"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

"The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."—Romans 8:26

When our blessed Lord—on the eve of His departure from the disciples—was pouring His sweetest and richest consolations into their sorrowing hearts—He disclosed to them the precious truth, that thenceforth they, and every believer in Him, should have two Comforters. He would still be their faithful, unchangeable Comforter in heaven, there—ever living as their Advocate with the Father—pleading their cause, and presenting the merits of His most precious sacrifice. And He would also send "another Comforter," to co-operate with Himself, that while He would be removed from earth to heaven—the other Comforter would come down from heaven to earth, and carry on the work of sanctification in the hearts of His people, until they had finished their course and entered the kingdom.

So, likewise, the Word of God informs us that they have two Intercessors. Christ is one Intercessor in the presence of God—the Holy Spirit is another, dwelling in the souls of believers. Christ intercedes that they may become sons—the Spirit intercedes when they are sons. Christ's intercession is meritorious, and removes difficulties in the way of their salvation—by the Spirit's intercession they obtain forgiveness of sin, and all other benefits of Christ's passion. The Savior appears for them in the presence of God—while the Holy Spirit makes known the longings and desires—the anxieties and fears, which fill the soul of the believer, and to which he is utterly unable to give expression at the throne of grace. What love and sympathy towards weak and helpless suppliants! Not only will the Spirit "help our infirmities"—not only will He dispel our ignorance and teach us what to ask of God—not only will He instruct us "how to pray" as we ought, but He will "make intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Yes, Christians, when words are too weak to express half the craving desires or deep emotions of the soul—when thoughts arise too big for utterance, or when—under some crushing trial, or the secret consciousness of indwelling sin—the lips utter not a word—then, the Holy Spirit interprets the thoughts, and reads the language of desire. God, who searches the heart, understands the mind of the spirit; and so, the scarcely breathed sigh—the ardent desire for Jesus—the longing for divine conformity—the silent heaving and aspiration of the heart—find acceptance with the High and Holy One. Unintelligible and meaningless to us, they have a sense and a language clear to Him who inspired them. They are not lost; God hears—God receives them all, and lays up the memory of them among His choicest treasures.

Despond and despair not, then, trembling soul, because, at times, you kneel at the throne of grace—full of all spiritual desire, and yearning for more grace—and yet are speechless, because of the very lack of words to speak your desire. It is for your comfort and encouragement such words as these are sent, "The Spirit Himself makes intercession for you with groanings which cannot be uttered." Oh, hang not back, because of conscious—felt unworthiness. If only the worthy might approach with the hope of being heard, who would venture to draw near? Unworthy you are to ask anything either for yourself or for others. Yet, you are urged and invited to come "with lowly boldness." The Spirit is ready to help your infirmities, to teach you what to pray for, and how to pray as you ought.

Oh! it is this which renders man inexcusable—it is this which makes salvation possible, and condemnation just. Men may have the Spirit's influence—it is promised in answer to human supplication—it is even suspended on the breath of prayer; and, if they will but seek for its outpouring, there is not one heart—one soul, that may not be of those who enjoy the abiding presence of the Comforter. He will abide and dwell in their hearts. There will He reside, in intimate and familiar converse with their spirits—guiding them in all their wanderings—comforting them in all their sorrows—strengthening them in all their weaknesses—and sealing and binding the comforts of God upon their souls. All His blessed influences will be directed to cherishing and feeding the flame that burns on the altar of their spiritual life—to keep away all that would desecrate and pollute that holy temple. "Having begun a good work in them, He will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Having laid the first stone of that spiritual temple, He will continue to add stone to stone, until it becomes "a building in the heavens."

Reader! be persuaded, to entreat the help and guidance of this blessed Spirit, at the throne of grace. Let it be your daily prayer, that He may come down, in all the plenitude of His heavenly graces, on your soul, even, 'as rain upon the mown grass and as showers that water the earth.' You cannot live without Him—there cannot be one heavenly aspiration—not one breathing of love—not one upward glance of faith without His gracious influences. Apart from Him, there is no preciousness in the Word—no blessing in ordinances—no permanent, sanctifying results in affliction. As the angel directed Hagar to the hidden spring, this blessed Agent—true to His name and office—directs His people to the waters of comfort—giving new glory to the promises—investing the Savior's character and work, with new loveliness and beauty.

Whatever, then, be your present situation, seek the promised help of the Holy Spirit. He has a healing balm for all—the weak, the tempted, the sick, the sorrowing, the bereaved, the dying. And, unlike other 'sons of consolation'—whom a look may alienate, whom adversity may estrange, and death must separate—He will abide forever; superior to all vicissitudes—surviving death itself." Come, then, with your cross—come with your infirmity—come with your need—come with your wounded spirit—come with your broken heart—and the blessed, comforting Spirit breathing on your soul, and inditing the petition, will "make intercession for you according to the will of God."

Above all, cultivate the habit of secret prayer. He who prays only when he prays with others, would not pray at all, were it not that the eyes of others are upon him. He who will not pray, where none but God sees him, manifestly does not pray at all out of respect to God or regard to His all-seeing eye, and therefore, in effect casts off all prayer. There are disclosures to be made—errors to be unfolded—shortcomings to be wept over, with none but God as a witness. It is by secret communion with God, that the believer becomes girded for the conflict—strengthened for the hour of trial—and fitted for the joys of heaven.

Some may peruse these pages, who have never yet sought in earnest the help of the Holy Spirit. Reader! what is all your profession worth, without this gracious—this all-prevailing Intercessor? what your name to live, while you are dead to the true life and spirit of prayer? All your profession of godliness—your outward zeal—your church membership—all is but "a fair show in the flesh;" an empty name, while you have not, and seek not, the help of God's Holy Spirit. Whether you believe it or not—among the myriads of poor, pitiable, wretched beings on the earth's surface—there is not one more helpless, more truly miserable, more an object of pity, than the man who, inwardly conscious of the duty of prayer, still dares, from day to day, to live without it. For, true it is, that the man who lives, without prayer and supplication in the family and in the closet—the man, be he peer or peasant, master or servant, who engages in life's duties, and hurries to his daily toil, without a humble and earnest aspiration to the Hearer and Answerer of prayer, to bless, guide, and preserve him, is at this moment a man "without God and without hope in the world," and one who, if the dread summons of the last messenger were now to sound in his ears, would leave the world, without one true hope of immortality to sustain and comfort him.

Oh, then, if now you are sensible of the slightest motion of your heart towards God—the feeblest desire to come to the throne of grace, cherish it as your most costly mercy. It is the first gentle breathing of the blessed Spirit in your soul—it is the first pulse of spiritual life. Every solemn thought awakened—every anxiety kindled in the soul—every desire heavenward, however feeble, is proof of the Spirit's work, which, if cherished and not checked, by the powerful obstinacy of the carnal mind, will be graciously made to result, in bringing the sinner to the foot of the Redeemer's Cross, as a humble suppliant for the free and full salvation—for the true and abiding conversion to God, which alone can fit the heart, for the reception of the Holy Spirit to dwell there as in a temple. Go then in penitence, and spread your case before the Lord—confess your sins—acknowledge your iniquity, humble yourself at His feet and God, for Jesus' sake, will receive you graciously, pardon you freely; and you will rise from your bended knees—relieved in heart—comforted in soul—prepared to follow the guidance, and to seek more and more the help of the Holy Spirit, as you journey onwards to your heavenly home.

Heavenly Father, who has graciously promised to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask You, grant us, we earnestly pray, this gift, for the sake of Your well-beloved Son. Let Your Spirit be shed abroad on us abundantly. Let Him be unto us a Spirit of light and truth, to guide us to the clear understanding of Your mind and will; a Spirit of power, to quicken and convert us, and to strengthen us with all needful might in the inner man; a Spirit of comfort, to cheer us in our times of trouble; a Spirit of holiness, to purify us more and more, and to make us fruitful in every good work. Grant that He may abide with us continually, making us to grow in knowledge and in grace, and filling us with His blessed and holy fruits, which are in all goodness and righteousness and truth. May He help our infirmities, rule and govern our hearts, and enable us so perfectly to attend to Your godly motions, that being strengthened by Your blessing and sanctified by Your truth, we may ever remain in the number of Your faithful and elect children, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hark, my soul! it is the Lord,
It is your Savior, hear His word;
Jesus speaks and speaks to thee,
"Say, poor sinner, lov'st thou Me?"

"I delivered you when bound,
And, when bleeding, healed your wound;
Sought you wandering—set you right,
Turned your darkness into light.

"Can a woman's tender care
Cease towards the child she bare?
Yes, she may forgetful be;
Yet will I remember thee!

"Mine is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above,
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death.

"You shall see My glory soon,
When the work of grace is done;
Partner of My throne shall be;
Say, poor sinner, lov'st you Me?"

Lord! it is my chief complaint,
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love You and adore;
Oh for grace to love You more!
—William Cowper

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