“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after…to behold the beauty of the Lord”
David spoke in Psalm 27 of the “One Thing”; the One Thing like a ring of great beauty comprised of three gems each one glittering with the rare splendor of their own eternal worth.
1. To dwell in His house/Presence
2. To behold the beauty of the Lord
3. To enquire, (search and to contemplate), in His Temple.
One of the singular joys of prayer is being afforded new glimpses of His being and character. There is an unspeakable grandeur of His presence that settles the disquiet within the human heart. There is a peace that invades the noise and the clamor of external things and above all, there is a beauty that beckons us to come and learn of Him within the quietness of His Own being.
It is the beholding of His beauty that transforms prayer from duty into a journey of being renewed in the truth of what life is about. The demands and busyness of the world with all of its harsh and insensitive ways are washed away in the stillness of His presence.
It is His beauty that draws men and women to Himself. Prayer is the essential wonder of our growth into the pursuit of an abiding life. It is the invitation into Himself.
It is no wonder that David wrote this powerful Psalm for the generations to come of his “One Thing” of which the “beholding of His beauty” was an intricate part of the whole.
May we as David spend time in His presence that we may ever grow in the dwelling, the beholding and the seeking of His wonder.
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple”
Prayer is simply the communion of our hearts with God. The touch of His presence brings fresh stirrings of His Own desire within our hearts; we become the altar upon which His incense burns. The closer we come to Him the more we find the Divine enablement to flow in His grace rather than relying on our own feeble efforts to pray effectually.
Travail is the precursor to new things being born in Him. Like a woman with child, the life within her is the source of travail. So also, Christ in His own, produces the cry for His New Creation to come forth in this Day.
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered”
True communion does not happen quickly. It involves an unfolding of hearts, a trust and a compliance on our part in order to be fully given to the will of God. His Presence is the great mystery of the universe. To enter into such a thing is a privilege beyond all others.
Our Walk and Our Prayer Life
As we grow in our sensitivity in touching these sacred places in God, we learn that our relationship with others greatly affects our relationship with Him. Unforgiveness, bitterness, pride, animosity and anger will greatly limit the true prayer of the Spirit of God within us. I cannot expect an audience with Him while I walk contrary to His ways.
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered*”
(*literally in the Greek “that your prayers be not cut off“) 1 Peter 3:7
Unforgiveness and Prayer
The deeper we go in Christ the more we find the necessity of being exercised in the grace of forgiveness. Failure to extend to others the great need of forgiveness for ourselves will result in our own prayer life lacking His presence and His unction to move in concert with His Spirit.
“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses”
The insensitive of heart will remain unaffected by the graces of His Holy Spirit. True, effectual prayer is proportional to our participation in the graces of His Spirit.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy”
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”
The secret to communion with Christ is summed up in our walk; in honoring and obeying Him in our common, everyday life.
Those who obey His Word honour His Word.
“Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life”
“And the fuel on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it morning by morning.”
The altar of the Old Covenant is a representation of our hearts in the New (Romans 12:1). It was the duty of the priests to keep the fire ever burning by adding wood “morning by morning”. In the morning as we set aside time to commune with our God who is “a consuming fire”. There is a necessity to touch the flame of the Eternal One that our own hearts may burn with a love for Him. It is this burning which keeps us from the temptations of the world and the impurities of our own selves.
As one man, greatly used of the Lord, stated: “an empty altar receives no fire”(1). Each morning we arise and lay ourselves before Him as a fresh offering that we might walk circumspectly and alert throughout the day. His fire ever falls upon the altar of sacrifice; as it was in the days of Elijah it shall be in this day.
May we discover the secret of His Flame. May we feel the embers of our hearts stirred by His Holy Breath until we are filled with the fire and intensity of His Spirit. He has an answer for cold hearts, for the lethargy in His house. It is nothing less than His presence burning within.
“Who maketh his angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire”
His true ministers carry the flame of God burning within their hearts. They cannot be satisfied with tepid prayers, powerless sermons and the lifeless conjectures of those whose lives do not align with their words. The fire of God purifies. It warms the very soul of man and brings Him into the zeal of the Lord for His House (John 2:16-17). There is a lamentation within over the condition and the temperature of the hearts of His people. There is a seeking of the purity, power and intensity of His Spirit to see His Unity arise in His House.
It is the “fervent prayer” of a “righteous man” that avails much, that brings forth the moving of His hand in the earth. Let us keep the flame burning within; let us seek out fellowship with others who will stir the embers of our hearts that we may know, to quote a good friend, “the fellowship of the flame”(2).
His beauty will arise out of the ashes of ourselves.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified”
What is the purpose of these people?
“And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations”
This is the Day of the Lord and He Himself is appointing unto them who mourn over the state of the Zion of God in our day; beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness! Let His fire fall afresh upon our hearts that He may be glorified by the lives we live and the words we speak!
“But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable multitudes of angels, to the festal gathering and assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better than that of Abel. See that you don’t refuse him who speaks.”!
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is”
People who believe little pray little. The basic reality of the Christian’s prayer life is predicated by our faith. The proof of our faith is revealed in our drawing nigh unto HIM. We must believe that HE IS in order to enter into that Holy Place of prayer and communion with Him. The true prayer life is one of relationship and intimacy with our God and Father. It is “by faith” that we draw near unto HIM; it is “by faith” that the substance of the unseen relationship is realized. The recurring thought throughout the faith chapter in the Book of Hebrews is: “by faith”. So it is in the life of PRAYER by which we are to be “building up ourselves on our most holy faith, PRAYING IN THE HOLY GHOST” (Jude 1:20).
BY FAITH is the means by which all deeds are birthed and brought unto perfection. Without FAITH we have no means to draw from the “wells of salvation”. Without FAITH we have no “handle” upon which to lay claim to the precious promises of God. Without FAITH we have no ability to truly understand the depths HIS WORD. Without FAITH we are left to the miserable resources of self that will always wither in the hour of greatest need. “By faith” men DO, GROW and BECOME like their great High Priest. The deeper and more intimate our life of prayer becomes, the more there is a growing realization that we are no longer praying just for our selves. Rather we are becoming participants of HIS HEART for His purposes in the lives of others. For that is the Heart of our Great HIGH PRIEST…
“I pray for them”
Let us get a glimpse of THIS HEART that ever beats and is ever working and praying on our behalf that we might become pure and holy expressions of the Son. “Faith without works is dead” and nowhere is this truth more evident than in the life of holy, powerful and fervent prayer.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”
Religious men may pray, they may mouth and speak great words that sound right and good but, as Jesus commented, the Pharisee “prayed thus with himself”. His prayer had no HOLY WITNESS but was borne of self and concerned with self. This prayer never left the man. Prayers without works are the bane of religion. The Pharisee’s words were never joined with the works of true Christian charity. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan the Levite and the Priest would pass by the beaten man in the streets on their way to the Temple with no concern. The power of true prayer and interaction with the Heart of Jesus will always bring us into the Love for that thing we pray for. Prayer without faith will be revealed in a life without works. No one can truly touch the heart of God in prayer and be bereft of works. It is an impossibility. Love and faith are the womb from which the works of God flow; in touching Him we touch others.
But we, By FAITH, have access to the Holy Altar of incense that burns with the Holy Fire (singular) of His love and desire. On this Altar the Incense of God is added to the prayers of His saints that they may ascend as sweet fragrant offerings unto HIM who alone is worthy!
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting”
I TIMOTHY 2:8
“They shall come with weeping, and I will lead them with prayers. I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters, in a right way; they will not stumble in it…”
Prayer is the secret of the life of a Christian. It is in this secret place that our hearts meet with our heavenly Father in the bonds and the merits of Christ. Prayer is much more than asking God for things and help in our situations; it is the sacred place of listening to Him and hearing His Will and purpose for our life. Prayer is the participation of our hearts in the wonder of God.
Communion with God is to be the center and focus of our lives. It is as we draw near to His presence that our hearts are softened and touched by His heart. There is a posture that seeps into our hearts by the touching of the Holy; we become still and bowed before our God. In that moment we know our place before Him, and we are enabled to hear the “still small voice” of our God. Oftentimes His directions come to us in whispers infused with faith to walk in His way. The secrets of the Lord often come in quiet times of prayer and communion with God.
“Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child”
The magnitude of His presence quiets our being and in that wonder we are “weaned” of our wants and needs; like a contented child resting in the arms of its loving mother.
“I will lead them with prayers”
Those who pray much, hear much and see glimpses of Him that overwhelm the heart with the immensity of His presence. Prayer is the secret of faith, the wellspring of peace, and a hiding place for His children.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”
“The true spirit of prayer is no other than God’s own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tend to God in holy breathings and pantings. It naturally leads to God, to converse with him by prayer”
– Jonathan Edwards
“Trust always operates in the present tense. Hope looks toward the future. Trust looks to the present. Hope expects. Trust possesses. Trust receives what prayer acquires. So, what prayer needs, at all times, is abiding and abundant trust”
– E.M. Bounds