In the Old Testament, God came to “dwell” with the Israelites through the sanctuary in the wilderness. A picture of how God wanted to relate to them, the tabernacle contained three main sections: the Outer Court, Holy Place and Most Holy Place. Each contained objects which were used to help them interact with God. See diagram below:
When using the sanctuary as a model of prayer, we begin with “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise…” Psalm 100:4. Begin with adoration, praising who He is and what He has done for you.
The first object an Israel would see upon entering the courtyard was the altar of burnt offering. This is where they would offer a lamb as a symbolic sacrifice for their sins. After praising God, spend some time in confession of any sins, asking God to reveal any area you might not be aware of or any place of disobedience.
The next object in the courtyard was the laver – a large basin used for ceremonial washing representing cleansing from sin. Receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing of you, while you continue to rejoice in what He has done. In Eph 5:26, it says “that He might sanctify and cleanse her (the church) with the washing of water by the word.” Let God’s word wash over you, declaring who you are in Him, cleansed, sanctified, walking in fullness of life in Jesus.
Next, the priests would enter the holy place which contained three objects: the table of showbread, the lampstand and the altar of incense.
The table of showbread represents being “fed” on God’s word – meditating, studying and receiving His “daily bread.”
The lampstand represents receiving the illumination of the Holy Spirit, letting Him fill our lives with His comfort, power, anointing and grace.
At the altar of incense, we offer up prayers of intercession that God places on our hearts – our family, friends, those in authority and any other burden He gives us.
Then we move into the Most Holy Place where we abide in God – the place of intimacy “beyond the veil.” This is where we enter sweet communion with God where it isn’t about this need or that, but simply connecting in a deeper way – fellowship with God! What an incredible invitation!
This prayer model walks us step by step through the sanctuary and vital ways we can interact with God. This is just a brief summary. I encourage you to study the sanctuary model and engage in all that He has for you in it!