Many Christians struggle to pray. Whether it’s with feelings of guilt or shame, the struggle often becomes the question: "why pray at all?"
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” – Hebrews 4:16
Hebrews 4:16 provides the answer to why Christians are to persevere is the High Priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The ministry of Christ reconciles God’s people to God and opens Heaven’s chest of grace, which makes possible the vast resource of prayer. To approach the throne of God in prayer on the basis of Christ’s High-Priestly ministry is to come to His propitiating sacrifice and present intercession. By telling God’s people to come before His throne, the author of Hebrews reminds God’s people that it is the place where blood has been offered, the mercy seat where God calls sinners to meet with Him.
Spurgeon and Coming Before the Grace of God
In a great sermon on this text, Charles Haddon Spurgeon worked out some of the implications for how Christians are to approach God in prayer. Firstly, Christians must come in humble reverence. If Christians show great respect in the courts of earthly majesty—in the White House, or Buckingham Palace—then surely God’s people will come with even greater reverence before the throne of heaven. There is no place for pride or vanity here. If God’s people could see what truly is before them in Christ, they would tremble at His awesome majesty. Spurgeon writes, “His throne is a great white throne, unspotted, and clear as crystal. Familiarity there may be, but let it not be unhallowed. Boldness there should be, but let it not be impertinent.”
Secondly, Christians should come to God in prayer with great joy. Christians come with great joy before the throne of God’s grace because of the favor that has been extended to them is a high privilege. Instead of judgment, Christians find themselves as favored children—invited to bring their requests to the King of Heaven.
Finally, Christians should come to God with confidence. Christians come to the throne of God’s grace favorably received as adopted sons and daughters of the King. They can speak freely with the King because of the grace they have received from their great High Priest who has gone ahead.
Summoned Before the Throne
The key to prayer—to praying often, openly, boldly, and freely with gladness of heart—is to know that one is clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Christians are invited to His saving ministry, purchased by His precious blood, and anticipated by His sympathetic intercession.
This means that when God’s people come, their sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, along with any faults are looked upon with compassion. Stumbling prayers are not criticized, but are received with kindness.
God requires His people to persevere in faith through the trials of the Christian life. To this end, He gives His people a great reason to press on: the saving work of the great High Priest Jesus Christ, able to save His people to the uttermost. Prayer is a great resource God gives His people, one that must not be neglected if they are to grow strong in the faith and persevere through the difficulties of life. Therefore, let God’s people draw near to God with reverence, joy, great expectation, and especially with confidence that belongs to sons and daughters of the King of heaven and earth.
Spurgeon provides us a fitting conclusion about the difference God’s grace makes for God’s people:
“I could not say to you, “Pray,” not even to you saints, unless it were a throne of grace, much less I could talk of prayer to you sinners; but now I will say this to every sinner here, though he should think himself to be the worst sinner that every lived, cry unto the lord and seek him while he may be found. A throne of grace is a place fitted for you: go to your knees, by simple faith go to your Savior, for he, he it is who is the throne of grace.”
Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, as well as the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine and one of the Co-Hosts for the Equipping You in Grace Podcast. Dave received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can find him on Twitter.