Tabernacle prayer (sometimes called Temple Prayer) is a powerful and very real way to approach the presence of God and worship and praise him with a true understanding of who He is. The Tabernacle, as presented to us in the scriptures, provides us with a picture of approach to the presence of God. Moses was told explicitly to build the Tabernacle just as he was shown in the mountain. Why was this? Because, we are told in the book of Hebrews, that the Tabernacle in the wilderness (and the Temple that followed) was an exact representation of a real and lasting sanctuary in heaven.
If we want to come near to the Father, and truly avail ourselves of the invitation to intimacy that we have been granted through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it makes sense to study this truth, and to discover what information we have been given regarding true holiness and devotion. The Tabernacle, and all that it represents, pictures for us and new and living way into the very holy of holies where God’s presence can be felt, and his voice heard.
Essentially, we find seven steps laid out for us, the holy pathway leading to the manifest presence of the Lord above the mercy seat.
The 1st step on this pathway is to simply come to the doorway of the tabernacle. This doorway was a broad opening covered by exquisite curtains. To this place the children of the covenant would come and step through into the outer courts of God’s dwelling. We are told in Psalm 100 that we enter his courts with thanksgiving and praise, and this is where we begin our journey.
By taking time to worship God and his son Jesus Christ, whom the Bible declares to be the doorway to salvation (John 10), we step beyond the natural and into the spirit.
The Brazen Altar
Once we are through the doorway, and our hearts are focused on Him alone, leaving the world outside, we come into what the Bible calls the outer court of the tabernacle. Right here before us is the brazen alter.
The brazen alter represents the cross.
It is the place of sacrifice, where the pure and sinless died on behalf of those in need of forgiveness and salvation. In the Old Testament this of course was through representative animals, who were sacrificed in place of the sinner, but now we have our once for all sacrifice, Jesus the Lamb of God. When He died He took upon Himself the sin of the world.
This is the gospel of faith.
When we believe in Him, and what He has done, and apply it through the practice of prayer, we will begin to experience all that He accomplished and promised. It is essential that we, as Christian believers, move beyond mere knowledge and information and into manifest reality of the righteousness that has been granted to us so freely.
The Brazen Laver
The next piece of furniture that we find in the Tabernacle is the brazen laver. This was the place where priests would wash and cleanse themselves before stepping into the inner court. The laver represents the word of God, and it is the place where we apply our knowledge of righteousness through obedience to God’s word. The Scriptures tell us in the book of Ephesians that we are washed by the Word as if by pure water. The promises and commands of God have cleansing power. Understanding this aids us in our preparation to enter into the holy place and lift our petitions to God.
In regard to Tabernacle Prayer, at the laver, we examine our hearts in the light of the truth of God. This is often done by looking at and praying through the 10 commandments. In these commands we find a summary of God’s holy character, and His requirement for those who would follow him. The brazen laver was created from the mirrors of the Israelite women. It is here then, in the light of the salvation that we have through Christ, that we examine ourselves and allow God’s word to cleanse and direct us in the way of truth.
The Holy Place – The Inner Court
Once our hearts have been thoroughly cleansed we are ready to step through into the inner court. Here we find the table of shew bread, the golden menorah, and the altar of incense. As with everything in the Tabernacle each of these objects pictures a reality that is alive for us as followers of Jesus Christ. Understanding their significance can carry us into the very presence of God in the most wonderful way.
The Golden Candlestick
The menorah that we find in a holy place was a candlestick with 7 arms and bowls. These represent the 7 spirits of God as described in Isaiah chapter 11. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom, of understanding, Council and Might, the Spirit of knowledge, and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord.
The Holy Spirit is the one who sheds light and reveals truth to us. He truly is God, just as the Father and the Son, and He has been sent as our teacher and our guide. As God, he is worthy of our praise and that worship, and so here at the oil soaked golden menorah we worship the Holy Spirit, giving him the place that he deserves in our lives.
The Table of Shew Bread
The Table of Shew Bread was a golden table that had on it 12 loaves of bread. It was placed here in the inner court of the tabernacle opposite the golden menorah. It represents the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life. It also represents the people of God, who are intimately connected to their Lord. Truly, God carries and sustains us each and every day of our lives.
At the table, we take time to worship and praise Jesus Christ, the Lord of our salvation. We give him 1st place, and we listen for his word to be spoken to our heart. Hearing Him speak feeds and sustains us as we persevere in our walk and worship of the most holy. His words are like manna for our spirit.
The Altar of Incense
The 3rd item of furniture that we discover in the inner sanctuary is a second altar. The sacrifice that is given here however is not like those in the outer court. Jesus Christ was our once for all sacrifice, but here we have the privilege to offer up the sacrifice of praise and worship, and heartfelt prayer.
Take time to worship God, to praise his name, and to pour out your heart of thanksgiving before him. Incense in the New Testament is compared to praise, worship and prayer. Let love and worship in spirit and truth come up before God like a cloud of sweet smelling incense. This is the equation – with our understanding of who God is and of his covenant, and of the great sacrifice that He made on our behalf, we now offer our own sacrifice of Thanksgiving for all that he has done.
The Father hears our prayers, and he receives our worship. It is this that carries us through the next veil, into the very holy of holies where God dwells.
The Holy of Holies
This is the final area of the tabernacle as built by Moses. It housed the Ark of the covenant, which was the very dwelling place of God. God himself by his manifest presence lived among his people above the Mercy seat of this ark. We are told that Jesus has now become our mercy seat. He dwells in and with us, and his blood speaks good things over our lives, even the righteousness of God. We enjoy a salvation that not only receives us into heaven at the end of our days, but ushers us there right now into the presence of an almighty Father who loves us so intimately.
Through Christ we have been clothed with the full armor of God. We have upon our head the helmet of salvation, over our heart is the breastplate of righteousness, we carry in our hand the shield of faith, and our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. God’s word is in our mouth, and we are watching with anticipation for his return. We are dressed for victory.
Clothed in this way we know that we will be heard. Just as Hannah lifted up her petition in the temple, despite Peninnah and her mocking, and was heard and answered by God, so too our prayer will be heard. Hannah went to the temple and her heart was poured out to the God who lives and is true to His word. Was Hannah more able than you or I? No, her perseverance paid off, picturing for us that we too can come expecting an answer, just like the man at midnight who came requesting bread.
And here before the Father, we can also lift our hearts in the surety that covenant, praying let thy will be done, and let thy Kingdom come. We allow his life to pour into our heart, to fill us with fresh hope, knowledge and faith. He is watching over his word to perform it, and every time we come we are gaining fresh victories.
May your journeys in the Tabernacle be filled with wonder. The currency of intimacy is time. Time spent in the light of God’s presence, to worship Him, and lift the name of Jesus, is never wasted. I pray that God would lead you into deep and wondrous revelations of his Person as you approach him through the practice of Tabernacle prayer.