Friday, April 06, 2007

Prayer and Easter

...the Bible’s teaching is that we are not fit to approach God ourselves. We simply cannot wander into his presence to worship or to make requests. We are stained with our sin, and with our righteousness. Yes, stained with our righteousness. Like some child who has got covered in thick greasy oil, and then tried to cover it up with white talcum powder. It doesn’t work. Its still a mess.

The only reason Christians can pray is because Christ has made them acceptable by his death on the cross, where our sins and our shabby efforts at righteousness are placed on him, and his cloak on perfect goodness is placed on us. Like Jacob going in before his father dressed like his brother Esau, and blind Isaac knew the voice was different, but the clothes smelt right, and he poured out the blessing on Jacob. So we stand in God’s presence dressed like Christ, and our voice is different, but the Father is not some blind old man, he is fully aware of what he is doing, and says, "I will bless you because you are dressed like my son. I will listen to you because you are dressed like my son. I will answer you because you are dressed like my son. I will answer even before you cry out because you are dressed like my son."

And what was the cost of that cloak that we wear? It cost the death of Jesus, the suffering of Jesus, the hell that was mine poured out on Jesus.

Prayer is a blood-bought privilege.

And that means two things:

One – prayer is only open to those who have put on Christ's righteousness, in other words, Christians.

The second thing we learn from this is the immensity of the privilege Christians have. Prayer is a precious thing. It's precious because it isn’t available to everyone. Its precious because of who we can talk to. And its precious because of what it cost. What a terrible sin we have committed by being prayerless. Perhaps that’s where we need to start, with a realisation of what prayer is, and what it cost.

When we pray we need to keep in mind the heart-wrenching, soul-tearing, agonising cry of Christ on the cross, “My God My God, why have you forsaken me?” Part of the answer to that question is found when you bow your head and say, “Father”. How humbling. How much forgiveness we need for failing to pray.

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