Audacious Prayer

“Finally, let’s draw near to the throne of favor with confidence so that we can receive mercy and find grace when we need help.”

Hebrews 4:16 (Common English Bible)

A simple story, that is repeated often each day throughout the world, is that of a father seated in his home, reading a book, a magazine, or a newspaper. A young son enters the room and climbs-up into his father’s lap. The father, with a warm heart, asks, “Well, what can I do for you?” “Nothing,” replies the son. “I just want to be with you.” Prayer may be many things. Yet, in the final analysis, prayer – true prayer – is not the utterance of words, nor the advance of desires, but the desire to be with God. Prayer is not a formal, religious exercise or a vocal performance before others. It is deeper than that. Prayer is spiritual communion with the creator of heaven and earth. From beginning to end, prayer’s aim is to experience the presence, affirmation, and love of one greater and stronger than us. To know we are safe in their arms.

The Book of Hebrews teaches us that access to God is only possible through Jesus. Prayer will not prevail without the Son of God who made possible the removal of the veil that separated us from the holy throne of God. John Calvin, an early leader of the Christian faith, asserts that prayer is fundamentally acknowledging the continuing intercession of Jesus Christ.[i] Jesus must go with us as we draw near the “throne of favor”, the seat of almighty God. Without Jesus we remain shut out from the living God. As Jesus taught us in The Lord’s Prayer, prayer must always begin with the acknowledgement that we come to a holy, sacred place, “uphold the holiness of your name” (Matthew 6:9) We must not forget this. Therefore, when we pray, we come not only before a heavenly Father, but we also come into a royal place of power.

If we come to a throne, our posture must be that of deep reverence. Continuing today is the demonstration of respect and reverence as world leaders come before a king or queen – reverence demonstrated by a simple bow. It may be a bow of the head or a bow from the waist. Yet, what is expected is that any approach before royalty is accompanied by homage and honor. In the instance of prayer, the royal one we approach is the highest of all royalty, the King of Kings, says the prophet, Isaiah. Thomas Long, a wise interpreter of scripture, writes that sometimes contemporary Christians, schooled on a tame and domesticated picture of God, forget the sheer audaciousness of human beings daring to approach the holy, and thus we engage in prayer with all the casual nonchalance of ordering at a fast-food restaurant.[ii]

Though we come before “the throne of favor” with humility and reverence, we do come before a throne. Small change found in the sofa and left-over crumbs are not dispensed in a place of royalty. More, we are present before God at God’s invitation; we a called God’s children. That knowledge removes any hesitancy to ask God for anything. That knowledge also removes any expectation that all we can hope for are small favors – small coins or breadcrumbs. God’s invitation suggests that we are to appear with enlarged expectations! Yet, beware of imagining that God’s thoughts are our thoughts or that God’s ways are our ways. Ask for great things because you stand before a great God. But always pray as Jesus prayed, “let it be what you want.” (Matthew 26:42)


[i] Karl Barth, Prayer: 50th Anniversary Edition (Louisville and London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002) xiii.

[ii] Thomas G. Long: Hebrews: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997) 64.

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