16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NKJ)
When it comes to prayer, many of us struggle because we don’t understand our position in Christ.
In Hebrews 4:16, we are told to come ‘boldly’ into the throne room of grace, and this word boldly reflects two key ideas.
First, it reflects our position
I believe the writer was deliberately comparing our position in Christ to that of Queen Esther, who, as the wife of the Persian King, did not have the right to enter the King’s throne room without first being summoned.
When Mordecai found out about a plot to massacre the Jews in captivity that originated in the palace, he pushed, even guilted his niece, about approaching the King to stop the massacre.
But even though she was Queen, Esther could not approach the King without first being summoned.
“And so I will go to the king, which is against the law;” Esther said. “And if I perish, I perish!”
She was risking her life. But agreed to do it, only if the Jews fasted and prayed.
Three days later, Esther put on her royal attire and stood in the inner court facing the throne room and when the King saw her, he extended his golden scepter to Esther.
This meant he had extended his favor and was allowing Esther to enter the throne room.
As she approached the King, Esther touched the tip of the royal scepter. Some suspect she may have actually kissed it (Esther 5:1-2).
And the word boldly tells us that because of Christ’s death on the cross, the golden scepter has already been extended allowing us to enter the throne room.
But it is more than that. We can enter the throne room of God, because of our unique position in the kingdom of God, as a child of God.
I remember reading a story of a general, who, along with several other senior leaders, was meeting with the King to discuss Hitler’s rise to power in prewar Germany.
They had to go through various protocols. They could only enter the king’s presence when invited. They could only speak when spoken to and when they left, they had to walk backward because they were not allowed to turn their back to the king.
But the general recounted how those rules did not apply to everyone, as demonstrated by one of the king’s children who burst into the room during their meeting, in tears, holding a broken toy.
There are rights that come from being a child of God (Romans 8:17) and God wants us to take advantage of them.
Secondly, it tells how to pray
The Greek word parrhesia used in Hebrews 4:16 literally refers to free speech, to speak boldly, and to speak the truth. It refers to the idea of speaking at one’s own personal risk.
The word described the type of speech that could be spoken in the ancient Greek political assemblies, where people were free to say whatever they wanted. The idea of free speech also extended to the playwrights, such as comedic Aristophanes, who were allowed to ridicule the rich and famous as well as those in power in their plays.
But for the remainder, there were limits on how far they could go. They were not free to mock the politicians and the rich. It was forbidden to mock the ancient Greek gods, or they could be charged with Asebeia, as Socrates was and executed because of it.
Though there were restrictions on speech in ancient times, there are none when it comes to prayer.
We have free speech.
We are to speak boldly.
This means we should hold nothing back. Voice your complaints. Be frank with God.
Tell the Lord exactly how you are really feeling, respectfully, of course.
If you are having doubts, tell God.
If you have questions, ask them.
If you think God is being unfair, be forthright.
But at the same time, be open to what the Holy Spirit may say in return.
In his article, discussing parrhesia/boldly, respected Greek Scholar, Rick Renner writes:
First, we know that whenever we approach the Lord in prayer, we need never fear that we are too frank, too bold, too forthright, too honest, too outspoken, or even too blunt when we bare our hearts to Him or request His help. We should never be irreverent, but neither do we need to be ashamed to speak exactly what is on our hearts. When you go to the Lord, He wants to hear exactly what you have to say!
Things are changing in our culture and as believers, we need to take our prayer life to the next level.
We need to start praying as one who is actually functioning as a coheir with Christ (Romans 8:17).
If we are praying with any less of an understanding, then we are praying as servants and may be responded to accordingly.