BY C.H. SPURGEON
The throne of grace (Hebrews 4 16).
THESE WORDS are found embedded in that gracious verse, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” and are a gem in a golden setting. True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God. It is not the utterance of words, nor is it alone the feeling of desires, but it is the advance of the desires to God, the spiritual approach of our nature towards the Lord our God. True prayer is not a mere mental exercise, nor a vocal performance, but it is deeper far than that- it is spiritual communion with the Creator of heaven and earth. God is a Spirit unseen of mortal eye and only to be perceived by the inner man; our spirit within us, begotten by the Holy Ghost at our regeneration. Prayer is a spiritual business from beginning to end, and its aim and object end not with man, but reach to God Himself.
For such prayer the work of the Holy Ghost Himself is needed. If prayer were of the lips alone, we should only need breath in our nostrils to pray. If prayer were of the desires alone, many excellent desires are
easily felt, even by natural men. But when it is the spiritual desire, and the spiritual fellowship of the human spirit with the Great Spirit, then the Holy Ghost Himself must be present all through it to help
infirmity and give life and power, or else true prayer will never be presented. The thing offered to God will wear the name and have the form, but the inner life of prayer will be far from it.
Moreover, it is clear from the connection of our text that the interposition of the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to acceptable prayer. As prayer will not be truly prayer without the Spirit of God, so it will not be prevailing prayer without the Son of God. He, the Great High Priest, must go within the veil for us; through His crucified person the veil must be entirely taken away. Until then, we are shut out from the living God. The man who, despite the teaching of Scripture, tries to pray without a Savior insults the Deity, and he who
imagines that his own natural desires, coming up before God unsprinkled with the precious blood, will be an acceptable sacrifice before God, makes a mistake. He has not brought an offering that God can accept.
Approaching the Divine King
Our text speaks of throne-“The Throne of Grace.” God is to be viewed in prayer as our Father; that is the aspect which is dearest to us. But still we are not to regard Him as though He were such as we are; for
our Savior has qualified the expression “Our Father” with the words “who art in heaven.” And close at the heels of that condescending name, in order to remind us that our Father is still infinitely greater than
we, He has bidden us say, “Hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come,” so that our Father is still to be regarded as a King. Therefore, in prayer we come, not only to our Father’s feet, but we come also to the throne of the Great Monarch of the universe. The mercyseat is a throne, and we must not forget this.
The Need for Humble Worship
If prayer should always be regarded by us as an entrance into the courts of the royalty of heaven and if we are to behave ourselves as courtiers should act in the presence of an illustrious majesty, then we
are not at a loss to know the right spirit in which to pray. If in prayer we come to a throne, it is clear that our spirit should, in the first place, be one of lowly reverence. It is expected that the subject in approaching to the king should pay him homage and honor. In our case, the king before whom we come is the highest of all monarchs, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. Emperors are but the shadows of His imperial power. They call themselves kings by right divine, but what divine right have they? Common sense laughs their pretensions to scorn. The Lord alone hath divine right, and to Him only does the kingdom belong. He is the blessed and only potentate.
Besides, He is the most holy of all kings. His throne is a great white throne, unspotted and clear as crystal. “The heavens are not pure in his sight, and he charged his angels with folly” (Job 4:18). And you, a sinful creature, with what lowliness should you draw near to Him? Familiarity there may be, but let it not be unhallowed. Boldness there should be, but let it not be impertinent. Still you are on earth and He in heaven; still you are a worm of the dust, a creature crushed before the moth, and He the Everlasting. Before the mountains were brought forth He was God, and if all created things should pass away again, yet
still were He the same. I am afraid we do not bow as we should before the Eternal Majesty; but, henceforth, let us ask the Spirit of God to put us in a right frame of mind so that every one of our prayers may be
a reverential approach to the Infinite Majesty above.
The Need for Joyful Prayer
His throne, therefore, in the second place, is to be approached with devout joyfulness. If I find myself favored by divine grace to stand among those favored ones who frequent His courts, shall I not feel glad? I might have been in His prison, but I am before His throne; I might have been driven from His presence for ever, but I am permitted to come near to Him, even into His royal palace, into His secret chamber of gracious audience; shall I not then be thankful? Shall not my thankfulness ascend into joy, and shall I not feel that I am honored and that I am made the recipient of great favors when I am permitted to pray?
Why is your countenance sad, O suppliant, when you stand before the throne of grace? Christian, since you are now favored to come before the King in His silken robes of love, let your face shine with sacred delight. If your sorrows are heavy, tell them unto Him, for He can assuage them; if your sins are multiplied, confess them, for He can forgive them. O courtiers in the halls of such a Monarch, be exceedingly glad and mingle praises with your prayers.
The Need for Prayerful Submission
It is a throne, and therefore, in the third place, whenever it is approached, it should be with complete submission. We do not pray to God to instruct Him as to what He ought to do; neither for a moment
must we presume to dictate the line of the divine procedure. We are permitted to say to God, “Thus and thus would we have it,” but we must always add, “but, seeing that we are ignorant and may be mistaken-
seeing that we are still in the flesh, and, therefore, may be actuated by carnal motives-not as we will but as Thou wilt.” Who shall dictate to the throne? No loyal child of God will for a moment imagine that he is to occupy the place of the King, but he bows before Him who has a right to be Lord of all.
Therefore, though he utters his desire earnestly, vehemently, and very urgently, and pleads and pleads again, yet it is always with this needful reservation: “Thy will be done, my Lord, and, if I ask anything
that is not in accordance with Thy will, my inmost will is that Thou wouldst be good enough to deny thy servant; I will take it as a true answer if Thou refuse me, if I ask that which seemeth not good in Thy
sight.” Therefore will I speak with the deepest submission to Thy divine decrees.”
The Need for Enlarged Expectations
But, in the fourth place, if it be a throne, it ought to be approached with enlarged expectations. Well does our hymn put it:
Thou art coming to a king, large petitions with thee bring.
We do not come, as it were, in prayer only to God’s benevolence fund where He dispenses His favors to the poor, nor do we come to the back door of the house of mercy to receive the broken scraps, though that is
more than we deserve; to eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table is more than we could claim. But when we pray, we are standing in the palace, on the glittering floor of the great King’s own reception room, and thus we are placed upon a vantage ground. In prayer we stand where angels bow with veiled faces; there, even there, the cherubim and seraphim adore, before that same throne to which our prayers ascend.
And shall we come there with stunted requests and narrow and contracted faith? No, it does not become a king to be giving away pennies and nickels; he distributes large pieces of gold.
Beware of imagining that God’s thoughts are as your thoughts and that His ways as your ways. Do not bring before God stinted petitions and narrow desires by saying, “Lord, do according to these,” but, remember, as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are His ways above your ways and His thoughts above your thoughts. Ask, therefore, in a God-like way for great things, for you are before a great throne. Oh, that we always felt this way when we came before the throne of grace, for then He would do for us exceeding abundantly above what we ask or even think.
The Need for Full Confidence
And, beloved, I may add, in the fifth place, that the right spirit in which to approach the throne of grace is that of unstaggering confidence. Who shall doubt the King? Who dares impugn the Imperial word? It was well said that if integrity were banished from the hearts of all mankind besides, it ought still to dwell in the hearts of kings. Shame on a king if he can lie. The lowliest beggar in the streets is dishonored by a broken promise, but what shall we say of a king if his word cannot be depended upon? Oh, shame upon us if we are unbelieving before the throne of the King of heaven and earth. With our God before us in all His glory sitting on the throne of grace, will our hearts dare to say we mistrust Him? Such blasphemous thoughts should be banished, and if they must come, let them come upon us when we are somewhere in the outskirts of His dominions, if such a place there be, but not in prayer when we are in His immediate presence and behold Him in all the glory of His throne of grace. There, surely is the place for the child to trust its Father, for the loyal subject to trust his monarch; therefore, far from it should be all wavering or suspicion.
Unstaggering faith should be predominant before the mercyseat.
The Need for Genuiness in Prayer
We offer only one other remark upon this point, that if prayer is a coming before the throne of God, it ought always to be conducted with deepest sincerity, and in the spirit which makes everything real. If
you are disloyal enough to despise the King, at least, for your own sake, do not mock Him to His face and when He is upon His throne. If anywhere you dare repeat holy words without heart, let it not be in
Jehovah’s palace. If a person should ask for audience with royalty and then should say, “I hardly know why I have come, I do not know that I have anything very particular to ask; I have no very urgent request,”
would he not be guilty both of folly and baseness?
As for our great King, when we venture into His presence, let us have an errand there. Let us beware of playing at praying. It is insolence towards God. If I am called upon to pray in public, I must not dare to
use words that are intended to please the ears of my fellow-worshippers, but I must realize that I am speaking to God Himself and that I have business to transact with the great Lord. And in my private
prayer, if when I rise from my bed in the morning, I bow my knee and repeat certain words, or when I retire to rest at night and go through the same regular form, I rather sin than do anything that is good
unless my very soul speaks unto the Most High.
Do you think that the King of heaven is delighted to hear you pronounce words with a frivolous tongue and a thoughtless mind? You do not know Him. He is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in
spirit and in truth. From all the spirits that behold the face of our Father who is in heaven, even now, I hear a voice which says, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6-7). “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:9).
Prayer in the Presence of God’s Grace
So that the glow and brilliance of the word throne should not be too much for mortal vision, our text now presents us with the soft, gentle radiance of that delightful word-grace. We are called to the throne of
grace, not to the throne of law. Rocky Sinai once was the throne of law when God came to Paran with ten thousand of His holy ones. Who desired to draw near to that throne? Even Israel might not. Bounds were set about the mount, and if but a beast touched the mount, it was stoned or thrust through with a sword. O you self-righteous ones who hope that you can obey the law and think that you can be saved by it, look to the flames that Moses saw and shrink and tremble and despair. To that throne we do not come now, for through Jesus the case is changed.
And, blessed be God, we are not now speaking of the throne of ultimate justice. Before that we shall come, and as many of us as have believed will find it to be a throne of grace as well as of justice; for He who sits upon that throne shall pronounce no sentence of condemnation against the man who is justified by faith.
But I do not have to call you now to the place from which the resurrection-trumpet shall ring out so shrill and clear. We are still on praying ground and pleading terms with God, and the throne to which we are bidden to come, and of which we speak at this time, is the throne of grace. It is a throne set up on purpose for the dispensation of grace, a throne from which every utterance is an utterance of grace; the scepter that is stretched out from it is the silver scepter of grace; the decrees proclaimed from it are purposes grace; the gifts that are scattered down its golden steps are gifts of grace; and He that sits upon the throne is grace itself. It is the throne of grace to which we approach when we pray, and let us for a moment or two think
this over, by way of consolatory encouragement to those who are beginning to pray; indeed, this truth comes to all of us who are praying men and women.
Grace for Imperfect Prayers
If in prayer I come before a throne of grace, then the faults of my prayer will be overlooked. In beginning to pray, dear friends, you feel as if you did not pray. The groanings of your spirit when you rise from your knees are such that you think there is nothing in them. What a blotted, blurred, smeared prayer is it. Never mind; you have not come to the throne of justice. Otherwise, when God perceived the fault in the prayer He would spurn it your broken words, your gaspings, and your stammerings are before a throne of grace.
Our condescending King does not maintain a stately etiquette in his court like that which has been observed by princes among men, where a little mistake or a flaw would secure the petitioner’s being dismissed with disgrace. Oh, no, the faulty cries of His children are not severely criticized by Him. The Lord High Chamberlain of the palace above, our Lord Jesus Christ, takes care to alter and amend every
prayer before He presents it, and He makes the prayer perfect with His perfection and prevalent with His own merits. God looks upon the prayer as presented through Christ and forgives all its own inherent
How this ought to encourage any of us who feel ourselves to be feeble, wandering, and unskillful in prayer. If you cannot plead with God as sometimes you did in years gone by, if you feel as if somehow or other
you had grown rusty in the work of supplication, never give up, but come still, yes and come oftener, for it is not a throne of severe criticism, but to a throne of grace you come.
Grace for Praying Sinners
Then, further, inasmuch as it is a throne of grace, the faults of the petitioner himself shall not prevent the success of his prayer. Oh, what faults there are in us! To come before a throne how unfit we are-we that are all defiled with sin within and without! Do any of you dare think of praying if it were not that God’s throne is a throne of grace? If you could, I confess I could not. An absolute God, infinitely holy and just, could not in consistency with His divine nature answer any prayer from such a sinner as I am if it were not that He has arranged a plan by which my prayer comes up no longer to a throne of absolute justice, but to a throne which is also the mercyseat, the propitiation, the place where God meets sinners through Jesus Christ. Ah, I could not say to you, “Pray,” not even to you saints, unless it were a throne of grace, much less could I talk of prayer to you sinners.
But now I will say this to every sinner here, though he should think himself to be the worst sinner that ever lived, cry unto the Lord and seek Him while He may be found. A throne of grace is a place fitted for you to go to your knees and by simple faith go to your Savior, for He it is who is the throne of grace. It is in Him that God is able to dispense grace unto the most guilty of mankind. Blessed be God, neither the faults of the prayer nor yet of the suppliant shall shut out our petitions from God who delights in broken and contrite hearts.
God’s Gracious Help in Prayer
If it is a throne of grace, then the desires of the pleader will be interpreted. If I cannot find words in which to utter my desires, God in His grace will read my desires without the words. He takes the meaning of His saints, the meaning of their groans. A throne that was not gracious would not trouble itself to make out our petitions, but God, the infinitely gracious one, will dive into the soul of our desires and will read there what we cannot speak with the tongue. Have you never seen a parent when his child is trying to say something to
him, and he knows very well what it is the little one has got to say, help him over the words and utter the syllables for him? If the little one has half-forgotten what he would say, you have heard the father suggest the word.
Similarly, the ever-blessed Spirit, from the throne of grace, will help us and teach us words and even write in our hearts the desires themselves. The Spirit will direct your desires to the things for which you ought to seek; He will teach you your wants, though as yet you know them not; He will suggest to you His promises that you may be able to plead them; He will, in fact, be Alpha and Omega to your prayer, just as He is to your salvation.
For as salvation is from first to last of grace, so the sinner’s approach to the throne of grace is of grace from first to last. What comfort this is. Will we not, my dear friends, with the greater boldness draw near to this throne, as we learn the sweet meaning of His precious words, “the throne of grace”?
God’s Provision by Grace
If it be a throne of grace, then all the needs of those who come to it will be supplied. The King from such a throne will not say, “Thou must bring to me gifts, thou must offer to me sacrifices.” It is not a throne for receiving tribute; it is a throne for dispensing gifts. Come, then, you who are poor as poverty itself; come you that have no merits and are destitute of virtues; come you that are reduced to a beggarly bankruptcy by Adam’s fall and by your own transgressions. This is not the throne of majesty which supports itself by the taxation of its subjects, but a throne which glorifies itself by streaming forth like a fountain with floods of good things. Come now, and receive the wine and milk which are freely given; yes, come buy wine and milk
without money and without price. All the petitioner’s needs will be supplied because it is a throne of grace.
God’s Compassion for Those Who Pray
And as a result, God will show compassion for all the petitioner’s miseries. Suppose I come to the throne of grace with the burden of my sins; there is one on the throne who felt the burden of sin in ages long gone by and has not forgotten its weight. Suppose I come loaded with sorrow; there is one who knows all the sorrows to which humanity can be subjected. Am I depressed and distressed? Do I fear that God himself has forsaken me? There is one upon the throne who said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is a throne from which grace delights to look upon the miseries of mankind with tender eye to consider them and to relieve them.
“The throne of grace.” The phrase grows as I turn it over in my mind, and to me it is a most delightful reflection that if I come to the throne of God in prayer, I may feel a thousand defects, but yet there
is hope. I usually feel more dissatisfied with my prayers than with anything else I do. I do not believe that it is an easy thing to pray in public so as to conduct the devotions of a large congregation aright. We sometimes hear persons commended for preaching well, but if any shall be enabled to pray well, there will be an equal gift and a higher grace in it. But suppose in our prayers there should be defects of knowledge; it is a throne of grace, and our Father knows defects of faith; He sees our little faith and still does not reject it, small as it is. He does not in every case measure out His gifts by the degree of our faith, but by the sincerity and trueness of faith.
And if there should be grave defects in our spirit and failures in the fervency or in the humility of the prayer, though these should not be there and are much to be deplored, grace overlooks and forgives all
this, and still its merciful hand is stretched out to enrich us according to our needs. Surely this ought to induce many to pray who have not prayed and should make us who have been long accustomed to use
the consecrated art of prayer to draw near with greater boldness than ever to the throne.
God’s Grace on the Throne
But, now regarding our text as a whole, it conveys to us the idea of grace enthroned. It is a throne, and who sits on it? It is grace personified that is here installed in dignity. And, truly, today grace is on a throne. In the gospel of Jesus Christ grace is the most predominant attribute of God. How comes it to be so exalted? We reply that grace has a throne by conquest. Grace came down to earth in the form of the Well-beloved, and it met with sin. Long and sharp was the struggle, and grace appeared to be trampled under foot of sin. But grace at last seized sin, threw it on its own shoulders; and, though all but crushed beneath the burden, grace carried sin up to the cross and nailed it there, slew it there, put it to death for ever, and triumphed gloriously.
Grace, moreover, sits on the throne because it has established itself by right. There is no injustice in the grace of God. God is as just when He forgives a believer as when He casts a sinner into hell. I believe in my own soul that there is as much and as pure a justice in the acceptance of a soul that believes in Christ as there will be in the rejection of those souls who die impenitent and are banished from Jehovah’s presence. The sacrifice of Christ has enabled God to be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth. He who knows the word substitution and can understand its meaning aright will see that there is nothing due to punitive justice from any believer since Jesus Christ has paid all the believer’s debts.
Grace is enthroned this day because Christ has finished His work and gone into the heavens. It is enthroned in power.
Sinner, saint, oh, when grace sits on the throne, I beseech you close in with it at once. It can be no higher, it can be no greater, for it is written “God is love,” which is an alias for grace. Oh, come and bow before it; come and adore the infinite mercy and grace of God.
I say, then, that grace is enthroned by conquest, by right, and by power, and, I will add, it is enthroned in glory, for God glorifies His grace. It is one of His objects now to make His grace illustrious. He delights to pardon penitents and so to show His pardoning grace; He delights to look upon wanderers and restore them, to show His reclaiming grace; He delights to look upon the broken-hearted and comfort them so that He may show His consoling grace. Believe this, you can come at once and glorify grace by becoming instances of its power.
God’s Gracious Covenant and Our Prayers
On the throne of grace, sovereignty has placed itself under bonds of love. God will do as He wills; but on the mercyseat He is under bonds-bonds of His own making-for He has entered into covenant with Christ,
and thus into covenant with His chosen. Though God is and ever must be a sovereign, He never will break His covenant nor alter the word that is gone out of His mouth. He cannot be false to a covenant of His own
Moreover, on the throne of grace, God is again bound to us by His promises. The covenant contains in it many gracious promises, exceedingly great and precious. “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). Until God had said that word or a word to that effect, it was at His own option to hear prayer or not, but it is not so now; for now, if it is true prayer offered through Jesus Christ, His truth binds Him to hear it.
And it is the sweetest thought of all that every covenant promise has been endorsed and sealed with blood, and far be it from the everlasting God to pour scorn upon the blood of His dear Son. When a king has given
a charter to a city, he may have previously been absolute, and there may have been nothing to check his prerogatives, but when the city has its charter, then it pleads its rights before the king.
It is not possible that we can plead in vain with God when we plead the blood-sealed covenant, ordered in all things and sure. Heaven and earth shall pass away but the power of the blood of Jesus with God can never fail. It speaks when we are silent, and it prevails when we are defeated. Christian, let us come boldly, for we bear the promise in our hearts. May God the Holy Spirit help us to use aright from this time
forward “the throne of grace.”
The Throne of Grace
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) is undoubtedly the most famous minister of modern times. Converted in 1850, he united with the Baptists and very soon began to preach in various places. He became
pastor of the Baptist church in Waterbeach in 1851, and three years later he was called to the decaying Park Street Church, London. Within a short time, the work began to prosper, a new church was built and
dedicated in 1861, and Spurgeon became London’s most popular preacher. In 1855, he began to publish his sermons weekly, and today they make up the forty-nine volumes of The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. He founded a pastors’ college and several orphanages. This sermon is taken from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM CLASSIC SERMONS ON PRAYER, PAGES 26-39. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.