Every Sunday, when we are reciting the Apostles’ Creed together, one of the doctrines that we profess belief in is the ascension of Christ. We say, “He ascended into Heaven, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” It is a doctrine that is so quickly forgotten, but carries with it so many important and life changing implications. Not the least of which connects to prayer.
The writer of Hebrews says that we have a high priest, Jesus, who passed through the heavens and continually makes intercession for us. (Heb 4:14-16) That means that because of Christ’s life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, we have access to the throne of grace. Without the doctrine of the ascension we could not have confidence that our prayers would not fall on deaf ears. “Christ maketh intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven…” (WLC Q. 55)
Based on the fact that Jesus is in heaven making constant intercession for us we can trust James 5:16, “The effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” We know that our God stands waiting for us to bring our prayers before him. Jonathan Edwards says that God is in a way “overcome” by our prayers. He is a prayer-hearing God and as such “manifests himself as conquered by it [prayer].” We know all of this is true because when we pray, the Father sees and hears His Son.
What value is there in the doctrine of the ascension? All the value in the world. Without this doctrine we have no sure hope in our prayers. However, with this doctrine we should be known as a people who prays and prays expectantly because we have a God who not only hears but responds. He waits to be overcome by our prayers.