Reading through The Attributes of God by A. W. Pink has assisted me in my prayer life immensely. When approaching my God in the gift of prayer, I often come to the throne with my own picture of God in my mind. After reading through thirteen out of seventeen chapters, I am enraptured by the magnificence of the glory of the attributes of our God revealed in his word.
The latest chapter on the grace of God provides a description of grace: “Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in the bestowment of blessing upon those who have no merit in them and for which no compensation is demanded from them. Nay, more; it is the favor of God shown to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own, but who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving. It is completely unmerited and unsought, and is altogether attracted by anything in or from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace.”
So, how does this encourage me in prayer? If the gift of grace is unearned by myself then no amount of “good” works can earn it nor any amount of “evil” works can un-earn it. It is solely and wholly dependent on the free, eternal, and sovereign grace of God.
Therefore, when drawing near to God and remembering my sin and unworthiness I am often tempted to pray as though God will not even hear such a sinful creature as myself. However, that is not how the bible teaches us to pray. It says, “therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus…..let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-23)
And what is it he promised? In exodus, when God was giving the law to Moses, he described himself as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.” (34:6-7)
If you are washed by the blood of Christ then stand, justified before your God and come to the throne of grace with confidence that God is faithful. May the stories of these people in the bible encourage you as you meditate on God’s grace towards sinners.
“Where sin has abounded, says the proclamation from the court of heaven, grace doth much more abound. Manasseh was a monster of barbarity, for he caused his own children to pass through the fire, and filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. Manasseh was an adept in iniquity, for he not only multiplied, and to an extravagant degree, his own sacrilegious impieties, but he poisoned the principles and perverted the manners of his subjects, making them do worse than the most detestable of the heathen idolaters (see II Chron. 33). Yet, through this superabundant grace he is humbled, he is reformed, and becomes a child of forgiving love, an heir of immortal glory.
“Behold that bitter and bloody persecutor, Saul; when, breathing out threatenings and bent upon slaughter, he worried the lambs and put to death the disciples of Jesus. The havoc he had committed, the inoffensive families he had already ruined, were not sufficient to assuage his vengeful spirit. They were only a taste, which, instead of glutting the bloodhound, made him more closely pursue the track, and more eagerly pant for destruction. He is still athirst for violence and murder. So eager and insatiable is his thirst, that he even breathes out threatening and slaughter (Acts 9:1). His words are spears and arrows, and his tongue a sharp sword. ‘Tis as natural for him to menace the Christians as to breathe the air. Nay, they bled every hour in the purposes of his rancorous heart. It is only owing to want of power that every syllable he utters,, every breath he draw, does not deal out deaths, and cause some of the innocent disciples to fall. Who, upon the principles of human judgment, would not have pronounced him a vessel of wrath, destined to unavoidable damnation? Nay, would not have been ready to conclude that, if there were heavier chains and deeper dungeon in the world of woe, they must surely be reserved for such an implacable enemy of the true godliness? Yet, admire and adore the inexhaustible treasures of grace—this Saul is admitted into the godly fellowship of the prophets, is numbered with the noble army of martyrs and makes a distinguished figure among the glorious company of the apostles.
“The Corinthians were flagitious even to a proverb. Some of them wallowed in such abominable vices, and habituated themselves to such outrageous acts of injustice, as were a reproach to human nature. Yet even these sons of violence and slaves of sensuality were washed, sanctified, and justified (I Cor. 6:9-11). “Washed”, in the precious blood of a dying redeemer; “sanctified”, by the powerful operations of the blessed Spirit; “justified”, through the infinitely tender mercies of a gracious God. Those who were once the burden of the earth are now the joy of heaven, the delight of angels.” (James Hervey)
The last quote from this chapter that I think very well sums up how we ought to approach the throne of grace is as follows:
“God the Father is the fountain of all grace, for he purposed in himself the everlasting covenant of redemption. God the Son is the only Channel of grace. The Gospel is the Publisher of grace. The Spirit is the Bestower. He is the one who applies the Gospel in saving power to the soul; quickening the elect while spiritually dead, conquering their rebellious wills, melting their hard hearts, opening their blind eyes, cleansing them from the leprosy of sin.”
The Attributes of God, A. W. Pink (Chapter 13, pg. 84-90)