Let’s face it. We all have needs. We all have struggles. We all face trials and temptations that seem too great for us to handle. Not a day goes by that we don’t realize that we are weak and we cannot do everything on our own.
For those of us who are followers of Jesus, however, we have something that others do not. It’s something amazing, and yet it seems that it is something often neglected. At least, I know that I neglect it more often than I should.
The advantage that we have over those who do not know Christ is the ability to pray to and be heard by the God of the universe every time we pray. We have a loving Father who delights in us and longs to hear from us and help us. Now, while those who do not know Christ may pray to God, He is under no obligation to answer the prayers of those who are not in Christ. That is not to say that He never does; but the relationship is not there. One verse says that “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29, ESV) Again, when sinners call out to God in repentance, He absolutely hears them. He can even choose to respond to other requests. But the focus here is on the constant access to God, which is a privilege specific to believers.
And what a privilege it is! Because of the sacrifice of Christ, we have access to the Father in prayer. We also have Jesus as a high priest to intercede on our behalf (see Romans 8:34). Imagine! Christ Himself stands before God on behalf of you and me. I love to know other people are praying and interceding for me. But to know that Christ Himself does so should bring us to our knees in gratefulness.
Yet for some reason, we seem to forget this more often than not. We tend to make prayer the thing we fall back on. “Well, I’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked. I guess I need to stop and pray that God would help me.” (I’ve said something like this more often than I care to remember.) What should be our first priority often becomes our last resort.
But knowing that Christ intercedes for us and that we can have access to God should be very reassuring, as we know that Christ Himself struggled while on earth. He faced stress and trials and was tempted, just like us, but never fell. Let’s look at some passages to see this.
Hebrews 5:7 tells us that “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” (ESV) The pictures of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane which show Him serenely praying with a ray of light shining on Him really does not do justice to what happened. He was praying “with loud cries and tears.” Jesus was facing stress, just like us. But He dealt with it the right way, by praying to God.
We also read this in Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (ESV) Not only did Christ face trials, but also He faced temptation. Unlike us, however, he overcame.
What does this mean for us? The next verse tells us: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV)
Because Christ was tempted and tried, He knows how we feel. We can approach God’s throne knowing that Christ understands and He intercedes to God on our behalf. What wonderful grace!
No wonder Paul encouraged people to pray continually and with every need (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and Philippians 4:6).
And as mentioned above, God is our Father. He doesn’t just want to hear from us when we are in need. He wants to hear from us at all times. We should approach Him in need and to say thanks, when we are struggling with sorrow and to rejoice with Him in our joy.
Let’s make it our goal to make prayer a priority in our lives.