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Psalm 116


 

I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.  The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.  Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!"  Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.  The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.  Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.  

 

For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.   I believed, even when I spoke, "I am greatly afflicted";   I said in my alarm, "All mankind are liars."   What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?   I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,   I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.   Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.   O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.   I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.   I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,   in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!

(ESV)

 

 

 

 

Constant Prayer

Friday of Easter 7

22 May 2015

God does not need our prayer to Him. We need our prayer to Him. It isn't as though God would be ignorant of our needs and problems if we didn't inform Him; for He knows all things. I sometimes chuckle because people pray as though God needed to be informed in detail about the specifics. "Dear heavenly Father, please save Aunt Millie from her congestive heart failure. And oh, by the way, she is in Lutheran Hospital room 528." I suppose this level of specificity keeps God from having to look up Aunt Millie's room number. If God is really God, then He knows Aunt Millie's needs far better than we do. Knowing Aunt Millie's hospital room number is beneficial to us. We should go visit her to pray with her and share God's comforting Word with her. How powerful that intercession would be.

 

Our heavenly Father wants us to intercede in prayer for others who are in the midst of suffering or who are struggling with their faith. He Himself sends His Spirit to intercede for us in our weakness, when we don't know what to pray for, with utterances that we cannot express. The ultimate intercessor is God Himself. The work of God, even in prayer, is done for us and in our place. Since He knows all things, His prayers are ever perfect in both content and result. God expects us to follow the Spirit, by taking up the privilege of intercession for a brother or sister in Christ. Our hearts may be struck by the extraordinary suffering or trouble being experienced by our brother or sister, but this drives us to be all the more insistent and constant in intercessory prayer on their behalf.

 

Often those who pray will find themselves in a kind of war with God Himself; God pushing back against our ill-founded desires and wishes. All the saints and prophets of old experienced this. Moses battled with God in prayer, when God announced that He would destroy Israel and make Moses a great nation in its place. Moses pleaded for Israel, offering himself in its place to quell the righteous wrath of God (Ex 32:9-11). God pushes the force us to pray, to demand of him his mercy, and to offer ourselves into His service as He does for us. All the prophets and the apostles prayed for us as Jesus did when he offered intercession for those who would believe on Him through their word (Jn 17:20). This is why, for example, the apostle Peter warned future generations of the impending attacks of false teachers (2Pt 2:1). He understood that his proclamation and word would have a permanent meaning and audience with the bride of Christ, the church. This is why we still take heed to it (2Pt 1:19). We have all the spiritual gifts from the divine word and promises of God. What better tools could there be for constant prayer?

 

John Chrysostom

 

"'The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God' (Rm 8:27). The Spirit does not inform God as if He were ignorant, but this is done that we may learn to pray for proper things, and to ask from God what is pleasing to Him. For this is what the 'according to the will of God' means. This was with a view to comfort those who came to Him, and to give them excellent instruction. For He that furnished the gifts, and besides gave blessings without number, was the Comforter. Hence Paul says, 'All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit' (1Co 12:11). And it is for our instruction that this takes place, and to show the love of the Spirit, He condescends even to this. And it is from this that the person praying gets heard, because the prayer is made 'according to the will of God.'

 

"You see from how many points Paul instructs them in the love that was shown to them and the honor that was done them. What is there that God has not done for us? The world He made corruptible for our sakes, again for us makes incorruptible. He suffered His prophets to be ill-treated for our sake, sent them into captivity for us, let them fall into the furnace, and undergo ills without number. In fact, He made them prophets for us, and the Apostles also He made for us. He gave up for us His Only-begotten Son, He punished the devil for us, He has seated us on His right hand, He was reproached for us. The Psalm says, 'The reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me' (Ps 69:9). Yet still, when we are withdrawing from Him after such great favor, He does not leave us, but again entreats, and on our account incites others to entreat for us, that He may show us favor. And so it was with Moses. For to him He says, 'Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them' (Ex 32:10), that He might drive Moses to making supplication on their behalf. Now He does the same thing. Hence He gave the gift of prayer. But this He does, not as though He Himself stood in need of entreaty, but that we might not, from being saved too quickly, grow indifferent."
 
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 14.7
 
Prayer

O Holy Spirit, You have condescended to pray and intercede for us, so that we might have intercession when we do not know how to pray. Give us the courage by faith to claim the promises which have been granted to us through the merits and mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us poor sinners to give us access to the throne of our heavenly Father. Amen.

 

For Memorial Lutheran School, that students, teachers, and parents rejoice in the gifts of God as the school year draws to a close

 

For the graduates of our seminaries as they prepare to serve the church on a regular basis, that they and their families might find joy in the bearing of the cross

 

For the gift of rain, in thanksgiving to God for the gift of precipitation, and supplication for further rain to break the drought in the west coast of the United States

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057