Sunday, January 28, 2007

Protecting Prayer (Part 2)

Be careful to guard and protect your time of prayer with God. The time should be, quite literally, a holy time. Often, we think of things that are holy in moral terms and as a special attribute of God. All of that is true. Yet, in addition, the concept of holiness is also one of "set apartness." The quote found on the right-hand panel of this blog from the Gospel of Mark (1:35) shows us Jesus as going to a solitary place to pray. Consider that if He did not do these things, the pressing demands of His ministry would have burnt Him out. He needed to guard that time as holy (set apart).

Consider also the description of a temple complex as given in the 40th to 48th chapters of the book of Ezekiel (the layout is in the above left graphic of today's entry). Compared to the site of the first temple on Mount Zion and its re-building on the same site a few decades later, the plan for Ezekiel's temple site would be enormous. Unlike the two temples built on Mount Zion, Ezekiel's temple calls for a sacred district surrounding it. Its area would be around 55 square miles (my hometown of Troy, Michigan is 33.6 square miles). The purpose of all this additional space is found in Ezekiel 42:20. It was "to separate the holy from the common." We see how the protecting and keeping of holy things as separate is so very important to God.

Prayer is a privilege but it is not a luxury. The world would have us think that taking time out to pray before or in the course of a busy day is a waste of time. If we're going to get something done, the world would say, get off your knees and get busy. Yet, the Bible and Christian experience point to the idea that our work really begins with prayer. Thus, we need to guard our sacred time in prayer with the same attitude which sacred space has been guarded by the people of God in both Old and New Testament times. My prayer for my readers and myself is that God will implant in us the same sense of importance, urgency and holiness in prayer which God has toward prayer.

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