Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” – John 19:28
Do you know what it’s like to thirst for God? Do you know what it feels like to be so in need of the presence of God that your soul feels parched and dry? Have you ever found yourself in such a deficit spiritually that you longed for just a drop of the promise of God’s presence?
Jesus, the Living Water, as He hung in the heat of the day, high on a wooden, bloodstained cross, cried out, “I am thirsty.”
Was Jesus crying out for something to drink because of physical need for water? Sure. But what of His spiritual need? Just a few verses prior to His declaration of thirst, the sky had darkened, and God had turned His back on the sins heaped on Jesus during His crucifixion. Jesus could hardly bear the separation from His Father. Being apart from God was the source of His agony.
Could His cry for thirst have come from a place of spiritual longing for the presence and power of God the Father, missed by Jesus as He entered into the last moments of His life?
I believe the deepest longings and frustrations of our hearts stem from a parched soul. A soul that cries, “I am thirsty,” yet fails to tap into the One who gives freely of His power and presence, so our thirst can be quenched and satisfied.
But how does one access and commune with the Satisfier?
Simply put, God has given believers unfettered access to His presence through the invitation to converse with Him in prayer. Through the powerful mechanism of prayer, we are transported from the earthly realm to the spiritual, where we enter a holy place of communion with the Father.
Prayer is nothing more than talking to God. Not to be reserved for special occasions or desperate times. If we want to remain connected to God, we are to remain engaged in prayer. Prayer is to be a way of life, because prayer is the way we engage with the heavenlies while living as earthen vessels. Prayer is how we stay connected to God’s presence and His power.
In the Old Testament tabernacle, we see a beautiful picture of this in the fifth article of the tabernacle. A box made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold stood beside the altar of incense, squarely in front of the veil, which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Of all the articles in the Holy Place, this piece was situated closest to the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat where the presence of God dwelled. Keep in mind that in the Old Testament those precious articles, along with the glory of the Lord, hid behind the veil and could only be seen by the priest, once a year, on the Day of Atonement.
Two times a day—morning and evening—the priest would tend the altar of incense. Prepared exclusively for the tabernacle, the incense burned on the altar was a special God-prescribed mixture. As the priest performed his duty of burning incense at the altar, he stood on the edge of the heavenlies and the aromas that rose up from the altar represented the prayers of the people wafting up to heaven. Communion with God happened daily for the priest as he stood a mere yard from the place in which God’s presence dwelled. The veil was the only thing that separated the presence of God and man.
Can you imagine what it must have felt like for the priest—the holiness of it all. Hour by hour he would attend to the tabernacle, and then the morning or evening time of sacrifice would come. With the day’s sin, life’s hardships, and the pressures of life weighing on his shoulders, the priest must have thirsted for time alone in God’s presence at the altar. Yes, he tended to the lampstand by keeping the oil filled and the wicks burning. Yes, he went in and out of the temple daily, but only twice a day could he stand on the precipice of the Holy of Holies and only once a year could he go in and see the glorious sight.
And then came the time—time to stand on the holy ground which bridged the gap between earth and heaven. Time to make his way into the very presence of God through the conduit of prayer.
What exhilaration, what satisfaction, what rest he must have found standing only feet from the throne of God the Father to intercede on behalf of the people.
But we have direct access to the throne of God through Jesus our intercessor. That same exhilaration, that same satisfaction, that same rest is ours for the taking as we commune with our Savior in prayer.
There is no need for us to ever be thirsty, because there is always a way for us to enter into the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God through our intercessor, Jesus.
Hear these words today …
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? –Psalm 42:1-2
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. –Isaiah 55:1
Jesus said, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” –John 4:14
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. –Revelation 22:17
As Jesus breathed His last breaths and spoke some of His last words, He thirsted for the Living God. His dry and parched soul, deadened by our sins, caused Him to whisper words of want—the I AM was thirsty—and His thirst could only be quenched by sweet communion with His Father.
Communion with the Father is our only hope for satisfaction as well. Will you spend some time in His Word and on your knees in prayer today? Sit for a while with Him. Spend your days communing with Him by standing in the space between earth and heaven—the holy ground of prayer.
Ask the Living Water to quench your thirsty soul today.
Meditate on Psalm 42 during your time of prayer.
Jacqueline C. Heider
Director of Women’s Ministry,
Prayer & Special Needs Ministry