"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it." Hebrews 4:16

To the Christian pilgrim, no promises are more encouraging, than those which assure him of an answer to believing prayer. His times of need are so numerous--his neediness so pressing--his hours of anxiety and fear so frequent, that this thought alone sustains his soul, "I have a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God." Is it a time of prosperity? then he has need to pray, "Lord, allow me not to forget You." Is it a time of adversity? then he has need to pray, "Lord, let me not be forgotten by You." Is it a time of health? then he has need to pray, "Lord, give me grace to use it for Your Glory." Is it a time of sickness? then he has need to pray, "Lord, make me patient and submissive to Your will." At all times, indeed--even when no words are uttered--when imploring no special blessing from on high--the Christian ought to cherish the spirit of prayer. That time, assuredly, is the time of severest need, when no need is felt, and no desire is cherished for a yet larger increase of grace and strength.

True, times there often are in the Christian life, when the soul, burdened--distracted--filled with earthly things, cannot enter into sweet and prayerful communion with its God--when the consciousness of sin and of unworthiness causes it, with fear and trembling, to "stand afar off." But blessed be God, there is, for such a "time of need," a gracious promise--"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words."

Yes, in the fullness of His grace and tenderness, He reveals the Savior to the soul, as the all-prevailing Intercessor--the Advocate at God's right hand. He turns the eye away from self and sin, to the Lamb of God whose blood is all-sufficient to cleanse and purify. He inspires the earnest supplication, "Lord, undertake for me." He clothes the weeping penitent in the robe of the Redeemer's righteousness, so that it may appear with acceptance before him who is "of purer eyes than to behold iniquity;" and He draws persuasively to a Throne of Grace--Himself "praying for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." Precious encouragement! Jesus at the Father's right hand--the Holy Spirit breathing in us the longing--the desire--the humble petition--Jesus presenting the merits of His perfect sacrifice--the Spirit enabling us to rest by faith on the blood of sprinkling; Jesus with His eye of love on the kneeling suppliant--the Spirit animating the soul with hope, and reinfusing "peace and joy in believing."

Christian! remember the throne to which you are invited is peculiarly the throne of grace. God has His throne of justice--His throne of holiness--His throne of providence, but this is the throne of grace. He occupies it as the God of grace, and He holds out from it the scepter of grace. All the blessings He bestows from it are blessings of grace. They are not to be purchased, but are given "without money and without price." They are not conferred because of any merit or worthiness of ours, but are the free, generous gift of divine grace. Not to the rich and mighty only are they offered, but to the poorest, the humblest--the most abject. Oh, is not this the very throne we need? We are poor and wretched--blind and helpless--sinful and vile. We have no righteousness of our own--no merits of our own--no plea of our own. But, blessed be God, here we may have every need supplied. It was erected for poor and needy suppliants just as we are. And, from age to age, myriads of helpless and heavy-laden souls have gathered round it, and poured forth their desires to "the Hearer and the Answerer of prayer." Toiling painfully through a world of woe, they have here found rest--faint and thirsty in the valley of tears, they have here been refreshed and invigorated--wandering solitary through earth's dreary wilderness, they have here enjoyed holy and heavenly communion with the Father of their spirits--opposed and beset by hostile enemies, they have here found strength, and support, and protection. Yes, the weak have been strengthened--the downcast encouraged--the helpless relieved--the sorrowful comforted--the poor enriched, by drawing near to a throne of grace.

And it is, besides, ever near at hand. Go where the Christian may, he is never distant from a throne of grace. In the quiet of his chamber, or amid the bustle of daily toil--on the bed of sickness, or engaged in the anxieties of business--in the sanctuary, or in the market place--on the Sabbath, or during the week--in his home, or in the street--wherever he may be, he can, at any moment, lift up his heart to the Lord, assured that he shall be heard; and, if good for him, his request shall be granted. "It shall come to pass," says the Lord, "that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near unto those who are of a broken heart, and saves such as be of a contrite spirit."

Yes; the humble cottager, when he gathers round him his little flock, and, at the family altar, kneels in his lowly dwelling, is worshiping in heaven--the very scene where ten thousand times ten thousand bright and beautiful beings weave the high chorus of enraptured adoration. The wanderer on the waters, whose voice seems drowned amid the din of the tempest, is speaking audibly within the veil, where is cast that 'anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,' by which a universe might hold, and never know shipwreck. The soldier, who, amid the thunders of the battle field, or by his lonely watch-fire, breathes forth a prayer indited by the Holy Spirit, his utterance is heard above, far away from the tented field and the crash of war--where the pilgrim rests from all his labors. On the land and on the sea, at home or abroad, in the publicity of business, or in the privacy of retirement, "the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry."

Christian! if you would have strength for duty--patience for trial, and deliverance out of trouble--if you would have that inward peace which the world can neither give nor take away--if you would tread the Pathway of Promise cheerfully and hopefully, you must give yourself unto prayer. It is alike your blessed privilege, and your solemn duty. It brings you into the nearest and most intimate communion with your God you can have upon earth. It gives new life to the drooping spirit--it imparts new vigor to faith--new fervor to love--new intensity to zeal. It raises the desires and affections above the things of the present world, and fastens them on the things which are above. It draws down from the heavenly storehouse the richest blessings of the covenant of grace. It secures, in every time of need, the help of Him who is all-mighty--the guidance of Him who cannot err--the protection of Him who rules in heaven and on earth--the love and sympathy of Him, who "spared not His own Son but gave Him up unto death for us all," and who, with Him, will also "freely give us all things."

Oh, then, whatever be your need, come "with boldness" to the Throne of grace--not the boldness which would attempt to dictate to God--not the boldness which would prescribe to Him who "knows what things we have need of before we ask Him"--but the boldness of a loving, trustful child who confides in a Father's tenderness--who is conscious of a Father's love, and who is ready to unburden itself of all its cares, and griefs, and anxieties, assured that He will "withhold no good thing." Come thus to the mercy-seat, and you will not be sent empty away. You will "obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need"--reviving, quickening, restraining, sanctifying grace--grace for sunshine and for storm--grace for health and for sickness--grace for joy and for sorrow--grace for the family and for the world--grace for living and for dying. Let nothing keep you at a distance from the throne of grace--not even your sins and shortcomings--your unbelief--your coldness--your ingratitude. Mourn over these; let tears of penitence flow at the remembrance of them--but stay not away--seek the renewal of the "blood of sprinkling"--go to Him who is "a merciful God, full of compassion, long-suffering, and of great pity." Detail your every anxiety in the ear of Divine sympathy--plead for mercy through the merits of Christ's atoning blood, and rely with humble faith on God's promises of pardon. Repair with every difficulty to Divine wisdom, and seek the supply of every want out of the Divine resources.

Remember, the gate of access is ever open, and the winged prayer will, in an instant, bring the Savior near--in all the intensity of His love--in all the fullness of His grace--in all the omnipotence of His strength--in all the sweetness of His sympathy, and assurance of His death-destroying might, into your faint and failing heart. Your experience will be that of David, "I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and He gave ear unto me. You have kept my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice."

Let this, then, be the language of your soul–
"O merciful God, who have graciously promised Your Holy Spirit to those who ask You, grant that I may enjoy His blessed influence. May He teach me how to pray, and stir me up to greater earnestness, that, loving You above all things, and relying ever upon Your grace, I may be able to rejoice in the hope of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

"My God! is any hour so sweet,
From blush of morn to evening star,
As that which calls me to Your feet–
The hour of prayer?

"Blessed is the tranquil hour of morn,
And blessed that hour of solemn eve,
When on the wings of prayer upborne,
The world I leave.

"Then is my strength by You renewed,
Then are my sins by You forgiven;
Then do You cheer my solitude
With hope of heaven.

"No words can tell what sweet relief
There for my every need I find;
What strength for warfare, balm for grief–
What peace of mind.

"Hushed is each doubt, gone every fear,
My spirit seems in heaven to stay;
And even the penitential tear
Is wiped away.

"Lord! until I reach that blissful shore,
No privilege so dear shall be
As thus my inmost soul to pour
In prayer to Thee." –Anon.


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