One of the most important things for us to understand about what it means for us to pray as Christians is this: of all the special places in creation to which we might have access because of our connection to someone, the most precious is the access we have to the heavenly throne room of God because of our connection to Jesus. Christian prayer is an action through which we have special entry to God’s heavenly presence because Jesus always stands there at the right hand of God and we can come through Him as His special guests.
n the congregation I formerly pastored, I had the privilege of shepherding a brother who worked as a police officer in the Philadelphia police department. He once graciously took me to eat at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, which serves as the union lodge for the whole police department of Philadelphia.
The lodge had a lounge where FOP members could eat and drink along with their guests. It was a newly built, modern restaurant complete with a police motorcycle hanging from the ceiling. During our time there, the off-duty cops were coming in and out of the building. This man would stop and talk to them about police work, with me lingering at his side.
The whole experience was delightfully surreal. It gave me a peek at what it might be like for me to grow out a magnificent Tom Selleck mustache and be one of the boys in blue.
However, there was no way that I was entering that lodge to eat lunch if I had just showed up by myself. I came as this man’s guest. He had to present his card to the hostess before we could enter. The FOP lounge is not just another commercial restaurant. It is a space specifically built for members of the FOP and their guests. My PCA clergy card would not pass muster for entry. It was this man’s presence and his presence alone that granted me access to that space.
It can be quite the treat to be able to go someplace where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to step foot because you are with someone who has special access to that space. There are lots of memorably enchanting places you can experience in this world if only you know the right person who can gain you special entry.
We may easily forget that the reality of Christian prayer is based on this principle.
Mature Christians are intimately acquainted with the concrete ways in which the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ form the basis of our life of salvation in Him. Unfortunately, it is too often the case that even mature Christians do not give much thought to how Christ’s ascension does the same.
Prayer is one of those things we know we are supposed to do as Christians, but perhaps it may not be something we stop and think about. We don’t consider what exactly it is we are doing and why we can even do it.
But one of the most important things for us to understand about what it means for us to pray as Christians is this: of all the special places in creation to which we might have access because of our connection to someone, the most precious is the access we have to the heavenly throne room of God because of our connection to Jesus.
Christian prayer is an action through which we have special entry to God’s heavenly presence because Jesus always stands there at the right hand of God and we can come through Him as His special guests. Christian prayer is about using our connection with Jesus to gain access to a space we would otherwise be unable to access on our own.
One of the places in Scripture we most clearly find this connection between Christian prayer and the ascension of Jesus is the book of Acts. Some scholars have argued that a better title for the book than “the Acts of the Apostles” would be “the Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus.” He is the agent acting throughout the narrative of the book to accomplish for His people on earth things that He alone can effect from His exalted position in heaven.
The gospel of Luke ends with a brief account of Jesus’ ascending to heaven. Yet, when Luke begins his second volume, he opens by rewinding to give us another account of Jesus’ ascension to heaven. And that is surely not just because Luke wants to be repetitive. It is because Luke wants us to read everything that happens in the book of Acts in light of Jesus’ ascension to heaven. We cannot really understand the events of Acts without understanding how they are connected to the exaltation of Christ at the right hand of the Father.
Other places in the New Testament inform us that one of the things Jesus is doing in His continuing work for His church as He is in heaven is interceding for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1). While Luke does not use explicit vocabulary in Acts to say that Jesus is interceding for His people in heaven, he nevertheless tells us that implicitly in one of the scenes in the book of Acts.