It is, therefore, by the benefit of prayer that we reach those riches which are laid up for us with the Heavenly Father. For there is a communion of men with God by which, having entered the heavenly sanctuary, they appeal to him in person concerning his promises in order to experience, where necessity so demands, that what they believed was not vain, although he had promised it in word alone. Therefore we see that to us nothing is promised to be expected from the Lord, which we are not also bidden to ask of him in prayers.John Calvin, Institutes, 3.20.2
It is a blessed thing to be with Christ while we are here. ‘I am ever with thee.’ What is it the pious soul desires in this life? Is it not to have the sweet presence of Christ? He cares for nothing but what hath something of Christ in it; he loves duties only as they [lead] to Christ: Why is prayer so sweet, but because the soul hath private conference with Christ? Why is the word precious but because it is a means to convey Christ? He comes down to us upon the wings of the Spirit, and we go up to him upon the wings of faith. An ordinance without Christ, is but feeding upon the dish instead of the meat. Why doth the wife love the letter, but because it brings news of her husband? Here we enjoy Christ by letters, and that is sweet; but what will it be to enjoy his presence in glory? Here is that which may amaze us, we shall be with Christ. Christ is all that is desirable: nay, he is more than we can desire. A man that is thirsty, he desires only a little water to quench his thirst; but bring him to the sea, and here he has more than he can desire. In Christ there is not only a fullness of sufficiency, but a fullness of redundancy; it overflows all the banks. A Christian that is most sublimated by faith, hath neither a head to devise, nor an heart to desire all that which is in Christ. Only when we come to heaven, God will enlarge the vessel of our desire, and will fill us as Christ did the water-pots with wine, ‘up to the brim.’John Newton
Communion presupposes union. By nature we are strangers, yea, enemies to God; but we are reconciled, brought nigh, and become his children, by faith in Christ Jesus. We can have no true knowledge of God, desire towards him, access unto him, or gracious communications from him, but in and through the Son of his love.
He is the medium of this inestimable privilege: for he is the way, the only way, of intercourse between heaven and earth; the sinner’s way to God, and God’s way of mercy to the sinner. If any pretend to know God, and to have communion with him, otherwise than by the knowledge of Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent, and by faith in his name, it is a proof that they neither know God nor themselves.
God, if considered as abstracted from the revelation of himself in the person of Jesus, is a consuming fire; if they should look upon us without respect to his covenant of mercy established in the Mediator, we could expect nothing from him but indignation and wrath. But when his Holy Spirit enables us to receive the record which he has given of his Son, we are delivered and secured from condemnation; we are accepted in the Beloved; we are united to him in whom all the fullness of the Godhead substantially dwells, and all the riches of divine wisdom, power, and love, are treasured up.
The Works of John Newton, 1:306
If we do not delight in communion with him, we do not honour him as the chiefest good. Friends love to be often in one another’s company, and certainly ‘it is good to draw nigh to God,’ to preserve an acquaintance between him and us. He hath appointed his ordinances, the word and prayer, which are as it were a dialogue and interchangeable discourse between God and the creature. In the word he speaketh to us, and in prayer we speak unto him. He conveyeth his mind in the word, and we ask his grace in prayer. In prayer we make the request, and in the word we have God’s answer. Well, then, when men neglect public or private prayer, or opportunities of hearing, they are guilty of ungodliness. So far they break off communion with God, especially if they neglect prayer, which is a duty to be done at all times—a sweet diversion which the soul enjoyeth with God in private, a duty which answereth to the daily sacrifice. Therefore the neglect of prayer is made to be a branch of atheism, Ps. 14:3, 4. When men are loath to come into God’s presence, out of a love to ease and carnal pleasures, and care not if God and they grow strange, or seldom hear from one another, it is a great evil. Our comfort and peace dependeth much upon frequent access to God.
The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 5:139.
Communion with Christ is a foretaste of heaven. Here we enjoy His person and all the sweet relations to His person. We enjoy His death and all the saving fruits, privileges, and influences of His death. We are also brought into Christ’s banqueting house, held in His galleries, His banner over us being love. We are carried up to the mount with Christ, that we may see Him (as it were) transfigured, and may say with Peter, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us here build tabernacles” (Matt 17:4).
Oh, it is a happy thing to have Christ dwelling in our hearts, and to lodge in Christ’s bosom! It is a happy thing to maintain communion between Christ and our souls! He took our sins; we take His healing; He endured wounds for us; we drink the spiritual balsam that sprang from His wounds; He took upon Him our unrighteousness; we clothe ourselves with His righteousness. He endured pains for us; we come to Him and take His rest to our souls. He embraced our curse and condemnation; we embrace His blessing, justification, and salvation. To this end we look on Jesus.
Now, if He hides His face by desertion, do not rest until you find Him. And when you find Him, hold fast to Him, do not let Him go, nor drive Him from your heart through your corruptions. If you would prize the presence of Christ, how comfortably would you maintain and increase your communion with Him.