"Let us come with boldness to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
In times of trouble, there is no comfort like that of prayer. It is a marvel that sinful man may have any communion with his Maker; still more, that such communion may be with boldness! How shall we think of Him so as to be encouraged to pray to Him? As on the throne of Empire?—It is too vast! As on the throne of Justice?—It is too stern! As on the throne of Glory?—It is too dazzling! He is on the Throne of Grace! The Empire is ruled with kindness, the justice linked with mercy, the glory beaming with love. Our encouragement to approach it is this—He who prayed in Gethsemane has passed into the heavens, to pray for us.
Our chief and comprehensive request must ever be "Mercy and Grace." The first prayer of penitence is "God be merciful to me a sinner." He who atoned for sin is before the throne to plead for sinners. Grace includes more than mercy. It is seasonable support at all times. If mercy forgives our failings, grace helps us not to fail. We need mercy to pardon, grace to purify; mercy to give life, grace to nourish it; mercy to rescue us from Pharaoh, grace to guide us to Canaan; mercy to lay the foundation of the temple, grace to complete it to the top-stone. Grace every day, in all circumstances—in prosperity, lest we forget God; in adversity, lest we distrust Him; in temptation, lest we fall; in conflict, lest we yield; in anguish, lest we faint. Our great encouragement is that on the Throne is One who has known the need of help from God, from angels and from men.
It is in the garden of grief that we specially need "grace for seasonable help" to sustain the heavy burden of the oil-press—patience, submission, acquiescence, undoubting trust, the love that accepts cheerfully every cup, however bitter, which our Father gives us to drink! Surely He who so took the cup in Gethsemane, and who is now "perfected" on the throne, will bestow the grace for which we may ask in full assurance of faith.
We may come "with boldness." Not the boldness of presumption; for if we would "serve God acceptably" it must be "with reverence and godly fear." Not the boldness of self-will; but ever praying—"Father, Your will." Not the boldness of self-merit; but saying with Daniel, "We do not present our supplications before You for our righteousnesses, but for Your great mercies."—It is the boldness of reliance on God's own nature and promise. He has bidden us pray, assured response, and promised help. He means what He says. So we may come with reliance, though with reverence; with earnestness, though with submission; with confidence, though with penitence; with the boldness of a child telling all its griefs and needs to a pitying parent—the boldness Jesus encouraged in the parable of the importunate widow, and rewarded in the case of the Syrophenician mother.
Are we discouraged by the infinite majesty of God? He is revealed in Jesus as full of compassion and near to every one of us. Does sin make me fearful in approaching a God so holy? My Priest offers Himself as a sacrifice, pleading His merits to atone for my misdeeds. Do I hesitate because of the unworthiness of my prayers, the defective penitence, the lack of fervor, and the wandering thoughts? He is "touched with a feeling of our infirmities." He knows the habitual desire of the heart in spite of the intrusion of other things. He knows we "hate vain thoughts," and though they persist in flying round us like stinging gnats, we do not encourage them to settle upon us. If we cannot drive them off let us turn them into prayer, and use the subjects they suggest for fresh petitions; so shall these very hindrances become helps. Our best prayers are indeed defective, but His mingle with ours, and "Him the Father always hears."
But I need so very much! my guilt is so great, my faith so weak, my burden so heavy! He knows it all. Our very guilt is a plea with Him who came on purpose to bear it. Our need is an argument with Him who has a boundless store and wishes to dispense it. Our sorrow is a resistless recommendation to Him who came to "bind up the broken-hearted."
"The Spirit also helps our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Jesus pleads for us before the throne—He also sends us more than angelic help, even that of the "other Comforter," who pleads with us in our hearts, prompting desires beyond the imperfection of words to express.
Let us then pray with full assurance of faith, seeing that the throne is the throne of grace, that our Father is "the God of all grace," and "waits to be gracious;" and that at His right hand is He who died for us, who is not ashamed to call us brethren, shares our sorrows, pities our infirmities, and is pledged for our salvation. Whatever the burden of our grief, whatever the desire of our heart, let us "draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need."