Prayerless Christians don’t realize what danger they are in. You may object, “So what if some Christians don’t pray? They’re still believers—blood-cleansed, forgiven and going to heaven. Where’s the danger in growing a little lukewarm?”
I believe our heavenly Father realizes we live in a busy age, with many demands on our time and energy. And Christians are caught up in busyness and activities as much as anyone else. Yet I cannot believe God takes lightly our rejection of His access, which cost His only Son His life.
God has made Christ our strong tower. But only those who “run into it” are safe (see Proverbs 18:10). If you don’t go in, then you’re still outside the door. You stand where Israel stood but God doesn’t meet anyone at the door anymore. All the provision we need is inside: forgiveness of sin, mercy in time of need, power to overcome.
Imagine the pain of rejection felt by the Father and Son. I envision this conversation taking place between them:
“Son, You were beaten, mocked, crucified, buried. It so pained me, I shut my eyes at the sight. Yet You fulfilled the everlasting covenant. You provided acceptance and access for all who would trust in You. Because of You, a last-days people would be able to come to Me. And they would grow mighty in My strength, building reserves of faith against a devil who would tempt and try them as at no other time.
“Yet, where are our beloved children? Monday passes and we never see them. Tuesday arrives, and still no children. Wednesday comes, with no sight of them. Thursday, Friday and Saturday pass, yet still we don’t see them. Only on Sunday do they approach us, while they’re in church. Why don’t they come? Don’t they love us?”
God asked Adam the same question when he hid from the Lord in the Garden of Eden: “Adam, where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9). The Lord knew where Adam was all along. He really was asking Adam why he had rejected fellowship and showing him that there was danger in hiding from His presence.
Indeed, Christians who don’t appropriate access to the Father end up in a “Sardis condition.” The Lord instructed John, “Unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God . . . I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1).
When Jesus walked the earth, He made Himself accessible to the whole population. He taught in synagogues, on hillsides, on boats. He healed the sick, performing wonders and miracles. He lifted His voice at the feasts, crying, “I am the living water. Come to Me, and I will satisfy your thirsty soul.” Anyone could draw near to Him and be satisfied.
But our Lord’s invitation was mostly ignored. He cried over the people, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). He was saying to Israel, “I’m here now, available to you. I’ve told you to come to me for healing and to have your needs met. But you won’t come.”
How did Jesus respond to the people’s rejection of Him? He declared, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (23:38). The word Jesus uses for desolate here signifies loneliness, waste, unfruitfulness. He said, “Your church life, your household, your spiritual walk—they are all going to dry up and die.”
Think about it. If parents don’t seek God daily, their children certainly won’t. Instead, their home will be filled with worldliness, spiritual barrenness, a loneliness beyond description. Eventually, that family will end up in total desolation.
Keep in mind, Jesus spoke these warnings in a day of grace. He added, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39). The meaning here is, “I’ve given you all the access you need to live an overcoming life. But you’ve ignored My offer. I’m sorry, but your decision is going to bring desolation to your life and home. And you won’t see Me again until eternity.”
When was the last time you came to God to find everything you needed for life? Were you in trouble, facing a crisis with your family, your job, your health? There’s nothing wrong with appropriating access to God in times of severe need. Isaiah writes, “Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them” (Isaiah 26:16). The Psalmist testifies, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble” (Psalm 142:1-2).
What is the greatest pain Christ’s soul could ever experience? I believe it is that a generation that has received full, unrestricted access does not come to Him.
For centuries, God’s people yearned and longed to see the blessing of our day. The access we now enjoy is the very access Moses yearned for. It is the same access David’s heart could see but could not obtain. It is the access Daniel never had, though he prayed to the Lord three times a day. Our forefathers saw this access happening in our day, and they rejoiced for us.
Yet we who have been given the right to this wonderful gift take it for granted. The door has been opened for us, yet we refuse to enter for days and weeks at a time. What a crime! Every time we ignore the access Jesus bought for us, casually walking past the door, we take His blood lightly. Our Lord told us we have all the resources we need if we would only come to Him. Yet we continue to snub His costly gift.
Scripture admonishes us, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. . . . Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)” (Hebrews 10:22-23). This passage clearly speaks of prayer. God is urging us, “Come into My presence often, daily. You can’t maintain your faith if you’re not drawing near to Me. If you don’t enter My presence boldly, your faith is going to waver.”
You may know Christians who were once on fire for Jesus, always making quality time for the Lord, searching His Word and shutting themselves in with Him. They knew to draw to Him to keep their faith alive.
Yet now these same Christians merely “think” their prayers. Or they rush into God’s presence for a few minutes just to say, “Hello, Lord. Please guide Me today. I love You, Jesus. Goodbye.” Their seeking heart is gone. The unhurried communion they once enjoyed is no more. And when you ask them about their abandoned prayer life, they claim to be “resting on faith.”
I tell you, prayerless people soon become faithless people. The more they forsake the gift of access, refusing to draw on God’s provisions, the more they drift away.
In one sudden, glorious moment, Jesus provided total, unrestricted access to the Father. The Bible says that at Golgotha, on a blood-stained cross, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:50-51).
At the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple in Jerusalem was literally ripped apart. That’s the moment our destiny was sealed. In the instant that our Lord gave up the ghost, we were given total, unrestricted access to the holy of holies: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Hebrews 10:19).
This tearing of the physical veil represented what took place in the spirit world. Finally, we were able to enjoy something that generation after generation could not. We have a privilege even Abraham, Moses and David did not have—access to the Holy of Holies, the very throne room of almighty God. The door was no longer shut to us. Unrestricted access was made possible.
Moreover, at His death, Jesus became our High Priest. He ascended to the New Jerusalem, to a temple not made with hands, where He took on the role of high priest. He walked right into the holy presence of God and, with the incense of His own intercessions, presented His blood at the mercy seat. Then He sat down at the Father's right hand, with all power, might and glory.
At that point, Jesus claimed His Covenant right to receive into one spiritual body all who would repent and receive Him as Lord. And He sent the Holy Spirit to issue a call to His children: “I have opened the door to the Father. You are now accepted simply by being in Me by faith. So, come boldly to the throne! I’ll take you into the presence of My Father, who is now your Father. You have unrestricted access to Him, day and night.”
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross would be sufficient for all time. His saving, forgiving, cleansing power and victory are available to every person in every era, from the most devout believer to the most hardened sinner.
Even as a young boy, I understood my need for Christ’s gift of salvation. I knew that when I accepted Jesus, His saving work on my behalf had been achieved once and for all. But not long after I accepted Him my anger erupted at one of my siblings, as happens so often among kids. Suddenly I was aware that I needed Jesus’ cleansing blood in my life all over again. I felt utterly lost, wondering whether my salvation was real.
Eventually I learned that I needed not only Christ’s salvation but His cleansing power in my life daily. Jesus demonstrated our need at the Last Supper when He took a towel and basin and began washing His disciples’ feet. Peter puzzled over this symbolic act, saying, “Lord, if You’re going to wash my feet, why not clean my head too?” (see John 13:9). Jesus answered, in essence, “Peter, you’re going to be saved by My blood. But you still live in a dirty world, and as you walk through it you’ll get dust on your feet. You’re going to need Me to wash your feet just as much as your heart.”
It’s true that Jesus has made us new creatures, having justified us once and for all. But as we walk through the mire of a dark and evil world, we can’t avoid picking up flecks of its anger, lust and hardness. Jesus says to us, just as He told Peter, “If your life is going to be pleasing to Me, I have to rid you of these things daily.”
To walk in His holiness, we must realize that Jesus wants to drive things out of our lives. In Matthew 21:12-13 when He ran the moneychangers out of the temple, He was ridding the church of a certain callousness that had overcome them. It wasn’t so much the exchange of money that upset Jesus; that practice had existed for years, as a convenience to faithful believers who traveled great distances to Jerusalem. What upset Jesus more was the focus on commerce, which had overtaken people’s passion for God. In their hearts, a house of prayer had been turned into a house of trade.