One of the profound mysteries and privileges of being a son or daughter of God is that he is at hand. He beckons us to draw near to him and promises that he will draw near to us (James 4:8). How are we to draw near to him? Practically, we draw near to him in spirit through the reading and meditation of his word and the practice of prayer. However, I’m thinking more along the lines of the condition in which we draw near. What is our attitude? How are we coming to God?
Draw near to Him as Lord
“Jesus is Lord of all” is the reality Peter proclaims to the Gentiles in Acts 10:36. Jesus exercises sovereign authority and rule over all things. This is true whether we admit it or not, but for believers we recognize this truth and joyfully submit to Jesus as Lord. This is what it means to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts” (1 Peter 3:15). When we come to God, we are to have in our mind that he is Lord.
I wonder if this is how we view Jesus on a daily basis. Do we see him as master and giver of everything we need, or do we see him as a means to other things that we want more than him? Do we acknowledge his ways as higher and better than our ways, or do we endeavor to assert our ways over his, whatever they may be? Do we quip with James and John, “We want You to do for us whatever we ask of You” (Mark 10:35), or do we cry with Jesus, “Yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36)?
David Wells articulates this backward tendency:
We have turned to a God that we can use rather than a God we must obey; we have turned to a God who will fulfill our needs rather than to a God before whom we must surrender our rights to ourselves. He is a God for us and for our satisfaction, and we have come to assume that is must be so in the church as well. And so we transform the God of mercy into a God who is at our mercy. We imagine that he is benign, that he will acquiesce as we toy with his reality and co-opt him in the promotion of our ventures and careers.
When we draw near to God, we are recognizing him as Lord.
Draw near to Him with confidence in His mercy
The good news is that our Lord is merciful and gracious. When we approach him as Lord, we can be confident that he will deal with us benevolently. Since we have Jesus, who bore our reproaches and drank the cup that He wanted to pass, we can “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
When we draw near to God with confidence in his mercy and grace, we can come with clear hearts. We don’t have to come with a façade or pretentious prayers. Instead, we come honestly. The writer of Hebrews encourages this. “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (10:22).
Do you find yourself in a time of need? If not, you will soon. When you next commune with your Father, approach him humbly as your Lord and honestly as your giver of mercy and grace.
 David F. Wells, God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 114.