What’s so special about being able to pray? Don’t followers of all religions, even of pagan ones, pray?
“For through Him [Jesus Christ] we both [Jews who had the Divine revelation of the Old Testament Law, and non-Jews who did not] have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18)
It is certainly true that devout people pray. Christians pray, Jews pray, Muslims pray, Hindus pray. People of various other religions pray. There is something inherent in our psyche that has, throughout the ages, convicted humans that they should appeal to a Higher Power. Romans 1:20 explains, “For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” All we have to do is look outside our doors to the natural world to understand that Someone greater than we exists.
Many people in our society live in cities and towns which are increasingly populated not only with high concentrations of humanity, but also with much that is manmade, making the clarity of God’s creation less obvious. Yet since time immemorable, people have understood, if not the specifics of God, at least the very fact that not only does He exist, but also that He is great, as evidenced by the created world around them. And they have prayed to Him. But to what end?
Common sense and logic dictate that if there is a Higher Being, there must be a correct way to approach Him. All roads do not lead to God, and not everyone who prays, prays rightly. Just as Cain—with a sacrifice of crops, when only blood can atone for the gravity of sin—approached God wrongly, countless others have also attempted to access Him as they saw fit.
There can be no access to the Holy God by sinful mankind. We are infected with sin, tainted if not by its dominating power in our lives, then certainly at least with its presence. How can we approach the God of the universe, completely holy and without equal? The truth is that we cannot. Vowing holiness will not qualify us to approach Him. Denying ourselves will not help. Efforts as desperate as sacrificing their offspring, which some pagan cultures have done, will not atone for sin and allow man into the presence of the living God. What then, is the solution?
The solution is Christ, the perfect son of God, born into humankind, whose sinless sacrifice of Himself for our sinfulness has opened the door previously closed.
Hebrews 10:14, 19-22 explains the situation: “…by one offering [of Himself on the cross] He [Jesus] has perfected forever those who are being sanctified [made holy by the Spirit of God working in them through faith evidenced by their submission to Him]…Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest [the very presence of God] by the blood of Jesus [by His death]…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience…”
What previous generations could not accomplish, either by an attempt at faithfully following the revealed will of God in the Law, or by approaching Him on their own terms as they individually saw fit, Christ’s death on the cross did. It is because of Christ, and only because of Christ, that anyone can have access to God the Father. This is why we are told, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Christianity isn’t a personal preference. Neither is it a predisposed prejudice of Western culture. To the contrary, Christ is the only way given for people of any culture in any age to access the one and only true God. Because we are sinful, and inherently contrary to right living, mankind will always attempt to do things his way, to approach God on his own terms as Cain and countless others have tried. But as was true in the past, so it is both now and in the future—the only way to gain access to God is through submission to His authority and the forgiveness that is ours in Christ alone.
Thank You that we are fully forgiven because of Christ, and that You have given assurance of really hearing us when we approach You in prayer. May Your name be hallowed, not only in the natural world (as it already is) but also through us, and may Your kingdom truly come among us now, and in the future. Amen.