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?

Becoming Holy on Purpose: A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life

Cover of "A Serious Call to a Devout and ...A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law

“He is the devout man who considers and serves God in everything and who makes all of his life an act of devotion by doing everything in the name of God and under such rules as are conformable to His glory.”
(Note: I read the 1955 abridged edition, which was edited by a group of laymen to make it more accessible to the 20th century reader.)

William Law’s book, published in England in 1728, was written in a time and society in which just about everyone professed to be a Christian and attended church. This may seem like a good thing, but during this time, the Christian Church in England (and America) was in a state of spiritual decline. Law observed that there were many nominal Christians who appeared to value the teachings of the Bible and attended church on Sundays but were not serious about living out Christ’s teachings in their every day life. This book is not intended to tell the reader how to become a Christian, but rather, how to be a “good” Christian. Law is basically challenging those who profess the name of Christ to take it seriously and to live out what they claim to be. A Serious Call may feel a bit moralistic or legalistic at times, but it needs to be kept in mind that the author is not implying that by living a good life a person can earn his salvation or even earn more favor with God. It is a reminder that if I am truly a Christian, I am “dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ” and should “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called” (Rom. 6:4; Eph 4:1). Continue reading “Becoming Holy on Purpose: A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”