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The Unworthy Are Accepted

Do you feel unworthy to present your prayers to God? Then you, of all people, may expect to be heard. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.


The Lord never heard any that either were really worthy, or did account themselves so. All that ever had access to, and audience with God, have been really, and in their own esteem, unworthy. The Lord requires not that his people should bring any worth with them to commend their prayers to him. The want of personal worth did never hinder the Lord from answering prayer. Therefore no reason to be discouraged for want of that which is neither necessary nor ever was present. No flesh is justified in his sight.

The more unworthy, and withal the more sensible of it, the more hopes of answer and acceptance. This is so far from being any just impediment to faith, as it should rather encourage it; for Scripture and experience tell us it is both the Lord’s gracious disposition and practice to do most for them who are, or seem to themselves to be, most unworthy: ‘He fills the hungry,’ Luke i. 53, 48, ‘but casts down the mighty,’ ver. 52. He pronounces them blessed who are poor, Mat. v.; calls not many wise and noble, 1 Cor. i. 26–28; seeks that which is lost, Luke vi. 19, 20; saves sinners, the chief of them, 1 Tim. i. 15; invites beggars, sends out his servants to fetch them, Luke xiv. 21, 23; those who have no money, no worth, worth nothing, Isa. lv.; pities those whom no eye pities, Ezek. xvi. 6; condescends lowest to those who are lowest. He takes pleasure in it, he gets honour by it. Hereby is the freeness, the riches of grace made more conspicuous, infinite mercy appears more merciful.

Consider but the different demeanour and success of the Pharisee and publican as to this duty, and it will put it past doubt. Consider what self-confidence and conceitedness in the one, what humility and sense of unworthiness in the other: Luke xviii. 10 to the 15th, ‘This man went away justified, rather than the other.’ Justified, i. e., pardoned, accepted, answered. Rather, i.e., exclusively; he was justified, and not the other. The reason is observable: ver. 14, ‘For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’ Sense of unworthiness should rather strengthen than discourage.

Prayer and praying in faith is not only a privilege, but a duty; and is any one unworthy to do his duty? If it was only a privilege, unworthiness might be some plea to keep off sinners from meddling with prayer or acting faith, but since it is a duty, you cannot with any reason, cannot without absurdity make use of it to discourage you. What, are you unworthy to obey God, to do what he commands, to do as he requires? The very conceit of this is absurd; men would laugh at such a plea; God will be far from accepting it. Would you take it well from your servant, if he should neglect to do what you command under pretence that he is unworthy to obey you? Yes, you would count it a jeer, you will think him idle, and foolish too in finding no better excuse for his idleness. The case is alike in reference to God; we are unworthy to receive, but not to obey. There is no show of reason why this should be a discouragement.

Though you be unworthy to be heard, yet Christ is worthy; it is he that undertakes to present your petition, and procure an answer. Believers, when they are found praying, they are found as Paul, Philip. iii. 9, ‘not having their own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ, that which is of God by faith.’ Faith makes Christ yours, and so his righteousness yours. It unites to Christ as to your head . . . When the Lord looks on you he finds you having Christ’s righteousness, and that is enough to make both persons and prayers righteous, to cover all unworthiness in either that might hinder acceptance. Though Christ communicates not his merits, so as we can deserve anything, yet he communicates the efficacy and benefits of interest in his merits, so as if they be not ours they are for us; he deserves, he is worthy that we should be heard.

—David Clarkson, Faith in Prayer, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:221–222.

Posted 2017·09·27 by David Kjos
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Posted in: David Clarkson · Prayer · Works of David Clarkson

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