Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)
‘Seeking God’, sounds so spiritual and pious — far removed from what my life actually looks like in the real world. I want to seek God much more than I do; to live by the Spirit, walk in obedience to His direction, seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God.
Unfortunately I have become anxious about worldly things and my divided interests have lead me away from a strong devotion to God1. For this I feel ashamed and am reluctant to face up to Jesus in prayer when I have been such a lousy disciple. So as an avoidance tactic which at least had an appearance of being spiritual, I picked up a book about prayer2 by John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress).
Writing while incarcerated in the Bedford goal from 1662, Bunyan addresses this very issue:
Another encouragement for a poor trembling convicted soul is to consider the place, throne, or seat, on which the great God has placed Himself to hear the petitions and prayers of poor creatures; and that is a ‘throne of grace’, ’the mercy-seat. (Hebrews 4:16 & Exodus 25:22) …
… Poor souls! They are very apt to entertain strange thoughts of God, and of His carriage towards them: and suddenly conclude that God will have no regard unto them, when yet He is upon the mercy-seat, and has taken His place on purpose there, to the end He may hear and regard the prayers of poor creatures.2
This is an encouraging reminder of grace. That when it comes to praying to and communing with God, He takes pains to place Himself on a throne of grace so that our prayers may come to him unhindered by the burden of sin we may carry. As I approach God in and through Christ my own very poor track record is gloriously overlaid with the perfect record of Jesus such that I am accepted as God’s own child.
So my attempt to avoid facing my shortcomings as a follower of Christ by reading something written by a great follower of Christ was perhaps not quite so deluded after all!
Now to place myself before that throne of grace.