|Edmund Clowney on prayer, from BeginningWithMoses.org|
The very expressions used to describe God's self-revelation show that the initiative must come from him. Man cannot ascend into heaven to look upon the face of God, nor can he build a temple-tower to bring God down to the box of his religious specifications. This was the sin of the builders of the tower of Babel. Rather than calling upon the name of the Lord, they sought to make for themselves a name, and to build a tower that would establish communication with God on their terms. The phrase that describes the tower of Babel (the top reaching to heaven) is repeated in a different context when God reveals himself to Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 11 :4; 28: 12). The stairway of Jacob's dream is set up by God, not by men; it is God who takes the initiative. He descends the stairway to stand beside Jacob in the dream and to repeat the promises that he had made to Abraham. By God's initiative his presence is made known. Jacob marks the spot as Bethel, the 'house of God', exclaiming, 'Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it!' (Gen. 28:16).