The ‘Veil of Sense’ Made Transparent by Prayer
It is prayer which brings us face to face with God. It is by the prayer of faith, that we close our eyes on things that are seen — and look away to things unseen. The veil of sense, like a veil, hangs over us, dimming our vision to eternal things — but prayer causes the mist to become transparent, so that the eyes of faith can pierce through and see many beauties in the perfections of God.
The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus when he prayed. His praying at the time of his baptism is mentioned by only one of the Gospel writers, Luke, who says, “It came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying — the Heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.” If you would have the heavens open — you must pray. If you would have the Holy Spirit rest upon you — live much in prayer. Again, Luke is the only New Testament writer who speaks of Jesus praying at the time of his transfiguration. Perhaps Luke saw more clearly, the virtue and power of prayer. He says, “He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.” Matthew and Mark, who tell of Jesus’ going up with these three disciples into the mountain, say nothing of his going there to pray. But it was to pray: “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed!” There is a changing, transforming power in prayer.
O Christ, so lovely, pure, and fair,
So beautiful in holiness,
If we but live with you in prayer,
Your beauty will be seen on us!
Your beauty like the rosy morn,
Purity like the crystal sea.
O God, if we but live in prayer,
We come to be as pure as thee!
When Moses went up into the mountain, a cloud covered it, hiding the glory of the Lord for six days — but on the seventh day, the cloud became transparent, and then Moses talked to God for thirty-three days. It is in prayer — that we get visions of God.
Trials are good, in that they drive us to the Lord in earnest prayer. It is trials, which cause us to cling to the promises. Trials serve a very important part in keeping the Christian refined and holy. Ofttimes, God would have us see more of his love, tenderness, and beauty, and come nearer him. The only way whereby he can get us to do these things — is to let some trial come upon us!
When Absalom was conspiring to dethrone his father David, the ambitious son asked Joab, captain of the king’s army, to come and confer. At first Joab refused — but Absalom devised a plan whereby he could get the old warrior to meet him. Joab’s barley field being near Absalom’s, the conspirator sent his servants to set fire to Joab’s barley — and thus drew Joab out to him. In like manner, the Lord must sometimes do something painful to us — in order to get us to come nearer him. He must set our barley field on fire, so to speak.
Our affections may be taking hold on some earthly idol — so that for our safety, God must set this idol on fire. We may be growing a little ambitious along some line, and building hopes on a foundation other than God himself. He must in some way rid us of those hopes and ambitions, and oftentimes there is no better way than a conflagration. The eye may become attracted by something of the world. That object grows as a thick mist between us and God, so that we can no longer see him. Seeing our danger, the Lord in his faithfulness to us — sets fire to that object, and by the light of that fire — we can see our way back to God.
Strive to avoid the thickening of the veil of sense around you. When the mist has cleared away, climb up aloft — and you can see the smiling face of Jesus. Today this veil of sense may be very thin to you, almost as thin as it was to Stephen when he was being stoned to death — but this transparency of our individual self — has been brought about through much suffering and prayer. It has cost you something — but it is all the dearer because it has. Many a night your heart has wept before the Lord. Sometimes you have wrestled until the dawning of the day.
There may be a vacant chair at your fireside. She who so long shared your joys and sorrows, who by her gentle words and cheering smile helped you over many a rough and trying place in life — has died, never to return. Perhaps with bleeding heart you sit beside an empty crib. These things help to part the veil of the temple of human self, and you, looking through, see that your loving, faithful wife walking the gold paved streets of the celestial city, strolling amid the blooming flowers of an eternal Eden, or sitting peacefully in the shadow of the Tree of Life.
God designs every earthly loss — to prove a heavenly gain to you. If you will draw near to him in prayer, he will tell you why those things are — or bid you to wait a little longer with the promise that you shall know some day and understand why.
Not a single spot in our life is so barren — but that if it is watered by prayer, it will produce some tender blade or blooming flower. Pray on and let your vision pass beyond the things which are seen and temporal — to those which are unseen and eternal.