Receiving Mercy, Grace, and Joy
Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]. (Hebrews 4:16)
Prayer is the means that God has appointed for our receiving mercy and obtaining grace. Hebrews 4:16 is one of the simplest, sweetest verses in the Bible: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” These words make it very clear that God has appointed a way by which we can seek and obtain mercy and grace. That way is prayer- a bold, confident, outspoken approach to the throne of grace, the Most Holy Place of God’s presence. There our sympathizing High Priest, Jesus Christ, has entered in our behalf.(Hebrews 4:14-15)
Mercy is what we need, and grace is what we must have; otherwise, all our lives and efforts will end in complete failure. Prayer is the way to obtain mercy and grace. Infinite grace is at our disposal, and we make it ours by prayer. It is ours for the asking. Oh, if we only realized the fullness of God’s grace- it’s height, depth, length, and breadth- I’m sure we would spend more time in prayer. The measure of our appropriation of grace is determined by the measure of our prayers.
Who does not feel that he needs more grace? Then ask for it. Be constant and persistent in your asking. Be diligent and untiring in your asking. God delights in our persistence in prayer, for it shows our faith in Him, and He is mightily pleased with faith. Because of our perseverance, He will rise and give us as much as we need.(Luke 11:8) What little streams of mercy and grace most of us know when we might know rivers overflowing their banks.
In John 16:24 Jesus has told the disciples that up to that point they had asked nothing in His name.
“Until now you have not asked [the Father] for anything in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete.” (John 16:24)
Jesus speaks this to them just before the cross and after having been with them for three and a half years. We read that the disciples had made a number of requests to Jesus. You will recall, for example, that when they were in the storm and He was asleep in the boat, they had cried out to Him to save them. You will also remember that in another storm Peter asked the Lord to let him come to Him and when he began to sink, he cried out for rescue. You know that Christ sent the seventy out and they did
amazing things through the authority of Christ and yet Jesus is saying to them, “Until now you have not asked for anything.”
Many of us attempt to place God into a human understanding, but the Bible says that His ways are higher than our ways. As humans, we tire of having someone to repeatedly come to us for help. I’m sure that’s because we have limited time and resource. God, on the other hand, never tires of His children coming to Him in prayer and making their requests. Though we may say that we believe that God is unlimited in His power and provision, we often act as though He only has limited resources. James tells us simply that “we have not because we ask not.”
I think that what Jesus is sayin to us is that what God has available for us is so vast and that His desire to bless us is so large, and though we may feel we have asked Him for a lot, He has infinitely more and the only limit is that of our asking and believing.
In John we are told to “ask and keep on asking, so that our joy may be full.” What is it that makes our joy so full? Well, first of all, I think that being in the presence of God gives great joy. In the announcement of the birth of Christ to the shepherds, the angels say, “Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy. Unto you is born this day, Christ the Lord.” The very idea that God is with us in every circumstances ought to put joy in our hearts- Emmanuel, God with us. When we enter the place of prayer, we are entering the intimate place with Christ and Psalm 16:11 says: “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” The beauty of prayer is that it brings us into the presence of God. Hebrews says that with boldness we enter the Holy Place because we have been invited by Christ and through His blood we are qualified to enter. What an amazing gift of grace and mercy that a holy God would make provision for imperfect people like us to come into His presence and find all the grace and mercy we need. No wonder Jesus says that until now we really haven’t asked anything. O beloved child of God, if you only knew how much your Heavenly Father loves you and how He desires to be with you and to bless you and answer your prayers and meet your every need, you would no longer find prayer as a duty but a delight, and you would find joy not only in having your need supplied but your heart would be filled with joy in the presence of God.
You may say that you don’t feel righteous enough, or good enough. Maybe you have failed, missed the mark, sinned. Well come to the throne of grace. Come not because you have qualified yourself through your efforts but because you totally lean on the work of Christ in His redemption of you. There, as you come, solely dependent on the blood of Jesus to wash you and cleanse you of your sins, you will find grace and mercy to help you in the time of need.
Oh how often we listen to the voice of the accuser who whispers, “Don’t bother to come. You are filthy with sin and you won’t be welcomed in such state. Wait until you are living better, acting better, being more Christian.” You know the drill. Like Peter, in our failure, we walk away from the only source of help- the throne of grace.
So today, if you’ve blown it, messed up, failed, sinned, come to the throne of grace. Come because Christ died for you “while we were yet sinners.” Come because of the blood of Jesus that was shed for you and know that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Dare to ask great things, impossible things, difficult things from God. Don’t limit the scope of your requests. God delights when we ask big things for that means we have big faith and big faith pleases God. I wonder how pleased God was when Joshua asked for the sun to stand still or how pleased He was when Isaiah asked for the sundial to reverse itself or when Elijah prayed and it didn’t rain and he prayed again and God sent the rain?
We have been given a great invitation; ask, ask more than you have ever asked before, ask great things, so that your joy may be full. “Come boldly,” Hebrews says, “before the throne of grace, so that we may find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.” Don’t wait, come now, dear child of God. Make your request known to the One who loves you so much that He gave up His Son for you.
Dr. John Thompson