You're no Raven!1
Many people who pray do so with great hesitation in their hearts. They virtually tip toe to the throne of grace, fearful of upsetting God with what they perceive to be their own insolence or presumption. They lack confidence and courage. This is why we need to hear yet again the exhortation of Hebrews 4:16,
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
But confidence in what? Confidence in God, of course. The confidence that comes from knowing we have a great high priest who knows our thoughts, our hurts, our worst fears and our deepest desires (see Heb. 4:14-15).
But I want to suggest that this confidence is grounded not only in what God has done but in who we are as a result of what God has done. The psalmist said of God that “He gives to the beast their food, and to the young ravens that cry” (Ps. 147:9). Could it be that this is what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:24). This is marvelous logic indeed.
The raven is but a bird, whose death means little. We, on the other hand, are immortal souls. No raven, as far as I know, will ever be redeemed or resurrected. No raven will ever be raptured. How, then, could God hear its cry, and he does, but turn a deaf ear to yours? No raven was ever formed in the image of God. If you heard the cry of a hungry raven simultaneous with the cry of an abandoned and starving infant, to which would you first give aid? I know, it’s a silly question. But we are not better than God, are we? If we have the good sense to first attend the one who bears the divine image, will God do less?
Be it noted that Jesus refers to a raven; not a hawk or falcon or eagle or cardinal or robin or any such bird of beauty. It is to the lowly and seemingly useless raven that he appeals. If God would provide for the needs of so insignificant a bird, will he not happily and generously provide for yours. So, come to the throne of grace with confidence.
Let’s stay with this analogy for a moment. Consider the cry of the raven. It speaks no words, articulates no phrases, formulates no arguments. Its cry is purely of instinct. The raven makes no appeal to grace and knows nothing of the high priest, Jesus. In fact, Jesus didn’t die for a single raven, yet the Father graciously cares for their needs. How much more, then, shall he graciously care for yours.
Nowhere are ravens commanded to cry to God, yet we are repeatedly exhorted to do so. We have the divine warrant to come to this gracious throne. Ravens aren’t told to come yet they never go away empty. You and I come as invited guests. How, then, shall we be denied by him who has issued the invitation?
The cry of the raven is at best that of an unthinking animal. Ours is the cry of the precious Holy Spirit within us (cf. Rom. 8:26ff.). When the ravens cry to God they do so alone, but we cry jointly with our heavenly intercessor, the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:25). If the mere chattering of a single bird prevails upon God, how much more shall the petitions of his blood-bought child who can clench a request with the biblical plea, “Father, do it for Jesus’ sake!”
So, come to the throne of grace with confidence.