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Psalm
118:1-18


Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
 
Let Israel say, "His steadfast love endures forever." Let the house of Aaron say, "His steadfast love endures forever." Let those who fear the LORD say, "His steadfast love endures forever."
 
Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
 
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
 
All nations surrounded me; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off! I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me.
 
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: "The right hand of the LORD does valiantly, the right hand of the LORD exalts, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!"
 
I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. The LORD has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
(ESV)
Lord, Teach Us to Pray
Friday of Lent 4
11 March 2016
The person who does not pray knows neither his desperate need nor the benefit of praying. Although teaching people the language of prayer is indeed a good thing, still there is a sense in which prayer must be totally untaught and absolutely spontaneous. As new beings re-created after the Spirit, prayer should well up within us with artesian insistence (Jn 7:38). Unfortunately, spontaneity is often the excuse for lethargy. Prayer that must be spontaneous is often left unsaid, because our flesh masters spontaneity.
 
To encourage prayer God has attached great and precious promises to prayer. He promises to listen to us and see to our needs. However, we are also driven to prayer by the trouble we see in the world and feel in our own hearts. There is no end of things for which we should be praying. For the devil prowls around constantly seeking whom he may devour. Praying for rescue from the devil could occupy endless hours, plaguing Satan and glorifying God. Think of all those offices of divine governance in the world! We should pray for the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, state legislators, the Governor of our state, our mayor, the military, police and firefighters, rescue workers, doctors and nurses, and the like. We should pray for the faithful and successful execution of their duties and for their safety in the midst of many troubles and trials.
 
Most Christians have had the experience that they only pray earnestly when great trouble comes their way. This happens perhaps when a loved one becomes gravely ill. As many hours are spent in anxious waiting and watching at the sickbed of a spouse, parent, or child heartfelt prayers ascend assailing heaven, demanding of God that He fulfill his gracious promises to us his children. This is truly taking heaven by storm and is welcomed by our heavenly Father (Mt 11:12). There is so much to pray for and so much benefit in praying, we can never think of ourselves as having finished praying. Lord, teach us to pray!

 

Martin Luther

"Where there is true prayer there must be earnestness. Wemust feel our need, the distress that impels and drives us to cry out. Then prayer will come spontaneously, as it should, and we shall not need to be taught how to prepare for it or how to generate devotion. The need which ought to be the concern of both ourselves and others is quite amply indicated in the Lord's Prayer. Therefore it may serve to remind us and impress on us not to neglect praying. We all have needs enough, but the trouble is that we do not feel or see them. God therefore wishes you to lament and express your needs and wants, not because he is unaware of them, but in order that you may kindle your heart to stronger and greater desires and spread your cloak wide to receive many things.
 
"Each of us should form the habit from his youth to pray daily for all his needs, whenever he is aware of anything that affects him or other people around him, such as preachers, magistrates, neighbors, servants; and, as we have said, he should always remind God of His commandment and promise, knowing that He will not have them despised. This I say because I would like to see people brought again to pray rightly and not act so crudely and coldly that they become daily more inept at praying. This is just what the devil wants and works for with all his might, for he is well aware what damage and harm he suffers when prayer is in proper use."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism, 3.26-29
 
Prayer
Lord, teach us to pray. Help us to see that trouble and trial are just signs that we need to be on our knees. As You impel us to pray, give us the faith to believe that with You nothing is impossible. Amen.
 
For Memorial Lutheran Church as she considers her ministry to the lost, that she would be earnest in prayer for those whom the Lord would draw to Himself
 
For Scott Saenger, that God the Lord would grant him strength and clarity of confession
 
For the people of CNH District, as church leaders make a visitation upon the district president, Bob Newton, and its board of directors
 
For all marriages, that God the Lord would continue to grant peace and forgiveness in the marital estate so that husbands and wives would live in peace and harmony

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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