The surest way to lay hold of God in prayer is by grasping the fact that our Father in Heaven loves us and went to great lengths to bring us near in the place of prayer. We often say or have heard Christianity is not a religion but a relationship, but if we do not pray to God in intimacy we have exchanged that relationship for the religion that profits little to nothing.
John the Beloved remembered Jesus taught us to pray directly to The Father "because The Father Himself loves us, for we love Jesus, and believe that The Father sent Him into the World" (John 16:27). He later writes "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10). We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). John called himself "The disciple who Jesus loved" (John 13:23, John 21:7, John 21:8), so convinced was he of God's love.
There are not levels of righteousness, but the righteous and the unrighteous, the just and the unjust. God made Jesus Who knew no sin to be made sin on our behalf, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ (1 Cor 5:21). We are the righteousness of God in His eyes. There are, however, layers as to what and why the Father has acted on our behalf as sinners. Not only did the Father love the world so much that he gave His Only Begotten Son be a sacrifice for our sins to secure eternal life for those that believe in Jesus so they will never perish (John 3:16, as foundational and wonderful as this is as a stand-alone fact), but there are layers to the purpose for which He did it, namely that we might be reconciled back to The Father: "God was in Christ reconciling the world back to Himself, not counting their transgressions against them" (2 Cor 5:19). He cleared our sins so we can pray, fellowship, have a relationship with Him, witness and be the Kingdom of Priests He originally wanted for mankind.
So when we draw near to God, we should be able to "enter His gates with thanksgiving and enter His Courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). Father, we thank You for the Blood of Jesus that grants forgiveness. Stop. Reflect on that. Selah. Think about the particular sins you yourself have committed for which Christ had to die. There was no other way, Jesus asked about that in Gethsemane. There was and is no other way of salvation (John 14:6 -- "no one can come to the Father except by Me," and Acts 4:12 -- "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved").
JUSTIFICATION is a forensic "not guilty" because the debt has been paid by another, Christ.
"Arise My Soul Arise," Written in 1742 by Charles Wesley sung by Twila Paris 1992...
ADOPTION is an "act of God for us" where we are invited into familial relationship with God (prayer & living). If a group of people go to lunch and someone pays the bill and the transaction has been processed and approved, there is no more owed -- there is nothing one of the group can pay of the debt since the bill has been satisfied by the leader who paid the bill. But it is an entirely different thing if the leader who paid the bill invited you home to his house, gave you a room and you are invited to the family meals and to come along on family vacations. That is adoption, the way nd reason we were created, Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God (Luke 3:38).
JUSTIFICATION LEADS TO GRASPING ADOPTION -- It is the believer that has revelation of this Truth and grasps the object lesson that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It is not just for heaven in the future. "How much more now that we have received the grace of God and gift of eternal life shall we reign in life" as fully convinced in His love (Romans 5; read how the whole chapter is summary of grasping the demonstration of God's love since we have been cleared and cleansed by God and we have "peace with God" and are given "access to stand" in His presence by grace, and have experienced "the Love of God being shed abroad in our Hearts by The Holy Spirit" -- This is a quick introduction on the legal act of ADOPTION being witnessed by not only The Holy Spirit, but our own Spirit, Our spirit and The Holy Spirit bear witness to Scripture).
The root of this "Act of God for us" is from The Holy Spirit Himself where He testifies twice in Scripture, first in Romans: "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him" (Rom 8:15-17). Then in Galatians: "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God" (Gal 4:6-7).
B.B. Warfield, a 19th Century Theologian at Princeton (before Princeton went liberal) says the following about the Holy Spirit in the work of Adoption, that He is given "to cure a disease of the mind that will not profit fully by the evidence." God has, in His Word, clearly written His acts He has done for us forensically in justification and therefore, acts again for us in Adoption and bears witness in our spirit by His Spirit not something different to what the Scripture says, but The Holy Spirit bears witness with exactly what The Holy Spirit has already clearly recorded in Scripture, and our previous "touches" from God at different times in either Worship, or in prayer or by answered prayer -- that He loves us! (http://www.biblestudytools.com/classics/warfield-faith-life/the-spirits-testimony-to-our-sonship.html, 9th full chapter from top). It is what Paul says of adoption in Romans 5 "God demonstrates His Love for us" and that we have hope that does not disappoint because "the Love of God has been shed abroad in our Hearts through The Holy Spirit."
We see for what reason the Reformers through the ages wanted the people to have confidence before the Father in Prayer. The Reformers were rebuilding the fallen ruins of generations that believed you had to pay money to have your sins forgiven. The first thing The Reformers did during revival times was teach on Prayer and the essential doctrines of The Faith: The various catechisms, confessions and Bible translations in the modern languages of the times were to root and ground the believers in love. Luther went to great lengths to establish this, as did Calvin, Zwingli, Knox & others -- here is this common prayer, taken from one of the Oxford Martyrs of the English Reformation:
"ALMIGHTY God, who pourest out on all who desire it, the Spirit of Grace and of Supplication; Deliver us, when we draw nigh to Thee, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with stedfast thoughts and kindled affections, we may worship Thee in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen" (Book of Common Prayer, 1928, 1st Edition 1549, Archbishop Cranmer). Jesus, the Apostles and the Theological Reformers knew it was absolutely essential to know the Father in prayer, as well as to pray as taught by the Scriptures.
Jesus, Paul, The Reformers and the modern, believing remnant of Theologians and Pastors recognize how vital is is to healthy fellowship with God through prayer to recognize what God has done for us in declaring us not guilty, adopting us and showering The Holy Spirit on us: to know what Christ has given us in His inheritance and to not pray for it to come into existence would be as to know there was treasure hidden in the ground yet never grabbing a shovel to dig it up -- "But after we have learned by faith to know that whatever is necessary for us or defective in us is supplied in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, that we may thence draw as from an inexhaustible fountain, it remains for us to seek and in prayer implore of him what we have learned to be in him. To know God as the sovereign disposer of all good, inviting us to present our requests, and yet not to approach or ask of him, were so far from availing us, that it were just as if one told of a treasure were to allow it to remain buried in the ground" (John Calvin, On Prayer, A Perpetual Exercise of Faith, Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 20, section i & ii).
We praise You for Your Sovereign Power in Heaven, in ransoming a people to be Your "chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.(1 Peter 2:9). "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come" (Rev 4:8).
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."
But as for you, the LORD took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
Yet the LORD set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations--as it is today.
for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.
And the LORD has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised.
1 Samuel 12:22
For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.
The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.
For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.
And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.
They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.
And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says the LORD."
"On the day when I act," says the LORD Almighty, "they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him."
"When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, â€œThen to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.â€
"Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name."
2 Cor 6:16-17
God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17"Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18"And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty.
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Acts 15:5-21 When "Certain believers of the party of the Pharisees stood up and said (concerning Gentile Believers) that it was necessary to circumcise them and charge them to keep the Law of Moses..."
6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.
10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.
12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,
16 After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,
17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.
19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.