Thursday, November 4, 2010

#205-Tabernacle Prayer and other Deep and Mysterious Prayer Formulas

So let me explain...Really...I have an excuse. The lack of posts this week. I apologize deeply. It's so not supposed to be like this. But I got sick man. Like I had completely forgot what pain was like until this past week. It's been years since I've faced sickness like this...And now i'm coming out...And not refreshed, but I just want to forget about the whole thing and move on, you know?

So anyways, your mind does weird things when you are really sick. It goes places that you thought you would never go. First, there is that thing in the back of your head kind of like a John the Baptist in the brain, saying "Prepare ye the way for death....because that's the only way out." And you are so sick, you're kind of like, "yah, okay. I'm okay with this. Let me just write a will." (I did not write a will). And you know you won't die, but the paranoid thought has planted itself. And the sickness gets worse. Asking friends for self-pity will do nothing for you at this point. You have prayed the prayers. And you are still there, sick, in pain, fire in your lung, back pain like an old man would have, random sweats on your forehead. And you all you can say is "tomorrow, tomorrow, I will be better." Something like this...

Except tomorrow you aren't better. You are worse. And you didn't think it could get worse did you? But it so just did that number on you. And then the look the people you live with give you when they see you and hear you's awful. They look at you like you're a monster for a few seconds. Judging by their reaction, you kind of feel like Gregor must have  felt like after he turned into a bug in Kafka's Metamorphosis. And you want out! You want to have control over the pain. Something to show the pain and the sickness and the stupid, damp thoughts that you are in control. So you whimper to yourself quietly so no one can hear you, and cringe a bit. There you go...that's all cringing and whimpers are good for....cries in rebellion from the prison of pain that you are subjected to (I am being so stupidly poetic now).  

And then you think back to God. And all the stuff about prayers and healing. And how you so should be healed by now. Because you know people are praying. And you look to God, and you're like "Come on Sky God! I don't even have insurance. All that's left is you and me." And Sky God is silent. Because you feel like he's so unapproachable, since He lives in the sky during these periods of torment.

So then you think....and you're thinking so deeply. The problem is not with God! It's with you! You are the reason why you are not healed. You don't have enough faith in the faith vial you have been holding onto in your spirit. The magic vial that makes healings possible. And somewhere you are screaming at yourself, "THERE IS NO FAITH VIAL YOU IDIOT! THAT'S NOT HOW GOD WORKS" And then you yell back at the cynical voice "THERE IS TOO A MAGIC VIAL OF FAITH AND THE REASON I AM NOT HEALED IS BECAUSE IT WASN'T FULL ENOUGH TO USE!"

So then you got this imaginary magic vial of healing powers somewhere in your soul and you need to get that boy filled so you can get all better by giving the full vial to God in exchange for a healing. And now you are left to think, how in the world can I get the faith in this vial expediently filled? "I KNOW! I HAVE NOT BEEN PRAYING RIGHT! I NEED TO PRAY IN A SPECIAL WAY AND EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT!"

And you go over to your Bible, which oddly enough you have transformed from the Word of God into a book of Magical Formulas and Stories that tell you how to beat various things such as sin, sickness, demons, enemies etc....The bible has become your giant cheat code to get you out of whatever difficulty you are in (yes I realize I have already done a post kind of similar to this).

And obviously the first answer is to fast. Fasting puts everything under your subjection...ummm, i mean....ahh....I mean God's subjection. But you are sick. In too much pain to go without eating. So then you think about another formula of prayer that you have heard about. That prayer in Matthew 6? You mean the one that begins with how you don't need to babble in your prayers because the Father knows your needs before you even ask? That's too simple and cliche and I have already done a similar prayer every day for like my whole life!

No, I need something profoundly earth shattering and deep to pray to fill this magical vial here which allows me to get healed.
Tabernacle Prayer for the WIN

Yes! The praying formula that so many Apostolics use.The Tabernacle Prayer! I will pray through the tabernacle stations. Because that is so a secret and direct route to getting to the Holy of Holies and once there...Healing like Whoa!


And then I watch a sermon. From a minister that I admire. And there he is flat out calling this stuff out. Where does the Bible tell us the Tabernacle is a shadow of how to pray? WHERE?!? I was sure it was in there somewhere. As I was sick trying to pray through the shew-bread and stuff....I mean....all those details they matter! The colors that are listed. The purple and everything. All that stuff matters right? Because in Hebrews...It tells about how the Tabernacle is a shadow of what is in Heaven (Hebrews 8:5). And how Jesus is the High Priest in Heaven. So we are to be the praying High Priests here on Earth? Maybe? Maybe that works. That minister must be wrong. Because if he's right, then how do I get healed? How do I have a super deep semi-mystical prayer experience with God if there is no more Tabernacle to pray through?

Study Chapter 8 to affirm long held beliefs that the Tabernacle is a great way to pray.

O Dear God!

7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said[e]:
   “The days are coming, declares the Lord,
   when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
   and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
   I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
   to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
   and I turned away from them,
            declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
   after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
   and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
   and they will be my people...

 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Hebrews 8! Why didn't anyone tell me? We are so taking that verse about the Tabernacle as a shadow out of context. O nosie!

And suddenly I wanted to be well...Not to get rid of the pain. But so I could have a clear enough head to write this. And i'm not well. But I got a clear head...

How are we missing the point so much?

By making the force of the effectiveness of our prayers (be it to feel a Spiritual breakthrough or to get a healing) based on some allegorical idea from the Old Testament to which the Bible never says is an acceptable prayer model, we once again put the weight of getting things done on our works...aka the order we pray in. We become like the High Priests of the Old Testament who were forced to go through such a ritual day in and day out serving a law that Hebrews calls weak!

No i will not bow, no sir I will not bow to that Law. To that routine. That brings death. That says it is up to me and what i do and how I pray to get things done. It is such a bad form of Christianity. We can't go back. Please don't go back.

We have this weird desire inside us all who want to believe it is within us and our power and abilities to go to depths of God that others cannot because we do things the right way, the proper way. And the tabernacle prayer model offers one such avenue to make us feel like the spiritual depths we can go hinges on our abilities. 

But the whole point of Hebrews, especially in that dramatic climax of Chapter 8, is that the whole tabernacle/temple thing..It's obsolete and will disappear soon (the Temple did disappear not long after the book of Hebrews was written). Jesus is the Ultimate High Priest who in one act on that cross did everything we need to do to be well----->

Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.  (Hebrews 7:27)

We have a choice. We can rest the power of being able to do things in the spiritual realm on ourselves and fashion ourselves in the likeness of the obsolete covenant of the Law or we can move on, and see anything we need to do has been done by that God-Man, and grace is the only thing left. So we accept it and smile. Even in our sickness and inability to be super Christians. Because all reconciliation is by his Work and not ours.*  Because, everything that Tabernacle worked towards, was the God-Man. Don't be a traitor.

*Not that this is a free ticket to hedonistic debauchery, but that's a different topic)

In Conclusio....

I mean if we are all about "relationship" these days with God. What relationship do we have that is formulated into a linear fashion so that we may get to the deepest, most intimate part of the relationship. Seriously, think about your best friend. Got them in mind? Now imagine they walk into the room. What do you do? Well if our life was tabernacle-style communication....well... before you get to talk to your best have to actually start from outside while he is in the bedroom. Now to earn the right to be in communication with that friend...light something on fire. Preferably an animal. If you can't do that, light something of value on fire. Go ahead, do it!

Then go and wash your no...not like some hap-hazard washing stuff. Remember, you live in the wilderness. Your hands smell awful. Wash thoroughly like they want you to as an employee at a fast-food restaurant.

Walk inside the house. Now we aren't done with fire. So light those candles up! So pretty right? Now of course this dude wants to be your best friend, for all you're doing for him in preparation of a simple conversation.

Now eat bread. Yeah. Just eat it. I mean of course this part really only makes sense in light of Communion, but whatever. Forget about the communion bread. Eat the shewbread.

Burn Incense so this whole place smells good.

Now open up curtain to the bedroom. Ta dah! There is your best friend. And only now you can talk to him. This is such a good friendship. Yay!

Now just repeat this process every time you want to talk to your best friend.


  1. So I must say, I have never heard of this before.

  2. And you say you're a man unaccustomed to hope! Just look what your physical pain produces? Also never heard of this tabernacle thing, but your satire is applicable to all "formula-tic" approaches. And I can think of loads of those, even some I'm guilty of ever having tried to apply myself. Like I've said before, the law was weak, but so much easier for carnal man...

  3. How I have struggled with part of what you said. The part of the faith vial not being full and it must be because I haven't prayed the right prayer with the right words. I know there can't possibly be a "magical prayer" and yet we do try to find it!

    We assume that the person who says they are always seeing blinded eyes opened and the dead come back to life must know what it is...because I can't even pray the right prayer to get myself healed of a cold!! But there isn't one at all. And sometimes, I think some of those people who claim to have seen all those healings aren't just fibbing to us just.a.tiny.bit. Or at least borrowing stories from others as their own. But I'm digressing.

  4. I'm a scientist by trade and the reason we get paid is a following idea: if you study a thing you can understand the thing; if you understand the thing you can control a thing; if you can control a thing you can use it for the betterment of humanity and to make profits. For instance if one studies diabetes and understands it. One may be able to create a drug that renders diabetes harmless. One could then sell the drug to people with diabetes alleviating their suffering and bring you a tidy profit.
    I've always gotten very squeamish when people start talking about a relationship as if it was a science. I've seen several relationship self-improvement books both Christian and secular that can roughly be described as “how to control and manipulate your partner.” As if the goal of a relationship is to compel another human to do your will which would be a working definition of enslavement. I would contend, and I hope I'm not alone, that a mutualistic partnership with a fellow human is good and noble and enslavement evil.
    With that said there is a difference between control and etiquette. All relationships require work and forethought as to how to best serve the partner. Everyone has ways in which they can more easily feel your love for them, and ways in which will simply be annoying to them. There are ways to ask for aid that express love and are ways to ask for aid that induce offense. In relationship we should choose the former over the latter not because we wish to control them, but because we love them and wish to cooperate with them and serve them as hopefully they with us.
    When the relationship is not with a fellow human but with the Almighty then attempts to control must transcend evil into utter hubris. For this reason I'm often made uneasy by proposed formulas to prayer, because I often taste a hint or more of a controlling spirit within them instead of a cooperative and serving spirit.

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  6. Good stuff here, so many things to comment on, just full of good stuff....

    I havent heard of the TP, but have been guilty of dancing,shouting,claiming,pleading,sobbing and finally believing in my er... I mean Gods will on Sunday night only to have my, er again...I mean Gods victory shot back down to reality on Monday at noon.

    God works most of His miracles in slow motion doesnt He? All the while making sure He *doesnt* fit into a formula. Hes jealous. Jealous of our rituals and traditions. Maybe jealous isnt the word.


    Funny that we are always touting the fact that we bunheads dont have a schedule in church because you cant contain the wind, Gods Spirit is not predictable, yet our unpredictableness becomes predictable.

  7. I really enjoyed reading your blog post on prayer and the Tabernacle. I work for Rose Publishing, Inc and thought you'd be interested in their Rose Guide to the Tabernacle. It includes 128 pages with full-color illustrations and clear plastic overlays showing the "tent of meeting." 

    They also have a free downloadable eChart on High Priestly Garments:

    Hope these resources are helpful!
    Susan L