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  • Writer's pictureWayne Shelton

The Book of Hebrews - Our Great High Priest


Hebrews 4:14-5:10


If we are going to hold firmly to the faith we profess, we need prayer. Thankfully we have a great high priest who is interceding for us and invites us to ‘draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.’ And this makes possible the great resource of prayer.


What does it mean to approach the throne of grace? It means to come to God in prayer because of Christ’s high-priestly ministry; that is, his atoning sacrifice and present intercession. By telling us to come before God’s throne, the writer reminds us that it is the place where blood has been offered for us, the mercy seat where God calls sinners to meet him. But we are also reminded that it is to a King that we come; we come to the royal throne of the King of kings.


In a sermon on this text, Charles Spurgeon worked out some of the implications for our own approach to God in prayer (You can access the full sermon here).The first is that we come in lowly reverence. There is no place for pride or vanity here, and if our eyes could see what really is before us spiritually, we would tremble at its awesome majesty. Spurgeon writes, ‘His throne is a great white throne, unspotted, and clear as crystal…. Familiarity there may be, but let it not be unhallowed. Boldness there should be, but let it not be impertinent.”


Second, we should come with great joy. Why? Because of the favor that has been extended to us in so high a privilege. What have we merited but rejection from God’s presence and incarceration in his prison? Instead, we find ourselves received as favored children, invited to bring all our requests to the King of heaven.


Next, our prayers should include enlarged expectations, as befitting the power and goodness of the King to whom we come. Combined with this must be submission to his wisdom and will. As the apostle Paul reminds us, he is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” We honor him when we come with great and large requests, but also with contentment in his sovereign will. ‘By faith, we gladly accept what he pleases to give, in the manner he chooses to give it, knowing that he is wise far above us and that he works out all things for our good’ (Rom. 8:28). 


Finally, and this is the special point being made by the writer of Hebrews, we should come to God with confidence. We come knowing that we will be favorably received, knowing that we can speak freely, knowing that this is a throne of grace toward us. Why? Because of the High Priest who has gone ahead, securing access for us by his blood and interceding prayers.


‘We cannot overestimate the importance of such confidence. Many Christians struggle with prayer,’ writes Richard Phillips. He then continues:


“We tremble as with stage fright, as if the light from God’s throne exposed us in naked shame, when in fact it reveals the radiant robes that have been draped around us, the righteousness of Christ given to all who trust in him. This is the key to prayer – to praying often, to praying openly, to praying boldly and freely and with gladness of heart – to know that we come clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, invited by his own saving ministry, purchased by his precious blood, and anticipated by his sympathetic intercession. This is the secret to lively and happy prayer.” (Reformed Expository Commentary, Hebrews, p151)


Yes, it is a throne to which you come, but that throne is a throne of grace. This means that when you come, your sins are covered by the blood of Christ, and that your faults are looked upon with compassion. Moreover, Jesus’ priestly ministry secures the Holy Spirit’s help. Paul writes, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). God’s Spirit helps us to pray.


Furthermore, because it is a throne of grace to which we come, God is ready to grant our requests. He is glad to provide our needs, to give us strength to persevere through trials. He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Therefore, concludes Phillips, ‘let us draw near to God with reverence, with joy, with great expectations, and especially with the confidence that belongs to sons and daughters of the King of heaven and earth’ (p152-3).


Spurgeon concluded his sermon noting the difference God’s grace makes for us in prayer:


“I could not say to you, ‘Pray,’ not even to you saints, unless it were a throne of grace, much less could I talk of prayer to you sinners; but now I will say this to every sinner here, though he should think himself to be the worst sinner that ever lived, cry unto the Lord and seek him while he may be found. A throne of grace is a place fitted for you: go to your knees, by simple faith go to your Savior, for he, he it is who is the throne of grace.”


Will you join me in prayer? See you this coming Lord’s Day. Maybe you can bring someone with you.


For His Glory,


Pastor Wayne

 

Do you struggle with personal prayer? I would like to give you a concise 3-week devotional journey that will show you how to turn your daily worries, frustrations, and dreams into prayers throughout your Christian life. The first person who comes up to me this Sunday and tells me that you would like to grow in your prayer life will receive a free copy of 21 Days to Childlike Prayer: Changing your world one specific prayer at a time by Jed Coppenger. (I think you will find this resource especially helpful.)

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