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Dance of Grace and Power of Prayer

An Invitation

“So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There, we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”   Hebrews 4:16

The word “pray” does not specifically show up in this passage of scripture, nonetheless, this is what this verse is talking about. This is an invitation issued by God to encourage us to come boldly into his presence with our requests. Not only that, it promises an answer.

So, let us come…

The word “so” encourages us because of the truth that precedes it in verse 15.

“This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses…”

We are reminded that Jesus understands our weakness and therefore, our reluctance.

So…because Jesus has overcome the power of our sin-weakened nature that keeps us separated from God, we do not need to be timid (afraid) about approaching God.

So…we can come before God with confidence – not in ourselves – but in Jesus.

Have you ever been allowed into a high security area? You didn’t get into that area simply on your own. You had to follow a guide or someone else with authority to take you into that place.

That is who Jesus is. He has access to the throne room of God – and he swings open the door to us. Therefore we enter…

BOLDLY to the throne…

Boldly – with CONFIDENCE! What is stopping you? The bible says that NOTHING can separate us from God’s love extended to us in Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39)

Imagine yourself walking up to the doors of God’s throne room and before you have even reached the doors, they swing wide open. One day we will see this throne room with our own eyes and we will be AMAZED that we had access to this room while on earth. I know, it is hard to fathom this now, but try!

Try to imagine the amazing creatures as described in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation. Try to imagine the golden bowls of incense which are the prayers of the saints. Your prayer rising to God to be burned in this bowl, the fragrance of those prayers rising to God. Think of each prayer of yours as a SCENT – your prayers perfuming God’s throne room. This is the perspective that I need on prayer.

…of our GRACIOUS God.

Gracious: kind, compassionate, forgiving, merciful, pleasant, tender-hearted, sympathetic…

Yes, God is holy, sovereign, righteous judge, awesome in power and might – everything that we might be overwhelmed by. But when he turns his face toward those who love him in Jesus, he exposes his tender, grace filled heart of love. Don’t these words encourage you?

It isn’t about who I am. It is completely about who He is. I keep this in mind so that I can be confident that…

There, we WILL RECEIVE

Not “might receive” but “WILL receive

You need to let this one impact you. I understand. I have been guilty of praying, all the while believing, that God will respond to some of my prayers, so I work hard at trying to say just the right things that will “influence” God’s decision. In this I show that I haven’t fully embraced the “all-ness” and “generosity” of God yet. Instead, if we could focus on this one truth that we will receive a response to our prayers, we might not need so many “how to pray” books.

The secret of our confidence before God lies in receiving this single most important thing…

…his MERCY,

Mercy is the most tangible expression of Love emanating from God. Mercy means that although I deserve judgement, I receive compassionate forgiveness instead. Clearly, mercy is closely tied to forgiveness. Mercy is always extended toward those who claim it through the cross!

The cross is where the wrath of God against sin was nailed. Jesus took God’s righteous judgement against sin completely upon himself, and while bearing the unimaginably full weight of it, turned to God and asked for forgiveness on my behalf.

This immediately brings to mind the story told by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 18:21-35. Here the king forgives a servant in his kingdom an enormous debt – more than he could possible pay off. This same servant then imprisons someone else who owes him a comparatively minuscule amount. The king is understandably incensed when he hears of this. As a result, he casts the servant under the same judgement that he showed his brother.

In Micah 6:8, one of three requirements of man before God is to “love mercy.” Why? Because God is merciful…slow to anger and abounding in faithfulness and love – the characteristics that we are meant to reflect. Therefore, if we are to love mercy, receive mercy, and act in mercy; we must find it in the PRESENCE of God.

…and…

Although we already have enough, our generous God has more for us. Perhaps because he understands our weakness, he extends himself even further toward us to draw us into his love and empower us to live in his kingdom. He lets us know that in his presence…

…we will find GRACE…

It is impossible here to describe the richness of God’s grace. God’s grace flows out of his generous nature. He pours out blessings and benefits and favor and help – in abundance – completely undeserved.

Like you, I do not really grasp this. I would like to say that I do, but there seems to be a disconnect between the way that I live in the presence of God, and what he offers to me.

Really, we are the ones who are miserly with ourselves and with others and that is because we still live too much out of our natural selves. We haven’t fully tapped into the free flow of all that God has for us through the indwelling presence of His Spirit. We are too easily distracted from the goodness of God by the busy, rushing, flesh pleasing demands of the world and our own desire to control our lives – as if we can possible do a better job at this than God. As if the failure of man in the Garden of Eden was just yesterday.

This is our loss!

…to help us when we need it most.

Nonetheless…grace pours out from God’s presence like a waterfall. I see it, but how to get wet is still a mystery most days. Could it be because I don’t really have need of it? Is it because it is mostly to be discovered when we come to the end of ourselves and then we find grace?

My own limited attempt to define the fullness of grace into something that I can begin to understand and remember, comes out something like this:

God’s unmerited favor in which he richly imbues me with His glory and empowers me to do what is right. 

On my own I cannot really do what is right. I do not love or serve or obey well enough. And this is where the rule-following religion that I was raised on fails – because unless I live and move and have my being in Jesus, I am not moving in the flowing rhythms of grace. My movements are stilted and awkward, full of striving and little rest.

The invitation that God extends me instead, is intended to release me to dance freely in the rhythms of grace and to release the perfume of prayer.

In Light of This

Do you?

Do you dance the dance of grace?

Do you pray scented prayers?

“I pray that from God’s glorious unlimited resources, he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then, Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And, may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, how deep, his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then, you will be made complete, with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”   Ephesians 3:16-19

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