When we come before God in prayer, it ought to be with a deep sense of honor and privilege. It is easy to take this for granted and for our prayers to become rote and routine. But we come before the King of kings, into His very throne room, with the promise that He will surely hear the prayers that are brought in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is a tremendous honor that He has given us. In ancient times, the common people would very rarely, if ever, have any chance to go before the king or the emperor with their petitions; the bigger and more important the king was, the less likely it was that you would ever have a chance to gain an audience. Even today, people pay tremendous amounts of money in campaign donations in order to gain access to congressmen or presidents. The rest of us can send a letter or an email, but it will be read by staff and only rarely passed up to the officeholder himself.
But we can come before the grandest king of them all, at any time, and make our concerns known. Further, we can do so with the guarantee that we come in the name and the right of Jesus Christ, the beloved of the Father. John Calvin says, “We can be sure that we have the heart of the Father when we lay before Him the name of His Son.” Jesus told us that if we ask, we will receive, and that if His words abide in us, we can ask the Father whatever we will, and it will be done for us.
What a tragedy then that we despise this wonderful gift; that we would be so excited to have the opportunity to have lunch with a respected politician, artist, or businessman, but treat our prayers to God as perfunctory obligations! We can go boldly before the throne of grace, to ask for help in time of need, and to fellowship with the One who made us.
We do not seek to lay legalistic obligations on people, to say that every good Christian must spend such and such time in prayer every day. If our hearts are filled with the true wonder and joy that it is to go before God in prayer, no such strictures are necessary. Prayer will flow from the Christian’s heart throughout the day, and he will come to regard those times of formal prayer, whether by the church, in the family or by oneself as times of sweet refreshment and joy rather than simply duty. The flesh is weak, and we are thankful for a merciful God. We are also blessed to know that even when we inevitably do not pray as we should, or do not know what to say, yet the Son of God intercedes for us with His Father and the Spirit of God fills up what is lacking, so that even in our weakness we need never be concerned that God will not be blessing His people. One of the blessings that we can expect from the continuing mediation of Christ and of the Spirit of God is that we will learn the true joy and refreshment of fellowshipping with our Heavenly Father, without ceasing, in prayer.