Encouragements to Prayer #1

Yesterday, as I preached on Hebrews 4:12-16, we touched at some length on prayer:

  • the possibility of prayer – through Jesus our great high priest, vv15-16,
  • the privilege of prayer – freedom of speech with a gracious God, v16.

Given this great possibility and privilege, I questioned our relative prayerlessness, individually and especially corporately.

In doing so, each day this week I promised to share some book extracts to help us address this, mainly from Graeme Goldsworthy’s excellent book, Prayer and the Knowledge of God.

I hope this will be encouraging and challenging to the church I serve, and I thought it might be helpful to share these quotes more widely.

The first is an application of justification by faith to our praying. Goldsworthy writes…

In Christ we are God’s children and our prayer is heard

Paul tells us that the Spirit of Jesus is the praying Spirit:

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.        (Gal. 4:6-7)

This means that our prayer, through Jesus, enjoys the same acceptance as his prayer, because we are heirs with him.  When we trust Jesus to be on our behalf everything God requires from us, we can pray with confidence.  It is crucial that we understand what our justification in Christ means, particularly for our failures.  Jesus justifies our humanness by being for us, on our account, the true human Son of God.  The only reason he left his glory in heaven and took upon himself human flesh and the role of a servant, was to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.  There is no aspect of our humanity that he has not dealt with.  Whenever and however we fail, we have an advocate to take our place and plead our cause.  He does this on the basis of his own righteousness, not on the basis of our fervour or piety.  I do not want to labour this point, but it is worth noting that Jesus has justified our prayer.  In other words, as with every other aspect of our humanness in which we fall short of the glory of God, he provides for us the basis of full acceptance.  In Christ we cannot be condemned as inadequate of ‘failed’ pray-ers.  I should not think, because I don’t pray as I ought, that God is less inclined to listen to me than he is to listen to some great prayer warrior.

As with every other aspect of our lives, our aim should be to strive to become in ourselves more like what we are in Christ.  What we are in Christ is perfect, and this perfection will never be achieved in ourselves until we are raised in the resurrection at his coming again.  It is nevertheless the goal towards which we strive.

Source: Prayer and the Knowledge of God (IVP), pages 50-51.

Available in Australia from Reformers Bookshop, and internationally from Amazon.

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