“I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help; my help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1 -2).

Where is this hill of the Lord?  In the Old Testament it was the temple on the holy mount. In the New Testament it is God’s throne room, the throne of grace and mercy; where God sits enthroned over the universe as the Sovereign Lord, where Jesus our fore-runner has entered and sits on the right hand of our heavenly Father’s throne (Hebrews 6:19-20). We see this in Hebrews 4:16 and 12:22 -24, where we are told to come boldly to the throne of God.

So who may ascend confidently into this holy hill or mount of God? 

Psalm 24: 3-5 reads, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.  He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”

1.  He who has clean hands and a pure heart. 

Clean hands refer to our deeds, which include our lifestyle, character, attitudes, what we do and say etc.

Pure hearts refer to our inner life – thoughts, motives, imaginations, and desires – those things no one but God and you alone know about.

These Bible passages below re-echo the same message, the necessity of clean hands and a pure heart in prayer:

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands you sinners; and purify your hearts you double-minded.” James 4:8.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8.

2.  He who has not lifted up his soul to an idol.

These days many do not make graven images and bow to them physically but there are still many idols in people’s lives.  For example – phone, car, TV, sport, social media, parties, social functions, food, habits, people (friends, boy/girlfriend, relatives) etc. Good and legitimate things can become idols in our lives if we are not watchful.  An idol is anything that becomes an object of extreme devotion in our lives. lt is anything or anyone we put before and above God, love as equally or more than God, give our utmost thoughts, time, attention, hearts etc. to more than God. It is anything or persons we can easily substitute or give preference in place of God.  

Let me give a universal example: my national team is playing in the finals of the world cup the same day and hour my church is having a Bible study. I chose to stay at home and watch the football finals. I have given the football game preference. It became an extreme object of devotion.

It is possible to have an idol in your life and not even know it.  Ask God to point out any idol in your heart.  When He does you will be required to lay it down either temporarily or permanently or to just put it in its proper place.

“These men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity.” (Ezekiel 14:3).

3.  Nor sworn deceitfully – this refers to all and any form of lies, deceit, falsehood, dishonesty, false accusations – of any shade and colour.

He purifies us

Prayer is ascension into God’s holy presence, His holy hills or holy mounts and He has made this possible through the blood of His son.  He tells us to come boldly with holy hands and pure hearts.  And this should be the normal lifestyle of Christians.

If there is any sense of condemnation or conviction of sin when we come before God in prayer, we should confess it, repent of it and ask God’s forgiveness.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

We are told to pray without ceasing (1 These. 5:17 ). Even the one word, one sentence, on the spot, emergency prayer we pray to God is ascension into His holy hills and must be offered with clean hands and pure hearts.   

“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands…” (1 Timothy 2:8). 

 “O Lord, I cry out to you, “Come quickly.” Open your ears to me when I cry out to you. Let my prayer be accepted as sweet-smelling incense in your presence. Let the lifting up of my hands in prayer be accepted as an evening sacrifice.”  Psalm 141:1-3.

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