Theme: Drawing Nigh in Confidence
This week’s lessons remind us that because God is a God of grace, his throne is also one of grace, which is accessed by prayer through the work of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture: Hebrews 4:16
The bottom line of this discussion is that, because of who God is and what Jesus Christ has done in dying for us, changing the throne of judgment into a throne of grace, we who trust Christ are to draw near the throne of grace in confidence. If we came in our own merit, we could have no confidence at all. The throne of God would be a place of terror. But since God has done what was needed to take away all judgment for our sin, it is now sin for us to come in any other way but with confidence. If we come in confidence, we can come knowing that God will do exactly what the author of Hebrews says he will do, and we will indeed “find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Whatever our need may be! Do you seek forgiveness for sin? You will find God’s grace forgiving you for every sin. Do you need strength for daily living? You will find the grace of God providing strength. Do you need comfort because of some great loss? God will provide comfort. Direction for some important decision? You will receive direction. Encouragement? You will receive encouragement. Wisdom? That too.
Remember what Paul wrote in Romans 8: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (vv. 31, 32)? Charles Wesley must have been thinking of this when he wrote,
Arise, my soul, arise, shake off thy guilty fears; The bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears;
Before the Throne my Surety stands, Before the Throne my Surety stands, My name is written on his hands.
Five bleeding wounds he bears, received on Calvary; They pour effectual prayers, they strongly plead for me;
Forgive him, O forgive, they cry, Forgive him, O forgive, they cry, Nor let that ransomed sinner die.
My God is reconciled; his pardoning voice I hear; He owns me for his child, I can no longer fear;
With confidence I now draw nigh, With confidence I now draw nigh, And “Father, Abba, Father!” cry.
So pray! That is what we need to do. We do not need more lessons on prayer or elaborate instructions on how to pray. What we need to do is pray. So pray! The Bible says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7).
On one occasion Jesus told a story about prayer: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’
“Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly” (Luke 18:2-8).
The point of the story is not that God is indifferent or hard of hearing or difficult to be entreated. It is just the opposite. God is not indifferent. He hears each and every one of our cries. He has opened the way and is easy to approach through Jesus Christ. He does not always answer as we expect or according to our timetables, of course. His ways are not our ways; nor are his thoughts our thoughts (cf. Isa. 55:8). But he welcomes our prayers and delights to answer them.
So why do we not pray? Can it be that we do not really believe that God is like this? Or do we just not believe we need his help? Our text says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need” (vv. 14-16).
Abundant grace from the throne of grace. It is exactly what we need.
How are we able to come before God’s throne of grace with confidence?
What are we confident that God will do?
What does Jesus’ parable of the unjust judge teach us about God and his response to our prayers?
Reflection: How have you seen God answer your prayers in the past? What does that teach us about the need to persevere in praying?
For Further Study: To see how the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer should shape our own prayers, see Philip G. Ryken’s When You Pray (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2006).