Searching Google from my smartphone was like having a superpower. It didn’t matter what the question was; I could find my answer in a matter of seconds. Who sang this song? Hang on, let me Google it. How much is this in kilograms? Not sure; I’ll check Google. Can I buy this cheaper somewhere else? Let’s see what Google says!
Even the most inane trivia was at my fingertips—and, thanks to voice search, I was free to publicly embarrass myself by shouting queries at my phone. “Google! How many jars of peanut butter could fit inside the belly of a killer whale?” (I didn’t ask questions like this very often, but it was always nice to know the option was there.)
I lost that superpower recently, and it’s going to drive me crazy. My wife and I switched from an unlimited plan to a pay-as-you-go plan, and while I don’t regret the decision from a budget standpoint, it’s frustrating to have lost that instant access to a worldwide network of information. The cell phone towers are still there, and my phone can still communicate with them, but I choose to keep that functionality switched off in order to save money.
But it’s not just my Googling superpower I’ve lost. Most of the apps on my phone need Internet access in order to work, and they all seem inordinately eager to remind me if I forget. “Network access required,” they’ll flash across the screen, politely refraining from adding, “you poor, data-deprived simpleton.”
While I was bemoaning the loss of an unlimited 3G connection, a thought occurred to me: How terrible would it be if our connection to God worked the same way? Imagine kneeling beside your bed at night to pray, only to have a piece of paper materialize in front of you that read, “Sorry, you’ve used up your monthly allotment of prayer minutes for this month. Please wait until the next billing cycle before trying to pray again.” Or worse, imagine crying out for help in the middle of an excruciating trial, only to be told that God was currently out of range and unable to receive your prayer.
Long ago, God’s temple in Jerusalem had a thick veil separating the mercy seat of God from the rest of the temple (Exodus 25:21; 26:33). The only individual ever allowed past that curtain was the high priest, and even then only once a year during the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:2, 29-30), to atone for the sins of the nation. But after Christ’s sacrifice, that all changed—the veil between God’s people and His mercy seat was “torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38). This physical act symbolized the removal of the barrier between God’s people and His true mercy seat. Through the blood of Christ, we are able to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, cf. Hebrews 10:19-22).
What we have, in other words, is a direct line to the very throne of God. When we pray to God in Christ’s name, He hears us. There isn’t some laundry list of restrictions—we aren’t limited to a maximum number of prayers per month, and there aren’t certain locations where we lack “prayer coverage.” In fact, the only way we can loose that connection is if we choose to cut ourselves off from it (Isaiah 59:1-2). The all-knowing, all-seeing God of our fathers sits upon His throne, eagerly listening to the prayers of His children.
And what a throne it is! Somewhere beyond the realms of time and space as we understand them, there exists a throne of such majesty and splendor that it surpasses our feeble human comprehension. Ezekiel likens it to a sapphire (Ezekiel 1:26), while John describes the emerald-like rainbow surrounding it. In front of the throne is “a sea of glass, like crystal,” and “from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices” (Revelation 4:3, 5-6).
The One who sits on that throne hears our prayers.
The One who sits on that throne answers our prayers. The Master of the universe, the Creator of time and space, our God and our Father does so much more than sit idly by while His people cry out to Him. He acts. Not always in the way we want, and not always in the manner we expect, but always, always for our good. David wrote,
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
Passover is approaching, and Satan is increasing the strength and number of his volleys at the people of God. With every day that passes, our adversary seeks to destroy us with an urgency that only increases. And yet we have available to us the ear, the arm, and the love of the Eternal God of Hosts.
Sure, Googling from a smartphone is impressive—but the privilege to come before the throne of God with our problems and our praise is so much greater. Are we really putting that gift to use?
Until next time,