Connecting to the Internet at home used to be quite an endeavor. The phone line would have to be plugged in, tying up any phone calls you may receive while you surfed the Web. The America Online disc would need to be inserted in the CD-ROM and then you would have to wait to see if a connection was established. Do you remember the sound?
That’s right, it used to take a full 30 seconds to connect to the Internet and that’s if the connection was successful the first time. Then you were able to surf the Internet at dial-up speed! Times have certainly changed. These days, 71% of households in the U.S. connect to the Internet via wifi. It’s an instant process. We’re always connected to the Internet; all we need to do is launch the browser or app. The old way was complex, the new way is simple.
When we read through Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, we read through hundreds of verses of instructions for the preparation the Israelites would have to go through just to be in the presence of God, just to enter the Tabernacle or to be standing near the Tabernacle. From specific clothes and chest pieces, to anointing oil and the incense burned, to the purification of the people who would be nearest to the Tabernacle—throughout these pages we read procedure after procedure. Of course these many things needed to be done; since humans were going to be in the presence of our perfect and Almighty Lord, these procedures were necessary to make them presentable just in order to survive being that close to our powerful Lord. This complex way of coming into the Lord’s presence is contrasted sharply with Jesus’ instructions for prayer in Matthew 6:
“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)
Jesus came to fulfill the law. He makes all things new and He became the perfect sacrifice for us, which is why the curtain separating the Holy of Holies tore at Jesus’ death.
“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
“Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:11-15)
Now that curtain is torn and all can worship and share in Christ’s inheritance. No longer do we have to follow the old way of connecting with God. The new Way has come and Jesus instructs us to go away by ourselves, shut the door, and pray in private. The old way was complex and not available to everyone; this new way is simple and available to all. God has made Himself so accessible to us because of His great love for us, so the question is are we following this teaching on prayer?
Text messaging has changed the way we communicate. We are connected with people instantly without speaking, and with emojis, GIFs, and short hand, we can talk to them without even using words. Studies have shown with the rise of the Internet and social media, we are actually more disconnected than ever before, suffering through what some psychologists are calling a “Loneliness Epidemic.” As connected as we are through texts and social media, the relationships simply aren’t deep or fulfilling. They’re not real enough. We’re communicating with people without any real connection and this can easily slip into our prayer life.
Far too often, instead of going away, closing the door, and having an intentional conversation with the Lord, I will send up a thought every now and then, like sending a quick text. There’s no real intentional conversation. God made it easy for us and we can easily take advantage. So are you obeying Jesus’ teaching on prayer? Is your prayer time intentional? Do you go away and close the door and have a real conversation, or are your prayers more like quick text messages sent every now and then? It’s great to be in constant communication throughout the day, but if we never have that intentional conversation, how close is our relationship with God, really? We find many times throughout the Gospels that Jesus went away for personal prayer time. If the Son of God needed to do this, how much more do we? If you’re not having intentional prayer time with the Lord, the way Jesus has instructed us to do, the challenge is to change that. Start being intentional with your conversations with the Lord and you will see your relationship with Him grow deeper.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.