An Invitation to Pray at the Throne of Grace


hebrews-4-16

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

If we are going to live by grace, we must relate rightly to the God of all grace: namely, by walking in humble dependence. Continual, Spirit-led prayer is the basic way to express humility and faith to the Lord. How fitting it is, then, to consider God’s invitation to pray at the throne of grace.

The throne to which we are invited is the throne of God, revealed to the Apostle John. “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne (Revelation 4:2). This honored King of the universe is the Creator of everything, exercising His sovereign will by His infinite power. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11). This is a throne of everlasting holiness, as declared constantly by angelic creatures. “And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!'” (Revelation 4:8). For the godless, this will become a throne of judgment. “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it…And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God…And they were judged, each one according to his works…And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-13, 15).

If this throne were only characterized by sovereign power, holiness, and judgment, we could never approach it with any expectation of blessing. Yet, for those who will humbly receive eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, this is a throne of grace. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace.” We can approach this throne with spiritual confidence, because Jesus is seated there with the Father. “And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (, 12). The worthy one, who died for our sins, has opened the door to an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father‘” (Romans 8:15). Dread of God is replaced with boldness, by the grace of Jesus Christ: “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him (). Now, this throne is to us an altar of prayer for mercy and grace!

Abba, Father, I bow before Your throne, acknowledging You as the sovereign Creator and the holy Judge. Yet, I boldly approach You as my dear, intimate Papa! Although I deserved judgment, now through Jesus, I humbly expect mercy and grace!

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​More on a Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying


 

We…do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will…being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. (Colossians 1:9-10b, 12) 

In our previous meditation, we began to examine a classic illustration of Spirit-led praying. The basic request of this majestic prayer was to learn about, and walk in, the will of God. We “do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.” Now we look at other issues in this biblical example of Spirit-led praying. 

A significant aspect of the will of God involves fruitful laboring unto the Lord: “being fruitful in every good work.” The abounding grace of God is able to produce abundant ministry in our lives. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). 

The very core of God’s will is next: “increasing in the knowledge of God.” Getting to know the Lord is the supreme issue of life. “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). The corollary prayer in Ephesians has this as its fundamental request: “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17). A key verse for our grace devotionals suggests the connection between God’s grace and knowing Him. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). 

Another vital part of God’s will for us is spiritual empowerment: “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power.” With the Lord of grace Himself as our strength, there is no limit to what we can do. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Yet, such divine power is often imparted for reasons other than we might imagine: “for all patience and longsuffering with joy.” 

The final aspect of God’s will mentioned is gratitude: “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” Since all of these riches are God’s grace available through humble, trusting prayer, no wonder that the Lord concludes with a reminder about grateful hearts. 

Heavenly Father, I have a deep desire to be fruitful in service unto You. I have a strong yearning to know You more and more. I have a desperate need to be strengthened by You. I am overflowing with gratitude toward You. In humble faith, I cry out to You! 

​A Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying 


For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him. (Colossians 1:910a
As we have seen, the Lord calls us in various ways to pray without ceasing. We are to engage every issue of life every day in every way through Spirit-led prayer: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). In addition to this extensive call to prayer, the word of God also gives us heavenly insight concerning the general content of our prayers. Our next two meditations reflect this by offering a biblical example of Spirit-led praying. 

The Apostle Paul prayed consistently for the believers at Colosse. “We…do not cease to pray for you.” God’s will was the primary issue about which the Holy Spirit impressed Paul to pray: “to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will.” Such praying will ultimately lead people into the word of God, where the will of God is revealed. “This is the will of God, your sanctification…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:18). Truly understanding God’s will requires heavenly insight: “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Of course, this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). 

The Lord does not inform us of His will merely for our curiosity. Knowing God’s will is to lead to living God’s will: “that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.” Our Lord desires that we walk in a manner appropriate for identifying with Him and His great gospel of grace. “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). He wants us to be interested in what pleases Him, not what pleases self or the world: “proving what is acceptable [well-pleasing] to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). The Lord wants to work in us the heart seen in David’s Messianic confession. “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). Bringing the will of God into the heart of man is what the new covenant of grace accomplishes. “I will make a new covenant …I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts…who also made us sufficient as ministers [servants] of the new covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33 and 2 Corinthians 3:6). Living in prayerful dependence upon the grace of God will make us true “servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6). 

Dear Lord, I want to be fully controlled by Your will, pleasing You in every way. From Your word, grant me Holy Spirit insight into Your will. Teach me to pray in this Spirit-led manner, that Your grace might lead me to do Your will from deep within my heart

​Another Call to Pray without Ceasing 


Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18) 

Through His word, God calls us to lives of continual prayerfulness. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Jesus also calls us to this life of prayer, both by His teaching and His example. “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Luke 18:1 and Mark 1:35). Our present verse is another call to praying without ceasing. 

The context directs us to appropriate, by faith, the powerful spiritual resources that are ours in the Lord. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). These heavenly provisions are put on by looking to the Lord unceasingly in prayer: “praying always.” This constancy in prayer can be done with “all prayer and supplication.” God has arranged many appropriate ways for us to pray, such as confession, repentance, request, thanksgiving, rejoicing, praise, adoration, and more. Note, however, that every type of praying is to be done “in the Spirit.” As in all areas of life, we must depend upon the Spirit. He will grant us guidance and wisdom for praying according to the will of God. 

Godly praying also includes spiritual alertness: “being watchful to this end.” When prayer is especially needed, we can be tempted to slumber. In Gethsemane, the disciples were not alert to the great need to pray. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Mark 14:38). Again, this highlights our need to be led of the Spirit. Further, a part of our need for the Spirit pertains to perseverance: “with all perseverance.” Praying requires all kinds of spiritual persistence. Praying requires demanding spiritual labor. The Holy Spirit must sustain us in God’s strength, if we are to engage in prayer to the extent that our Lord often desires. Some of this call to persevering prayer involves the battles and needs that others are facing: “with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” It is not wrong for us to cry out to God concerning our own needs. Our Lord invites us to do such. “Let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Still, the Lord wants to use us in the lives of people near and far through the wonderful avenue of intercession. The vision for prayer given here is quite expansive: “Praying always… all prayer…all perseverance…all the saints.” 

Dear Lord, this extensive call to prayer humbles my heart. I see much room to grow in my prayer life. Yet, it stirs my faith as well. By Your Spirit of grace at work in me, such praying is possible. O Lord, please make of me such a prayer warrior, Amen. 

​Jesus’ Call to Pray without Ceasing


 

Pray without ceasing…Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…”And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him?” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 and Luke 18:1, 7) 

Praying without ceasing is the way to relate rightly to the God of all grace. Jesus called His followers to live in this prayerful manner when He told a parable that contrasted a godless human judge with God, our righteous judge. 

The primary message of this parable would be that men should persistently pray at all times. “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” Jesus used the illustration of a wronged widow who was appealing for help from an unjust judge. At first, the judge had no interest in assisting her. However, when she persisted, he relented and gave her relief. “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me” (Luke 18:4-5). The ungodly judge granted her relief, although he was not motivated by fear of God nor by compassion for man. His action was merely self-serving. Jesus then contrasts this to the holy motivations of our loving God, who responds to the needs of His children, as they call upon His name. “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him?” (Luke 18:7). The Lord Jesus hereby encourages us to pray without ceasing. 

Jesus’ own life was an example of praying persistently. At times, Jesus was up before dawn for extended prayer with the Father. “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35). On another occasion, He prayed the entire night through. “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). In addition to His rich private prayer life, Jesus prayed regularly in public as well. “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes…Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them… Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me” (; Luke 9:16; and ). If Jesus, the Son of God prayed habitually, how clearly we are to do the same. 

Jesus, my Lord, I want to heed Your radical call to a path of unceasing prayer. I want to follow Your wonderful example of a life of habitual prayer—in private and in public. Lord, stir my heart to such prayer, by Your empowering grace, Amen. 

CONTINUING IN THE GRACE OF GOD


When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord…Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. (Acts 11:23; 13:43)

Whenever the grace of God is allowed to work in human hearts, there will be evidences that appear. This can bring joy to those who are outwardly observing this inward work of grace. Still, it is appropriate to exhort those who have made progress in grace to continue in the grace of God.

When Barnabas arrived in Antioch to evaluate the reported spiritual revival, he was able to observe the outward confirmations of God’s inward work of grace. These verifications of grace caused him to rejoice. “He was glad.” However, he knew that words of exhortation were appropriate. Thus, he began to urge them to press on with Christ. He encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” It is important for those who have started out with the Lord (through faith in His name) to go on with the Lord. Life in Christ is basically about the most vital relationship of all. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). The Christian life is not only about meeting the Lord and receiving eternal life. This life-giving relationship with the Lord is to be nurtured and developed day by day unto abundant life.

Some time after Barnabas shared this exhortation with the saints in Antioch (north of Israel), he and Paul were visiting the believers in another Antioch (in Pisidia, in the region of modern day Turkey). Here, they gave a similar exhortation. However, on this occasion, their urging was related to God’s grace: [they] persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” Yes, grace is not only the way we begin with the Lord, but it is also the means by which we go on with Him. God’s grace is to be sought every day. It is a major error of the faith to relegate grace to days gone by. We can praise and thank the Lord for all of His grace experienced in previous years. Nevertheless, the grace of God is essential today—and in each new day. Also, it is so fitting that the saints in one town were exhorted concerning continuing in the Lord, whereas others later were urged regarding continuing in grace. Grace cannot be separated from the Lord Jesus. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Lord, I want to continue with You and Your grace. I do not want my experience of You and Your grace to consist only of days gone by. I long to know You better and to experience Your grace more—each day!