“Having boldness to enter into the Holiest let us draw near…” admonishes the writer of Hebrews (10:19, 22) “But my prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back at me,” Ronald complained. “I don’t feel anything”. Ronald was a Christian who had, some time ago, utterly abandoned the idea of a personal daily prayer time due to this frustration.
What can one do when our own prayer experience matches that of Ronald’s? Not surprisingly, the solution is simple. It begins with Matthew’s Gospel which records that at the moment Jesus breathed His last breath, ”the curtain of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom” (Matt 27:51). While there were other remarkable occurrences as well, this torn-curtain sign is of astounding significance to the prayer life and experience of every follower of Christ from that day to this.
In Old Testament days the inaccessible Holy of Holies is curtained off- except by one person, for one purpose, on one day yearly- the High Priest, to offer the sacrificial blood to atone for sin, on the Day of Atonement. The meaning is clear: No access! The torn-curtain sign however, informs us- declares to us, that it is that inaccessible place, nothing less than the Presence of God Himself, which is now completely accessible; fully opened to all from the least of us to the greatest because of Jesus’ sacrifice. The curtain was torn “from the top”- signifying heaven’s initiative. It was also described as being woven material 9 cm (over 3.5 inches) thick. This means that no strength known on earth could have torn that curtain.
God provided that access for you; God intends that access for you; God invites you to access His Presence. The message is clear: You are welcome in this place. You are wanted in this place. You belong here. Because of the sacrificial death of Jesus, the Messiah, access to God’s Presence is your right; and your privilege. It’s available. Furthermore, the Lord made access as easy as possible. But, how? By faith.
Let’s say I awake a little early in order to pray, but my heart feels cold and distant from God…there is no earnest desire, no anticipation of hearing from heaven, no “heart-strangely-warmed” type experience. Should I revise my plan, pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep? No! Definitely, not! It will be worth it.
Choose, instead, to come to God in prayer by faith. Go ahead and confess having a cold and distant heart and ask the Lord to change what He has the power to change– the heart. Quite soon, we will find that we come away from those times with our gracious God, feeling lifted and strengthened and helped.
Because of an absence of feelings associated with prayer, Ronald has abandoned his Source of power, strength, encouragement, joy, peace and help. So, lets tell the Ronald’s we meet (and the Ronald’s we sometimes are) to choose to access God’s Presence by faith in prayer each day no matter how we may feel- before, during or after. The torn-curtain is a standing invitation to you from the Lord of all: “You are welcome here. You belong here”. And yes, feelings will no doubt follow; but faith must always come first.