Effective and powerful intercession requires communing in the most intimate way with God's divine presence
God established the tabernacle in the wilderness through His servant Moses so that the Israelites could understand how to come into His presence. Through the tabernacle's design and the religious practices associated with it, God illustrated what He required of those who would stand in His presence.
Every piece of the tabernacle was sanctified and sacred. The Israelites knew that if they kept God's tabernacle in order, His presence would lead them day and night. No matter where they went on their journey that order could not change.
Today, people miss out on experiencing the glory and presence of God, because His presence no longer dwells in a building. We fail to move closer to God's ultimate purpose for our lives because we have not understood that we are the church.
To hold the awesome presence of God Himself, we must have lives that are in order according to the pattern He gave us when He provided instructions for the building of the Old Testament tabernacle. It is the spiritual blueprint for us today—the New Testament "[temples] of the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 6:19, NKJV).
You must handle the sacred pieces that you house, wherever you go and however you move. Once your relationship with God has been sanctified, set apart, protected and covered from within, you will be able to handle anything that comes from without.
Jesus was able to endure the cross because He built a strong tabernacle within by maintaining consistent communication with the Father. Likewise, you can rise above natural circumstances and tap into the supernatural realm—where you will find love, peace, contentment and the solution to the problems you face, if you will answer the call to prayer.
The Place of Divine Communion
In the pattern of the temple, the deepest place of prayer is represented by the most holy place. This is your ultimate destination. It is the place where you are absolutely sure God hears your prayers, and you're ready to receive the answers.
When God gave instructions to Moses for building the tabernacle, His purpose was to create a place where His presence could actually come to Earth to dwell with man. Although God gave explicit details for how the Israelites were to build the outer court and the holy place for His tabernacle, He didn't declare that He would meet with them in either of those places.
The most holy place alone houses God's divine presence. It is there that He meets with man and hears the intercessions of His people.
God is calling you to a deeper level of prayer. He is calling you to the most holy place—the supernatural realm where you have eternal communion with Him. But before God will allow you to operate in the faith that brings results through effectual prayer and intercession, there are foundational requirements for every intercessor that you must satisfy in your life.
Prepare your heart. The holy place was separated from the most holy place by a veil at the entrance. Through the veil, you would find the golden altar of incense. It was the nearest piece of furniture to the divine presence of God behind the veil, and it represented the heart of tabernacle service.
Anyone could come into the outer court, but only the lower priests and the high priest were allowed to serve in the holy place amidst the table of shewbread, the golden candlestick and the golden altar. Only the high priest could enter into the most holy place.
In Scripture, God administers a tremendous warning to those who are not spiritually ready to minister in intercession and prayer. In the Old Testament, the story of King Uzziah clearly illustrates the danger of attempting to enter the presence of God unprepared.
Although he was only 16 years old when he began his reign, King Uzziah "did right in the Lord's sight, to the extent of all that his father Amaziah had done (2 Chr. 26:4, The Amplified Bible).
"He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the things of God" (v. 5).
King Uzziah began his reign under the spiritual covering of the prophet Zechariah. Uzziah yearned for and sought after the Lord and God prospered him. Then his situation started to turn.
We must never forget that starting out in right standing with God does not qualify us to minister in the holy place—especially if we go off kilter after we begin. God helped Uzziah to be successful, and he became famous for his strong army throughout the land. But as his fame became widespread, he began to trust in the strength of his own abilities.
This same thing happens today. And it is an extremely dangerous attitude, as we can see in 2 Chronicles 26:16: "But when [King Uzziah] was strong, he became proud to his destruction; and he trespassed against the Lord his God, for he went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense."
When pride and arrogance take over, a haughty spirit follows close behind. This will keep a person from receiving valuable correction. If you are being used in the service of the Lord, yet you are walking in pride and haughtiness and aren't submitted to the correction of spiritual authority, then you are headed for a shipwreck.
King Uzziah stormed by the brazen laver, bypassed the brazen altar and went straight into the holy place. He ignored the table of shewbread and the golden candlestick. With no regard for his degraded spiritual condition, he went inside the holy place, straight to the golden altar of incense.
Azariah the priest, along with 80 other priests confronted Uzziah in the holy place and told him to leave. The king became angry, while holding a censer in his hand with which he intended to burn incense. At that moment, leprosy broke out on his forehead, and he was forced out of the sanctuary (see 2 Chr. 26:19-20).
It doesn't matter what you have accomplished—you are not going to get any credit in heaven by entering into the presence of God illegally. And a true sign of a person who has ignored the prerequisites God established for an intercessor is this: when correction comes, that person becomes angry. This is a dangerous place to be with God.
An intercessor starts out by seeking God and going forth in Him. Before anyone notices your talents, gifts or anointing, you begin on your face, seeking after God.
But when the fame of being an intercessor starts to spread, people begin to seek you out. When that happens, you must be careful not to step over into pride and lose credit with God. King Uzziah began to trust in his own strength, and, as a result, he ended up a leper for the rest of his life (see 2 Chr. 26:21-23).
Wait for the Lord's timing. We cannot rush into the holy place and expect an instant anointing to be given to us on our terms. The golden altar of incense must not be disregarded. As an intercessor, it is essential that you understand its power.
Each ingredient in the holy incense undergoes a specific process before it is ready to be added to the mixture. Our praise, worship and everything we are must be given to God for His glory only.
So I say to you, wait on the Lord. Every believer has been called to pray according to what Jesus taught in Luke 18:1-8. However, you must come to another level of maturity in God before you can enter the realm of effectual intercessory prayer.
Think about Moses' walk with the Lord and how God prepared his spirit to lead a nation. God told Miriam and Aaron: "[Moses] is entrusted and faithful in all My house. With him I speak mouth to mouth [directly], clearly and not in dark speeches; and he beholds the form of the Lord" (Num. 12:7-8).
Continual sacrifice and brokenness are required to reach the depth of relationship and communication with God that Moses enjoyed. Though God desires this level of relationship for everybody, you must wait until He qualifies you to be there, or you will be swallowed up and utterly destroyed by the workings of the flesh.
We must be careful that we do not mishandle the golden altar of incense, because it stands directly in front of the Ark of the Covenant. Unlike the brazen altar, which deals with your flesh, the golden altar deals with your faith. It is your passageway behind the veil into the holy of holies.
Clothe yourself in righteousness. When Aaron, the high priest, was adorned in all of his priestly garments to enter the holy place, he was wearing his tunic and breeches, which represented righteousness. Only he could enter the most holy place.
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, Aaron was required to undergo the process of purification a second time, including taking off all his normal priestly garments and putting on the most holy linen tunic and undergarments, before he could enter behind the veil (see Lev. 16: 24).
As high priest, if Aaron hadn't faithfully maintained all of his garments with righteousness as his foundation, he would have disqualified himself from entering the divine presence. When we are preparing to enter the divine presence of God, the thing that is required above everything else is that we are wearing the tunic of righteousness.
Aaron dethroned himself of his usual priestly garments, and he went into the most holy place wearing his most holy garments. If we want to enter behind the veil, we must dethrone ourselves of everything we do in the service of the Lord.
We must remember as we go into the divine presence of the Lord that we can only enter this place through the finished works of Jesus Christ. Nothing we have done in service to the Lord qualifies us to enter behind the veil—only what Christ has done on our behalf.
The Veil Has Been Opened
When Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross, that veil was torn from top to bottom. Now we can stand before the most holy place as priests unto God, offering up the sweet, pure and holy incense of our worship.
The blood of Jesus has made atonement on our behalf. When the Father looks at you, and you are living right according to the finished works of His Son, it is like He is looking at Jesus. You and I should have been cut off long before because of sin and iniquity, but the blood covers us so we can give prayers, intercession and worship to God.
As long as Christ lives in you, whatever the devil sends your direction cannot wipe you out. Christ is ever living in your heart and making intercession (standing in the gap) for you (see Heb. 7:25). That's why your troubles have not been able to break you or silence your praise.
You can never ignore the priceless sacrifice that clothes you in righteousness. Because of what Jesus has done, when your flesh is weak, you are strong (see 2 Cor. 12:9).
As you prepare to go into the most holy place behind the veil, you know He's alive! When you lie at His feet in prayer and intercession, you know He's the only one who can keep you. When the devil tries to tell you that you're not going to make it, Jesus is able to keep you alive and take you to your next level.
Hebrews 6:17-20 says that we have a hope that will take us far beyond the outer court and the holy place into the holy of holies. As a priest and intercessor, you can go into God's presence, already knowing what He is able to do.
You can go behind the veil knowing that He is the ultimate answer for those who are locked in the outer court and can't find their way into His divine presence. Your intercession can liberate those who are held in shackles and chains by the enemy when you enter the most holy place—the highest dimension of prayer—and commune with God face-to-face.
Juanita Bynum is the author of The Threshing Floor, from which this article is adapted. Published by Charisma House.