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How To Enter God's Presence
by Molly Wingard

Once we understand that the heart of prayer is communion with God in a unity of love and purpose, how do we begin to pray? Where do we start? We first need to learn how to enter God’s presence with the right spirit, approach and preparation so that we can have this communion with Him.

We’re going to be looking at a passage in the Old Testament book of Leviticus to illustrate a New Testament principle: the priesthood of believers. Jesus said, in Matt.5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." The New Testament reveals the deeper spiritual meanings of the Old Testament practices which were fulfilled in Jesus Christ (see Heb.8:5-6; 9:23). It is important to understand these Old Testament practices so we can appreciate what their fulfillment in the New Testament means for our relationship with God now that we are redeemed in Christ.

The term "entering into God’s presence" is frequently used in the church today in reference to worship and prayer. However most of us don’t understand what this concept really means. It is because we do not have a genuine reverence for God. It’s the attitude that counts." We have lost the attitude as well as the custom. We need to be spiritually sensitive to the fact that God is holy, mighty, and worthy to be reverenced.

Because we misunderstand the nature of grace, we are casual about our obedience to God. We commit sin, and then we hurriedly ask for forgiveness on our way to church for prayer meeting. By the time we get to the door, we think we’re ready to join with other believers in prayer. We treat the precious blood of Jesus, which He gave His life to deliver us, as if it's some temporary covering for our messes so we can sin all over again. Sadly we don’t really love Jesus. We use Him. Then we wonder why God doesn’t answer our prayers. The truth is that grace supersedes law in the sense that only the grace we receive in Christ enables us to fulfill God’s law.

Jesus told us that the greatest commandment of all is," Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matt.22:37). God is saying to the church, "Don’t obey Me because of the things you want from Me; Obey Me because you love Me. John 14:15 says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." If you love Me, you won’t need chastisement and discipline to do what I ask of you."

God doesn’t want us to use Him as safety insurance from hell. He wants a relationship, not a religion. He wants to be a Father and He wants communion with us. Communion means intimacy with our Heavenly Father through which we express our love for Him, find out His will, and then do it.

When we don’t have a healthy fear of God or respect for His commandments, we are unable to truly enter His presence. When we talk about seeking God, we must talk about the word holiness. Holiness is critical to prayer because "Follow peace with all men, and holiness. without which no man shall see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14." Jesus emphasized this truth when He said, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God Matthew 5:8." I don’t believe these verses refer to seeing God in heaven after we die, but to everyday life on earth.. They refer to seeing God now, in the sense of having an intimate relationship of love with Him and entering into His presence so we can know His heart and mind.

Jesus taught the people what we now refer to as the Beatitudes, I would like to call it "the Attitudes to Be" - the attitudes define who we are suppose to be in Christ. In Matt.5:3-4 it says v3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their's is the kingdom of heaven. v4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." To mourn means to humble yourself. God will satisfy you if you seek Him with all your heart.

In Matt 5:8 says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." What does it mean to be pure in heart? Pure means holy. Therefore, Jesus was saying, in effect, "Blessed are the holy in heart, for they will see God." The word holy means to sanctify, set apart, or to be set. When you are pure in heart, your mind is set on God and His ways.

Leviticus 11:44 says "For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." Leviticus 20:8 says, "And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify you." In these verses, God is saying, "Set yourself in the same way that I set Myself; be holy just as I am holy." To consecrate yourself means to position or set yourself in such a way that you say, "I’m not going to stop until I get what I’m going after." Leviticus 20:26 says, "And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine." Holiness always has to do with separation. It has to do with fixing yourself on God and not being influenced by people.

What does it mean to "see" God in relation to prayer? Exodus 14:13a says," And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord ." 2 Chronicles 20:17a says," Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you." God said, in essence, "If you are holy, then I will manifest Myself to you. You will see Me; you will see My salvation in your Life." If your mind is set in regard to your prayer - that is if you are convinced that He will do what He has promised you, if you are pure both in what you believe and in what you do - then you will see Him manifested.

James 1: 5-8 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. " For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." A person who is "double-minded and unstable in all he does" is demonstrating unholiness because there is an inconsistency between what he says and what he actually believes and does. God cannot give it if we doubt because He is holy and must remain true to what He has said in His Word.

Holiness means "one" - not the number one, but one in the sense of "complete."

Unholiness cannot remain in God’s presence. In the Old Testament, if someone went into God’s presence without being Holy, he died. God warned the priests, "Do not come into My presence unless you are holy, because I am holy.

When we go to God in prayer, we must have to same integrity between what we say and do that He does, because holiness is telling the truth and then living the truth. God says in Jeremiah 29:13 " And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

When the followers of Jesus were all in one accord - When they were single-minded - the Holy Spirit was given. In Acts 2:1 says, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."

James said that if we doubt, we are being double-minded. That means that we don’t have integrity - we’re not holy. Since God is holy, we also have to be holy if we want to receive answers to our prayers.

We need to see that the requirements God gave in the Old Testament are just as valid for us who live under the new covenant.

The Levitical priests were intercessors or mediators between God and the people of Israel. The Bible teaches that God has given the word priest a broader meaning than this, one that has significant implications for prayer.

In God’s perspective, the priesthood is ultimately not for a special groups of people, but for all those who belong to HIM. This was true beginning with the creation of man. God confirmed His plan with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and it was the descendents of Jacob who became the nation of Israel.

Israel inherited God’s promise to Abraham. In Genesis 18:18 says, "Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?" This promise corresponds to God’s original plan for mankind to exercise dominion authority on the earth. Therefore, when God called the children of Israel "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation," (Exodus 19:6). He was reflecting His purposes for mankind from Adam to Abraham to Jacob to the children of Israel and beyond. God’s plan is that man be HIS representative on earth.

We know that God wanted Adam to spread His will and His nature throughout the earth. Adam failed and the earth became populated with many nations who did not know God. God then chose one of those nations - Israel - out of all the nations to serve as priest before the other nations. Yet Israel also failed to fulfill God’s calling. So God chose a small group from the nation the tribe called Levites. God instructed the Levites to mediate for the nation of Israel: This would enable Israel to fulfill its calling to go to the other nations of the world as God’s representative so that ultimately, all nations would return to HIM. That was the purpose of the Levitical priesthood: to restore the purpose of God to Israel.

1 Peter 2:5,9 says, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ," "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"

When God told Abraham that He would create a great nation from Abraham’s lineage and that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed, what was His intent? It was to redeem the whole world.

Romans 4: 13-17 says, " For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. "For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: "Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. " Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace: to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of faith of Abraham: who is the father of us all; " (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were,"

God created a new nation of Spirit-filled intercessors. This new nation is made up of both Israelites (Jews) and Gentiles (non-Jews) who have placed their faith in Christ. It is the single nation of Spirit-led people that was God’s original purpose. In Galatians 3:28 says, "There is neither Jews nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." When the people sinned, one of the consequences was that they isolated the priesthood so that it just included males. This is not the case with the spiritual heirs of Abraham. The prophet Joel said: Joel 2:28-29 says, "And it come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit." When the Lord Himself came to earth as God the Son, His intent was to create a new nation in which everybody would receive the Holy Spirit. If a person repented and received Christ, God would fill that person with His Spirit and make the person His priest.

As believers, you and I are priests before God. The Bible calls the priesthood an eternal ordinance. It is forever.

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