i said to the LORD: "You are my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD." ps 140:6
david's appeal to God began with the establishment of their relationship. this point is vital to understanding how we relate to our God in prayer. in order to offer praise and thanksgiving, lift up supplication or petitions, or make intercessions it is important that we understand not only where we stand with God but also where He stands with us. it is upon the foundation of this relationship that we offer our prayers as an offering, as golden bowls of incense, to God.
the relationship between God and His people is, in short, undefinable. we have no appropriate comparisons, no point of reference from which to make the comparisons. there is only one God therefore we have only Him from which to make our judgments regarding this relationship.
thankfully, we are not left groping blindly in the dark for a bit of understanding in this area. in fact the wealth of knowledge and understanding to be gained here exceeds even what we may imagine. our starting point is always His written Word. God magnified His word above His name (ps 138:3) and it is through this medium that He reveals himself in an ever-unfolding revelation in the life of the believer. there is more in His word which sheds light on the God-man relationship than I or indeed anyone can adequately expose.
however even a brief survey of scripture reveals a few vital points. to understand the holy separateness of God, you have to consider the whole of scripture especially that before the coming of Jesus Christ. the old testament offers a perspective on God which really reveals his untouchable holiness in the fact that no man could look on his face and live, in that the face of Moses shone after his encounters with even the disembodied presence of God, in the fact that only the high priest could enter the holy of holies and he only once a year. these points and many others show how far above us our God resides. however there is a foreshadow of things to come in that the radiance of the face of moses would, over time, fade away until such time as he entered the presence of the LORD once more. the promise of a year of jubilee hints at a time of true forgiveness and grace beyond the confines of the law.
the coming of Jesus Christ offers a greater wealth of knowledge of how man relates to God only because of His accessibility. whereas, before, God revealed himself most heavily to a few, in these past days he has poured the whole of his deity into a humble and frail man, a baby even. it was not that God changed how he relates to His people, the characteristics of God as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ are evidenced throughout the old testament account of God as well, but rather because Christ brought the deity of God to earth and, by his sacrifice, wrapped man in the same holiness that separated him from God. now, in the very same righteousness that adorns God our father and God the Son, we have access to the most holy place.
Jesus brought God near so that our relationship with him is easier to see and touch. the warmth and intimacy of this relationship is unfathomable, uncomfortable even, for there is a part of us that understands that God is unquestionably holy and righteous and we are unquestionably sinful and wretched. to be brought so near to such goodness and light can bring discomfort and shame if we have not accepted the full measure of Jesus atoning sacrifice. romans 8:14-15 says:
"for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. for you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."
we have come to know that "abba," is an intimate endearing term for a father, much like "daddy," or "papa." can you imagine for a moment, walking up to the infinite, holy, magnificent, creator and ruler of the universe and calling Him "daddy?" our sinful and fearful spirit rejects and fears this! such intimacy can only bring pain and shame to the sinful and wretched creatures we are. yet to reject this idea categorically is to reject the grace offered by the sacrifice of Christ. the scripture says that we have not received a spirit of bondage to fear but the freedom that comes with the relationship of a child to his or her "daddy."
i will not attempt to quantify what makes that relationship unique, it is too precious. and this is the relationship we have through Christ to our holy God. this is not a matter of refusing the really thoughtful gift that a friend offers you, though that would be rude enough, this is the ultimate gift of the Father through the death of His Son administered by His Holy Spirit. to refuse such a gift is very near refusing the gift of salvation itself. we are not saved from estrangement into a relationship of distant awe and fear but to intimacy and an incalculable nearness.
galations 2:18 says that "if i build again those things which i destroyed, i make myself a transgressor." the distance between God has been bridged, there is no value in standing on the other side of the chasm at the foot of the bridge, fearing to cross over.