Prayer: Casual or Formal?

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Exodus 25-27

Our Attitude

How are we supposed to approach the Lord in prayer? On the one hand, does the holiness and righteousness of God cut us off from intimacy with Him? On the other hand, does our friendship with Jesus [1] give us license to be flippant, frivolous, thoughtless, casual or disrespectful in His presence?  In a sermon that has greatly enhanced my recent prayer life, Charles Spurgeon said,

There is a vulgar notion that prayer is a very easy thing, a kind of common business that may be done anyhow, without care or effort … [The ancient saints] appear to have thought a great deal more seriously of prayer than many do now-a-days … They reaped great harvests in the field of prayer, and found the mercy seat to be a mine of untold treasures. [They] were wont … to order their cause before God; that is to say, as a petitioner coming into Court does not come there without thought to state his case on the spur of the moment, but enters into the audience chamber with his suit well prepared, having moreover learned how he ought to behave himself in the presence of the great One to whom he is appealing. It is well to approach the seat of the King of kings as much as possible with pre-meditation and preparation, knowing what we are about, where we are standing, and what it is which we desire to obtain. In times of peril and distress we may fly to God just as we are … but in ordinary times we should not come with an unprepared spirit … [2]

God’s Holiness

When God crafted the tabernacle’s plans, He intended to dwell among [His people]” [3]. Then, when Moses detailed the instructions, he intended to convey the weight and worth of God. Thus, as future generations would labor to read them, they would feel hopeless to attain their own righteousness and marvel at God’s mercy in coming to dwell among sinful people – especially as they looked on Jesus, who “went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle” [4] to tear down the barrier between their sinfulness and God’s holiness.

Prayer

Lord, We are humbled in Your holy presence. Thank You for revealing Your holiness through tangible means like the tabernacle and then for embodying Your holiness to redeem our sins in Jesus. Teach us to pray in reverence, even as we call You a friend. Amen.

_______________________________________

[1] See John 15:14-15 (noting Jesus’ statement: “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” NIV)  |  [2] Charles Spurgeon, Effective Prayer. Taken from Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 12, No. 700. (Note: I have found this sermon so helpful in ordering my own prayers over the past few months that I have sent it to many people. One of them, paused in the middle of reading it just to write me an email that read, “Just pausing from reading this right now to thank you. God bless you in every way.” I pray that you may read this and be helped in approaching the Lord with your requests, for the glory of His name to be made holy in your lives.)  |  [3] Exodus 25:8 NIV  |  [4] Hebrews 9:11 NIV

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