"Beyond the Ceiling"
A believing and sincere young man recently said to me, "Does it ever feel like your prayers must not be getting much further than the ceiling?" I instantly responded, "Of course! In those times when my focus in prayer - or in life - is upon myself rather than the Lord Jesus Christ, all kinds of false notions and sensibilities pervade my experience of relating to God.
"Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him" (Ephesians 3:12).
By definition, true prayer involves focusing upon our Lord rather than ourselves. We also look unto the needs of others in intercession. Moreover, we pray about our own needs and lives, seeking God's light, making requests, and acknowledging, confessing, and repenting of sin when necessary. All is done in remembrance and affirmation that the Lord Jesus secured and secures our access. We come by Him, through Him, and for Him, or we come not at all. Thus, prayers that seem to bounce back, as it were, indicate that in some manner our gaze has been diverted from "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
We do well as we approach the Throne of God to see by faith the blood that stains the path of our access. It is not our blood that grants entrance into the Holiest. "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, and having an high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" (Hebrews 10:19-22). Such a scene fills our hearts with gratitude, encourages our hearts with confidence, and breaks our hearts with repentance as we de-focus our gaze from ourselves unto seeing God as accessed through the merits of Christ. If our prayers seem to bounce back, we can be sure of our need to prayerfully reorient our attention from ourselves to the One whose sacrifice provides the way, the only way whereby we can be confident of prayers that ascend beyond the ceiling…
"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."
(I Peter 2:5)
Weekly Memory Verse
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
(I Corinthians 15:58)