The best part of knowing God, for me, is being with Him, enjoying His presence. Lots of us know frustration as we desire to get into His presence, but it seems there is a blockage somewhere.
How do you get into His presence?
I hear the gears in some of your heads grumbling. “He’s gonna say, ‘Pray more.’”
How many books have you read about prayer? How many magazine articles made you feel guilty? How many times has the pastor stood behind the pulpit, pointed his long preaching finger until it stopped just in front of your nose, and said, “You ought to pray more!”
And you thought, “Yes, I need to pray more. Three minutes and thirteen seconds per day doesn’t get it.” So New Year’s eve you purpose, “I’m going to pray one hour every day.”
The next day you go to your bedroom, kneel down, wrap a shawl around your shoulders (so you’ll look like Elijah the prophet) and you pray one hour three minutes and thirteen seconds.
It’s true that the last 30 minutes you checked your watch every 45 seconds and the last part of your prayer sounded like a countdown to a moon blast, “Ten seconds, nine, eight … one… yes!
One hour, three minutes and thirteen seconds. “Wow! Move over apostle Paul. More spiritual than me, you won’t find.”
Next day you were busy so it was only thirty-three minutes and thirteen seconds. The day after you forgot and the day after that you were watching a series on Netflix that cost you three hours. That day your prayer was thirty-three seconds.
Misery! Paul no longer feels in danger of being overtaken by someone more spiritual than he. Guilt climbs on our shoulders and grins triumphantly.
A heavenly pattern
So, I’m not going to tell you how long to pray or what your prayer position should be. I’d like to look at a few things which will help us get into His presence. How long, where, etc., you need to figure out yourself. Chuck Haavik says, “It is not so much how we pray as the God to Whom we pray.”
The construction of Israel’s tabernacle (worship center) in the desert gives us some hints of how worship in the heavenly tabernacle is done.
The Old Testament priests, “ … serve(d) at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
This week we’ll talk about the power of going through the fence.
How To Go Before the King
I wonder if God doesn’t get bored with us sometimes. A worship service that puts us to sleep might put God to sleep, too … if He ever slept that is.
King David didn’t have this problem:
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
The tabernacle was surrounded by a sort of fence. It looks to me like they came through the gate of this fence into a sort of courtyard. They must have been singing and praising.
The first key for those who desire to get into God’s presence is attitude. Come before God singing, praising, and thanking Him. “But I don’t feel like praising yet,” we whine.
It’s easier to consistently act ourselves into feeling than it is to feel ourselves into action. What? Your feelings follow your actions more often than your actions follow your feelings.
Do what is right and usually your feeling will follow. Wait until you feel like doing something you’ll often feel like a parent waiting for his teenager to get ready to go to school.
Look at that Psalm again. David said, “Shout to the Lord … worship with gladness …come with joyful songs.
Here’s help in praise and thanksgiving, “Know that the Lord is God…” Think about Who He is and how He is. Think of who we are in relation to Him … His people. He takes care of us like a shepherd takes care of his sheep.
Start thinking of what the Lord has done for you. THANK HIM. Praise Him. He’s good. He never stops. Neither does His faithfulness.
Once I saw a crowd of people in front of a hotel on the famous Champs d’Elisee street in Paris. It was freezing cold.
“Who is coming?” I asked.
I wanted to see a famous movie star, too. So, I stood there in the freezing cold, like a popsicle in the freezer. Finally, I decided that I didn’t want to see her badly enough to risk frosting over, so I left. I guess she didn’t know I was waiting.
I don’t have a lot of access to movie stars and presidents. But, I can go into God’s presence. I go in the door singing, praising, thanking and … I almost said, “Dancing for joy.” My friends who dance for joy in Church start laughing when I try to dance, so I keep it to joyful noises.
You want to get into God’s presence? Get ready. Get your shawl wrapped around your shoulders (that part is optional). Start praising, thanking and acknowledging God.
Don’t feel like it? Just start. Go through the gate. Next week we’ll stop at the brazen altar on our way to a fantastic revelation of the Lord.
“I sometimes have a fight with my thoughts. They seem to escape and run away down some rabbit trail without my permission. One of the ways I find to combat this tendency is to sing. Even when my voice is “out-of-order” I can sing inside.” Ralph Hiatt