When I was a child I thought it was something formal. That I first had to 'clean' my mind of thoughts so that God wouldn't hear them before I started. But that's the thing about an omnipotent-omniscient God--moot point in cleaning your mind before prayer 'cause He already knows!
Anyway, the sermon of the Tabernacle Prayer (taught by Paul Yonggi Cho) is a go to, especially when I want to 'soul detox'. Its not meant to be formal... it's meant to be real. I'll be re-iterating and exhorting on it at Church, so I might as well give snippets.
Premise: The Tabernacle/Temple prayer is a method of praying so as to engage God in deeper conversation. It also helps pace one's self in prayer time.
There are three stages and seven areas of concentration. The three stages are the outer court, inner court, and the Holy of Holies. The seven concentrations are: the Brazen Altar and the Cross, Laver, Lamp Stand (Menorah), Table of Show Bread, the Altar of Incense, and the Mercy Seat.
At each concentration, we engage God differently. At the Brazen Altar, we come to magnify the work of Jesus on the cross. To affirm His death, and His triumph. We renew our minds with the benefits of the cross: forgiveness of sin, righteousness, healing, conquered the world, fulness of the Holy Spirit, sanctification, redemption from the curse, etc; We get to clarify the vision of our identity in Him.
The Laver is where we look within ourselves using the 10 Commandments as our mirror. It is no longer a curse (Galatians 3:10 NLT preferred). A lot of repenting and renouncing here. Got other gods and idols? Got a problem with taking the Lord's name in vain? Am I keeping the commandment of the Sabbath? Do I respect my parents? Honestly, when you ponder upon these, you'll be humbled and see that we needed a lot of fixing. It's great! Its a recalibration. This is where I'm usually a sopping mess.
The Menorah represents the Holy Spirit and His seven attributes. He illuminates our spirit and soul with His: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge; fear of the Lord, and holiness. This is that part where the 'oil' or 'anointing' comes. Here I'm humbled by His abilities and realize what it means to function in and through Him. And, obviously, I engage Him and adore Him and take this time to fellowship with Him.
The Table of Show Bread is the word of God. The 'logos' - the written word, and the 'rhema' - God's spoken word. I like to think of it as the Doctrine within the Bible and the inspiration impressed by God through the Holy Spirit that brings these doctrines to life, able to apply divinely inspired Word to our lives. I thank God for the Word and the promises of the Word that has come to life within me for my wellbeing. Super powerful to know that God's Word does not return void (Isa. 55:11) and alive (Heb. 4:12).
Finally (for my snippet, rather), the Altar of Incense. Here, we are directly in front of God's glory. Our prayer is a sweet incense to Him (Ps. 141:2 & Rev. 8:4). Here we are able to offer petitions for ourselves and others, pray for blessings, protection; lay down plans and projects, etc; You've got this time, place, and space in front of the King of Kings and He's listening. Say, 'Hi' or just be still to listen to Him.
I encourage you to make it real 'cause either way He's listening. Also, going through these points, I assure you, you'll have a long and very deep conversation with God.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
(Yes, I realize I may have blogged about this a while back. Always a good topic!)