Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace: Prayer

Prayer by John Bunyan

Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

This one little volume actually contains two works by John Bunyan on prayer. The first exposition on the subject, originally entitled A Discourse Touching Prayer, looks at what true prayer is, who should pray, what kinds of prayers are acceptable to God, and what we should pray for. He begins with making this statement about prayer:

Prayer is an ordinance of God to be used both in public and private; yea, such an ordinance as brings those that have the spirit of supplication into great familiarity with God.

Followed by this definition of prayer:

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.

He then proceeds to expound on the points mentioned in this definition, and explains what it means to pray with or in the Spirit. Following this, he addresses what may serve as obstructions to prayer. Bunyan writes,

As prayer is the duty of every one of the children of God, and carried on by the spirit of Christ in the soul, so everyone that takes it upon him to pray to the Lord, had need to be very wary and go about that work especially with a dread of God, as well as with hopes of the mercy of God through Jesus Christ.

Prayer is indeed serious business, and it is a hard business. We cannot do it in our own strength; it requires the work of the Holy Spirit within us. As Bunyan explains,

Prayer is an ordinance of God, that must continue with a soul so long as it is on this side of Glory. But, as I said before, it is not possible for a man to get up his heart to God in prayer; likewise it is as difficult to keep it there, without the assistance of the Spirit. And if so, then for a man to continue from time to time in prayer with God, it must of necessity be with the Spirit.

Bunyan’s second discourse, originally published by the title The Saints’ Privilege and Profit, focuses on the idea of coming to the throne of grace – what does this mean and how are we to approach it? Bunyan demonstrates how it is that we are able to pray because Jesus Christ was himself the sacrifice, the altar, and the high priest who has provided the way for us to come. He also talks about the proper attitude and motives for prayer.

We have boldness, brethren, to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus. What can be more plain, more encouraging, more comfortable to them that would obtain mercy, ‘and find grace to help in time of need’! It is a dishonor to God, a disadvantage to you, and an encouragement to Satan, when you hang back and seem afraid to “come boldly to the throne of grace.

This book provides many blessed reminders of the wonderful privilege that prayer is and how detrimental and sinful it is when we neglect it.

Related Sites and Articles

What other books about prayer have you found to be helpful and encouraging?

The Life of the Pilgrim behind Pilgrim’s Progress

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

Grace AboundingOr a brief relation of the exceeding mercy of God in Christ to him, to His poor servant, John Bunyan

John Bunyan was a non-conformist English pastor who lived from 1628-1688. During his years of ministry, he spent sapproximately 14 years in prison for preaching without a legal license as required by England at the time. Bunyan’s best known work is certainly The Pilgrim’s Progress, a book that I feel every Christian should read. Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners is Bunyan’s autobiographical account, which he wrote in 1666 while in prison primarily for the benefit of the people under his ministry.

Here is a synopsis of Bunyan’s journey to faith, repentance and godliness, as he describes it: Continue reading “The Life of the Pilgrim behind Pilgrim’s Progress”

The Christian Life in Allegory Form: Pilgrim’s Progress

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

“Look in front of you. Do you see the Narrow Road? That is the way you must go…There are many paths adjacent to this one, and they are crooked and wide; but you can distinguish the right one from the wrong one because only the right one is straight and narrow.”


Pilgrim’s Progress
definitely qualifies as a book that every person who calls himself a Christian should read. The preacher Charles Spurgeon is reported to have read Pilgrim’s Progress 100 times! Spurgeon said he suspected that if John Bunyan were to be poked, he would bleed scripture. The story is a wonderful allegory which richly illustrates deep biblical truths, and Bunyan’s knowledge and understanding of the Bible is evident as he weaves so many ideas and terms from the Bible throughout his story.

A little background Continue reading “The Christian Life in Allegory Form: Pilgrim’s Progress”