EXPECT THE HEAVENS TO OPEN
“Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God's new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.” - N.T. Wright
What do you expect when you pray? How far away is heaven?
In Luke 3 when Jesus was baptized, he prayed. In that moment, the gospel writers record that the heavens opened up. Have you ever wondered what that looked like? We don’t get much detail, but what is certain is that Jesus had the Father’s full attention. The barrier between heaven and earth was lifted.
In the Old Testament, Jacob was shown a stairway to heaven at Bethel. When he saw heaven, and angels coming up and down between heaven and earth, Jacob had a perspective shift. He said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Genesis 28:16, NIV). Jacob was in Bethel because he had lied to his father, stolen his brother’s birthright and ran away from his family, fearing for his life. I can’t imagine anyone feeling more alone in that moment, and more undeserving of God’s attention. And yet, in that moment of revelation, Jacob realized that God was with him, and that he had access to heaven.
That ladder was more than Jacob suspected. Jesus revealed himself as that ladder Jacob saw to heaven in John 1:51. When we pray to Jesus, the ladder from earth to heaven, we have the same access to God that he does. Heaven opens for us too, not because we are any more deserving than Jacob was, but because of who Jesus is and the free gift he gives us. Hebrews describes the kind of attitude this access should inspire in us.
“Since we have a high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God...Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14,16 NIV).
We don’t have to come to God timid or with our heads hanging low, but with bright eyes and open arms because this wide open heaven is just bursting with anticipation to embrace you. We can expect that God is leaning in as we lift our eyes and open our mouth to speak to him.
While we may not all experience a blatant demonstration of the supernatural world around us, we can trust the words of Stephen recorded in the ancient text, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56 NIV).
No matter what you see or feel, the heavens are open before you as you pray. The heavens remain wide open, the Holy Spirit is beckoning us to come. Come talk to him, come experience him, come see what he has planned for us, come let him lavish us with the love and grace and mercy and forgiveness and power that flows unrelentingly under this wide open heaven.
Questions for contemplation:
What do you think is happening on the other end of your prayers?
Does your perspective of Jesus and his response to you need to change based on these Scriptures?
Pray with confidence knowing God loves to hear from you.
Pray expecting that God is listening.
Pray expecting that Jesus is advocating for you in heaven.