There are two words here I want us to focus on in verse 16, “Let us then with confidence draw near.” Two English words are there, but in the original it is a Greek verb “προσερχομαι” (proserchomai). It is used 7 times in the book of Hebrews. I will mention three other places, and they all have to do with prayer.
Hebrews 7:25 “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
If we are Christians, we are disciples. We are learners: that is what a disciple means. We are always on a learning curve. No matter how long you have been a disciple of Christ, you’re still on a learning curve.
We are growing in our knowledge of God; our knowledge of Christ; our knowledge of ourselves; our knowledge of the world we live in; how to apply Scripture to our everyday life; and we’re always learning how to pray. I don’t think there are too many Christians who would say, “I’m perfectly satisfied with my prayer life.”
We always want to grow more when it comes to praying. We realize the best of our prayers are tainted with sin, scarred with our own remaining corruption. So, this side of heaven, we will always be asking the question those first disciples asked Jesus, “Teach us how to pray.” To pray more honestly (hypocrisy can plague our prayers). To pray more fervently (laziness and indifference can plague our prayers). To pray more boldly (fear can stain our prayers). To pray more humbly (pride can stain our prayers).
I think all of us can say this, “We want to pray with greater intimacy. Greater transparency.” There can be a distant kind of formality in our prayers. We want to get closer to God, nearer to God. We want to be like the Psalmist who can say “For me it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28). We love to sing that lovely hymn, “Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee!” (Lelia Morris, 1868).
Thankfully, we do not worship a far away God. He is not the god of the deist. In the Gospel, He is brought near. He is Emmanuel, with us. This lies right at the center of the Gospel. Why did Jesus go to that cross? To bring us near to God. We were far off, we were strangers. Now we are friends. We are now able to go to the throne of grace.
Ephesians 2:18 “…through him we…have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
I Peter 3:18 “…Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…”
So here we have in Hebrews we have four wonderful “draw near” invites. Encouragements or exhortations to come to the throne of grace. So here is a question. Why does God have to emphasize that so many times? At least four to seven times in the book of Hebrews we are told to “draw near.” Perhaps because we can be reluctant. Maybe fearful. Maybe our sin struggles can paralyze us or our failings can make us reluctant. We can retreat, pull back from God. God says, “I want you to draw near.”
Our confidence lies in the great High Priest from Hebrews 4. He knows us better than anyone. He shares in our weaknesses and our infirmities. That should make us willing to draw near. He understands who we are. He sympathizes with our weaknesses. He was tempted like we are.
We also have a Heavenly Father Who hears us, Who wants to give us gifts. Jesus mentions that He wants to give good gifts to those Who ask Him (Matthew 7:11).
And the Holy Spirit encourages us to be intimate. We are enabled by the Spirit of adoption to cry, “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15). Remember that word, “Abba” was the word the Jewish boy or girl would use. Sort of like that intimate word, “papa” or “daddy.” That’s the word God enables us to use. It was put on our tongues because the Spirit has been put into our hearts.
This should encourage us when we think of prayer. We have a wonderful privilege—it’s a duty, but it’s a wonderful privilege—to draw near to God. He wants it more than we do! “Cast all our care upon him” (I Peter 5:7).