For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
I love this passage of scripture in the book of Hebrews. It says that we can present our prayers with confidence. What you may ask is what can we be confident of? The answer is simple. When we pray we can be confident that we will receive mercy and find grace to help us. Notice that it did not say that our prayers would always be answered the way we prayed them.. just that mercy and grace would be given.
I think that there is so little in life to be confident about.. people fail us.. our health fails.. and sometimes it feels that God has failed us. But this verse promises that we will receive mercy and grace when we pray - so what does this look like? It is a great question! It reminds me of Job and how different grace might have looked to him.
For some time Job and his friends were sitting around arguing about the calamities that had beset Job.. he lost all of his children.. he lost his health.. people were laughing at him.. and it seemed that grace was nowhere to be found. Then.. and this is an important then.. something happened.. God manifested Himself to Job and let him know that He had been listening in on the conversation with his friends.
God then proceeded to ask Job some very difficult questions.. to which Job confessed that he was ignorant and then proceeded to repent. After this God healed Job as he prayed for his friends. So.. I am wondering.. what did grace look like in this situation and when did mercy come? It reminds me of this passage:
I love how this speaks to what grace is all about.. how it says that because of God's mercy we are not judged.. how God is patient with us.. tolerant of our sins.. and kind to us even when we are unkind and judgmental. Perhaps this is the grace that we can be confident in? Perhaps this is the flavor of grace that will eventually help us.. and lead us to repentanceSo when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? (Romans 2:3-4)
Perhaps.. for Job anyway.. grace came before he was healed and restored to health.. before his riches were replenished. Perhaps grace looked more like God sustaining Job and helping him to endure.. maybe grace came when he first prayed.. maybe Job just didn't understand the purpose of grace?
Very often we are oblivious to the presence of the grace that comes when we pray because we do not understand that a primary reason that grace is given is to help us to endure - we need grace to endure.. and grace comes by way of prayer. I know that in my own life I feel that I am caused to endure because of prayer.. my prayers and the prayers of others.
...originally posted December 2008