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)
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Mission of Prayer
The Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325
12 June 2015
Why pray? Because it's a good way to get away from people who are demanding our time. Want a fool proof way to get some time by yourself? When someone asks you for your time, just tell them that you are praying right now. They will leave you alone. Jesus went into the countryside by Himself to pray during His earthly ministry. "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, 'Everyone is looking for you'" (Mk 1:35-37). He replied as though to say, "Well yes, and they are expecting from me all the wrong things. I am not a wonder-working medicine man, I am God's Son. I must be about my mission to preach life to the world." And so Jesus uses prayer as a way to get away from people making demands that had little to do with the mission He had received from His Father. Why pray? To gain a time of peace to talk to your heavenly Father.
Jesus made ready to fulfill the mission God had for Him in His life by praying. "And Jesus said to them, 'Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.' And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons." (Mk 1:38-39). A dear pastor friend of mine recounted the quizzical members in his first parish asking him why he spent so much time shut up in his church office. When he told them he was spending his time praying for them, they looked at him with some puzzlement, and after a couple of moments, they asked, "Wouldn't you like us to install a TV in your office?" He realized that they thought watching TV was more important and more useful than praying. Martin Luther said that when he knew he had too much to do, he would pray longer before he began his labor. He said that when he prayed too long, he would inevitably accomplish far more than he would have otherwise. Why pray? You have too much to do, not to.
Of course you have a mission too. You are a parent, a teacher, a lawyer, a child, a friend, a wife. Your mission in life is tied to your God-given calling, your vocation. You will be more useful in your labor if you stop doing it to pray. Less work is more, when you labor with prayer. This is what organizational gurus call: "working smarter." Why pray? Because Christ has given you a mission.Why pray? Jesus prays and that's enough.
"Why do you torture yourself for a long time and enter into a debate with the devil, or why do you look for excuses and shrink from praying because you feel cold and unready? You undoubtedly hear that you should not pray in reliance on yourself or in your own name or perhaps in the name of someone else, be he ever so saintly, worthy, and spiritual. Christ wants you to pray in His name. You have His command and His promise. But by telling you to pray in His name He also exhorts and begs you. It is as though He were saying: 'My dear friend, it does not matter what condition you are in. If you cannot pray on your own authority and in your name (as indeed you should not) then please pray in My name. If you are not worthy and holy enough, let Me be holy and worthy enough for you. Just come on My authority and in My name, and say: "Dear Lord, I shall and will pray because of Your command and Your promise. If I cannot pray well, and if my prayer does not help or have validity when spoken in my name, then let it have validity and be a good prayer when spoken in the name of my Lord Christ."' And do not doubt that such a prayer is pleasing to God and that it is heard as surely as the name of Christ, God's own dear Son, is pleasing to Him, and as surely as God must say yea and amen to all that Christ asks for.
"Thus these words 'in My name' demand faith when one prays. They show that our own worthiness should not demand that we pray or achieve fulfillment, and that our unworthiness should not prevent us from praying. They show that we are surely heard solely for the sake of Christ, our only Mediator and High Priest before God. Therefore our prayer must be centered in Him alone. All Christendom prays in this manner; it concludes and seals all its prayers and cries with the words 'through Jesus Christ, our Lord.' In this way it brings its offerings to God in faith. Therefore you should do likewise, in order that you may defend yourself against the terrible thoughts which detain and deter you from prayer. Be sure not to let the devil delude you when he tells you that you are unworthy; but for this very reason fall on your knees when you feel that you are not worthy and cannot become worthy. Cling to Christ, make your prayer dependent on Him, and bring it before God by asking Him to accept and hear it for Christ's sake. By no means be in doubt or uncertain when you pray; but believe confidently that your prayer has come before God, has reached its goal, and has already been granted. For it has been offered in the name of Christ and has been concluded with the amen with which Christ Himself here confirms His Word.
Martin Luther, Sermons on John, 16.23
Lord Jesus, send Your Spirit to us that we might be bold to pray precisely when we feel most unworthy. You have given us the Triune Name in our baptism. Assure us through this gift, that it is this name that gives us access in faith to the throne of your grace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
For the newly re-elected President of the Northwest District of the LCMS, Paul Linnemann, that he would confess the holy faith as he leads the holy church built by that faith
For the delegates at the Northwest District Convention as they hear the Word of God in the convention service tomorrow, that they might granted the courage of Christ
For the missionaries who serve fulltime in foreign fields, that they would be strengthened by Jesus Christ to proclaim His Word
Art: Dürer, Albrecht The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)
© Scott R. Murray, 2014