Praying in a Holy Place
By Ryan Wilson, Forest Park SDA Church pastor
Editor’s Note: One of the best spiritual enrichment experiences Washington Conference can provide for our ministry team is traveling through the Holy Land. Our third and final planned tour to the Holy Land just completed and we asked Pastor Ryan Wilson to share one of the insights he experienced.
On the first night in Jerusalem, a small group of us left our hotel after dinner and ventured the short walk to Old Jerusalem with the intention of seeing the Wailing Wall.
We made our way down the narrow stone streets through the Muslim quarter. Passing through an Israeli checkpoint and turning a corner, seemingly out of nowhere, the Wailing Wall appeared. It was truly an awe-inspiring sight to behold.
Overcome by the ambiance and grandeur, a member of our group spontaneously and tightly gripped my arm and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness, we’re actually here!”
It’s hard to describe the privilege of being in a place that has such a rich historical and spiritual heritage.
Coming late in the evening, as we did, afforded us a calm and tranquil atmosphere in which to soak in our first impressions of the Wailing Wall. After standing for quite some time just taking it all in, in order to get the full experience, our group separated, men on the left and women on the right, and made our way down to the wall to pray.
While praying with my hands on the wall, God reminded me of many things.
He reminded me that the earthly sanctuaries were merely copies and shadows of the one true sanctuary in heaven (Heb. 8:5). Jesus is there interceding on our behalf right now (Rom. 8:34). We are invited to boldly approach that throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).
Additionally, the following verses from the great hall of faith came very clearly to me: “If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:15-16, ESV).
Being at the Wailing Wall was an amazing experience, but not in the way we anticipated.
My friend who grabbed my arm had expected the experience of praying at the wall to be really moving.
But, in her words, “I touched it and realized it was nothing but cold rock. God knew that our relationship doesn’t require a place and that having the Holy Spirit with us all the time is infinitely better than associating God with a place.”
My own thoughts are very similar. In those moments at the wall, I experientially understood that my faith is not place dependent. The truly overwhelming experience for me was the calm assurance of salvation by faith and my great desire to take up residence in the New Jerusalem.
In those moments of prayer, I looked forward to New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God as the eternal dwelling place of those from every nation, tribe, language and people.
Much more than being at any earthly “holy” place, I desire to take up residence in that eternal city where God the Father himself, and the Lamb Jesus Christ, will also dwell.