Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield. (ESV)
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The Spirit Intercedes
St. Barnabas, Apostle
11 June 2015
Even if we can't see or even feel our trouble we should still pray. If Jesus prays because He knows His future and our future together with Him, then we, who do not know the future, ought to pray all the more often, motivated by what is yet to come. Why pray? Because the future is yet to come. We don't always know why we pray, because we cannot know the future. We are stumbly in our words, uncertain, afraid, full of guilt. These are all reasons to pray more, not less.
Even the Spirit prays for us with utterances we cannot even express. When we are all cried out, when don't know what we should ask for, when we don't know the future, God the Spirit intercedes for us. St. Paul says, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rm 8:26-27). Maybe we mumble along, maybe we don't, but the fact that God substitutes for us in our stunted prayers, means that prayer is pretty important to Him. When you can't, He does! Why pray? Because God the Spirit intercedes for us.
Why pray? Because our loved ones suffer illness and disease. Yes, of course there are doctors, technicians, chemotherapy, and injections. But even if Christ uses them, it is still the healing that He brings. Jesus is moved by the need of those who suffer. He heals the mother-in-law of Peter without being asked (Mk 1:28-31). And no matter what you think of your mother-in-law, it is still a demonstration of His care for those who suffer. He heals those who crowd into the walled compound that surrounded Peter's house in Capernaum (Mk 1:32-34). Every request for healing is an urgent prayer. He hears and brings the blessing of crosses to us, as He sees fit.
However, He does not heal everyone! He sneaks away from Capernaum in the cold, grey hours before morning; leaving behind the eager crowd. There was something more important for Him to do at that moment. To pray. Why pray? Because our loved ones are suffering.
"At one time, I had no other conviction than that Paul gave no thought at all to exerting himself and battling against the flesh. But he says: 'A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me
' (2Co 12:7
). He teaches me what faith is. I see the glorious victories of the saints and the martyrs. But my faith cannot accomplish this. And they also exerted themselves and overcame death. They did not do this without a great conflict. Thus we, too, have the same baptism, the same consoling God, and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter who offers us rich comfort in the Word. And although I gladly hear the account of the conflicts and the victories of the saints, I cannot do the same things. Therefore one must take hold of the Word: 'Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage'
)! God does not abandon the weak in faith. Indeed, the apostles themselves and the prophets were not strong in faith, especially when they were about to do great things through faith.
"Moses trembles at the Red Sea and cries out (Ex 14:15), for the flesh not only waged war against him but took him captive. 'For you see,' the flesh suggested to him, 'that there are mountains on both sides. Egypt is behind us, and before us is the sea, through which we will not be able to pass with the children, the women, and the cattle.' Thus he was being forced to despair, as it were; for the law of his flesh and of his members (Rm 7:23) kept telling him: 'Behold, we are deprived of all aid! What have I done by leading the people out? We shall all have to perish.' Here begin the sighs that are too deep for words, as Paul calls them (Rm 8:26). This cry cannot be written down. Nor can it be described in anyone's words, for this expression 'THE SIGHS OF THE HEART' is powerful beyond measure. It fills heaven, penetrates the clouds, and reaches the ears of the divine Majesty, so that God answers: 'Why do you cry' (Ex 14:15)? Yet he did not cry. Moses was aghast, his hair stood on end, and his voice stuck in his throat. But He who searches the hearts understands what the spirit wants when it sighs (Rm 8:27)."
Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 27.21-22
Dear Father, we kneel before you with tongues tied by weakness, guilt, and ignorance. But you do not leave us in this predicament. Send Your Spirit the Comforter to us that we might join our sighs with His speech too deep for our words. Amen.
For all those who are starting or working in small businesses, that the Lord would grant increase to their gifts
For Amie Boster, that she would receive a full and complete healing
For all those who are undergoing surgery, that they might receive healing from the Physician of body and soul
Art: Dürer, Albrecht The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)
© Scott R. Murray, 2014