What is prayer and why do we need to “pray without ceasing”? (2018-07-30)

When we pray, we ‘talk’ to God and are communicating with him. We ask him, and thank him, and praise him. But what exactly is going on, and, how can we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17) in this busy world?

First we have to understand where we are – the place where we are standing – when we pray. When we pray, realize that you are standing in front of God. Prayer is not a simple thing we say but a standing in God’s presence today. It is different than in the Old Testament when they only knew of a God that is far away in heaven. When the temple was built, people who offer sacrifices before, once a year, only the high priest will enter into the Holies of Holy to come into the presence of God. Today, we have all entered into the Holies of Holy to talk with God. That is why it says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). “We all”, refers to all of us, not just the high priest alone. Realize we have arrived at the throne of grace. Realize we are speaking with God in the Holy of Holies. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth [reality]” (John 4:24). The place of worship must be in our spirits today because our bodies are the temples of God (I Cor. 6:19). The temple has moved from the Old Testament construct to living beings today. When we worship, the place we worship must be in our spirit so Christ can live out of us in reality.

In the Old Testament, the construction of the temple where God resides among men is made of three sections: the outer court where the people were; it surrounded an inner court called the Holy Place which only the priests were allowed to enter; separated by a thick curtain, the veil, in the inner most chamber where the high priest can visit only once per year, was the Holy of Holies where God has made his home among men, residing in the ark of the covenant. This was the separation between God and us before Christ. When Christ died on the cross, he became our great high priest (Heb. 4:14) who has now entered into the Holy of Holies once for all, tearing the curtain that separated us from God. He has led us captives in a triumphal procession (2 Cor. 2:14) entering through the veil to present us before the throne of grace, before God the Father himself, entering into the heavens (Heb. 4:14). This is “the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain” (Heb. 10:20). By dying of the cross, “we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19), into the Holies of Holy where God resides. By making peace between God and us, we can talk to God today, communicating with him through our prayers in the Holies of Holy. That is what prayer is – simply a communication between God and us in his presence, in our temples of God.

When we pray to him continuously, thinking of him always, we begin to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17). Praying unceasingly means simply setting our minds on him. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). When we pray, we are simply talking with the person of Christ. As we talk to him, realize we are standing in his presence and are in the Holies of Holy within our spirit. Today, our spirit is the temple of God. (John 4:24). We carry the temple of God with us wherever we go, in whatever we are doing. The holiness and preciousness of the Holies of Holy is now within our spirit. That is why we are the temples of God (1 Cor. 6:19). That is why our worship is now in spirit and reality.

As we stand before him, he infuses us with himself and transforms us into his image (2 Cor. 3:18). He changes us intrinsically and fundamentally alters us, transforming us to have the same nature, the same essence of what God is. That is why we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). The light of Christ shines upon us so we reflect his light expressing his glory. That is why we are “beholding as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18). That is why “Christ in you, [is] the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

Today, all we are doing is “reclining on Jesus’ bosom” (John 13:23), resting on him in our spirits. By remaining in his presence he will transform us into pillars for the building of his church. That is why when we rest on Christ, the stone we rest on will be made into a pillar for the house of God (Gen. 28:22 – This was Jacob’s dream where he poured oil onto the stone – the Spirit being poured out onto the stone, the Christ in us – transforming it into a pillar, for the building up on the house of God). As we lean of his bosom and rest on him, staying in the Holies of Holy continuously within our spirit, he will transform us into his image. “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” (Rev. 3:12). When we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17), realize we are staying in the Holies of Holy, staying inside God’s temples today, which is inside our bodies, abiding in God in our spirits. When this happens, we will be transformed. When we “will not go out from it anymore” (Rev. 3:12), Christ has made his home in our hearts forever and we don’t leave him anymore. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23) When we pray without ceasing, we will keep his word because we are staying in his presence continually as he transforms us into his image. So he will “write on us the name of My God” (Rev. 3:12) because we have been transformed into his image. Our name denotes who we are. When he writes on us the name of God, we would have been transformed, we would have his nature, the divine nature, having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and being one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). That is how the church is built into the new Jerusalem. The rock on which Christ builds his church (Mat. 16:18) – “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5) – will be transformed into the precious stones forming the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:19-20). It will become visible, coming down out of heaven so that the divine nature, the invisible God, will become visible through us. This new creation, which is a combination of the divine nature expressed through the human nature, headed up by Christ, will be something new and not seen before. Christ was the firstborn of this new creation. That is why “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). That is why “the whole creation (the creation that we see today in our 4 dimensional world – 3D + time) groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Rom. 8:22). He was fully God and fully man, a new type of life in this universe that combines the divine nature with the human nature called the “Lord Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18 – Recovery Version). When we also become transformed into this new creation (2 Cor.5:17; Gal.6:15), we will also have a new name which the Lord writes on us (Rev. 3:12).

In God’s eyes, everything is already finished as he is outside our dimension of time and space. “We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began” (1 Cor. 2:7 – NIV). From our viewpoint, as we walk along this timeline, realize all we just need to do is rest on Christ and love him. As we recline on Christ, realize we are “one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). As we love him, we will realize how much he loves us. We will “know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ [and]…may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19 – Recovery Version). Then it will be natural not to go out from the temple anymore. We would want to stay in the temple enjoying Christ and be transformed by him, gaining his fullness. This is why we would submit to him (Eph. 5:22-24) so Christ can become our all in all (Col. 3:11). We would no longer head up all things by ourselves, but let Christ head up all things in us (Eph. 1:10). We would no longer function by our own knowledge of good and evil, but by his life, the tree of life, supplying our every need (Rev. 22:2) alone. This was God’s intent. So we simply need to love him. When we love him, we will stay in his presence praying unceasingly.

 

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