Excerpt from a book I’ve borrowed, and was dipping into recently. It’s a small paperback, part doctrinal, part devotional, by Octavius Winslow, an English/American(?) preacher, who flourished (love that expression) in the mid 19th century. His style is sometimes too elaborate for my taste, I must admit, so I’m afraid I only read him when I’m in the mood for it. This bit is from a chapter on prayer in his Work of the Holy Spirit, where he discusses prayer in the sense of ‘coming to the throne of grace’.
It is a throne, because God is a Sovereign. … He hears whom he will, and answers what and when he will. … But it is also a throne of grace. … A God of grace sits on it, and the sceptre of grace is held out from it, and all the favours bestowed there are the blessings of grace.
God has many thrones. There is the throne of creation, and the throne of providence, and the throne of justice, and the throne of redemption; but this is the throne of grace.
Just the throne we want! We are the poor, the needy, the helpless, the vile, the sinful, the unworthy. We have nothing to bring but our deep wretchedness and poverty – nothing but our complaints, our miseries, our crosses, our groanings, our sighs and tears. But it is the throne of grace. For just such it is set up.
It is a God of grace who sits upon it, and all the blessings he dispenses from it are the gifts of grace. Pardon, justification, adoption, peace, comfort, light, direction – all, all, is of grace. No worth or worthiness in the creature extracts these blessings; no price he may bring purchases them; no tears or complainings or misery move the heart of God to compassion – it is all of grace. God is so full of compassion and love and mercy that he does not need to be moved to pour it forth. …
Therefore, whatever your case, you may come. If it is a throne of grace (as indeed it is), then why not come? Why stand a long way off? If the poor, the penniless, the disconsolate and the guilty are welcome here, if this throne is crowded by such – why make yourself an exception? Why not come too? What is your case, what is your sorrow, what is your burden? … Go to the throne of grace. Whether the want is temporal or spiritual, take it there. …
Do not stay away from the throne of grace because of an unfavourable state of mind. If God is ready to receive you just as you are, if no questions are asked and no examination is instituted, and no exceptions are made on account of the badness of the state, then count it a great blessing to be able to go to God even when you feel at your worst. To keep away from the throne of grace because of unfitness and unpreparedness to approach it, is to turn the throne of grace into a throne of merit. …
What is your state? Are you weak in prayer? Are you tried in prayer? And yet is there anything of real want, of real desire in your heart? Is this so? Then draw near to God. Your state of mind will not be more favourable tomorrow than it is today. You will not be more acceptable or welcome at any future period than you are at this moment.
Supposing your state is the worst that can be, your frame of mind the most unfavourable, your cross the heaviest, your corruption the strongest, your heart the hardest — still go to the throne of grace.