Prayer is multidimensional and it can be defined in several ways and taught through many principles of scripture. But one of the most foundational themes—especially obvious in the Old Testament—is that prayer is a bloody thing.
Take these few examples:
• The Lord blesses Solomon’s desire to build a temple, a place of sacrifice, and says it will be a place where “I will hear their prayers” (2 Chronicles 7:11—17). After the temple was completed it was dedicated and in this dedication ceremony Solomon offered a prayer on behalf of the people (1 King 8:22—53), said a corporate benediction (8:54—61), and this was followed by a blood sacrifice (62—66). In the temple, prayer and sacrifice went hand-on-hand, as God intended.
• In one place David builds an altar and his prayer is heard (2 Samuel 24:18—25). At another place, David entered the presence of God with sacrifice (Psalm 66:13—15) in the hopes of answered prayer (19—20). The Psalmist commonly weds together the themes of prayer and sacrifice (Psalm 4:1,5; 54:2,6; 54:2,6).
• The value of Job’s prayer for his friends is inseparable from the sacrifice made by his friends (Job 42:7—10).
• The prophet Isaiah decried the hypocrisy of Israel which made the sacrifices useless and, as a result, God closed his ears to their prayers (Isaiah 1:10—13 with v. 15). Without proper sacrifices there was no hearing.
• The nations were invited to worship God by assembling at “a house of prayer” where God would hear their prayers because offering and sacrifices were offered (Isaiah 56:7).
For the Old Testament saint, prayer and sacrifice were linked. And the same is true today. No prayer from our lips reach the ear of God without the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. The only pathway to the Living God is paved with Blood.
So we mustn’t grow content with the absence of Blood in our contemporary books on prayer.