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Psalm 70


Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! Let them turn back because of their shame who say, "Aha, Aha!"
 
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!" But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay! 
(ESV)
Dare Prayer
Holy Thursday
24 March 2016
Prayer is a daring act. How presumptuous that we dare to bring into the presence of the holy and righteous God our petitions and requests. This is especially the case with the petitions asking mercy from God for our sin. How can a sinner such as me assail the very gates of heaven with my sin, imploring God to grant remission? We should tremble at the mere thought of a sinner standing before the Holy One. That trembling arises especially when our own conscience attacks us with the utter truth about ourselves, that we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. The truth is that in our flesh (and we are flesh) dwells no good thing. No wonder we doubt that God should listen to us and we often give up praying!
 
We sinners dare to pray nonetheless. God has given us this wonderful petition which is the door to His mercy, "Forgive us our trespasses." Only where there is confidence that God forgives a sinner like me, will we pray this petition joyously and fervently. To that end God has invited us to pray in this way. Our own stubborn unbelief, our evil flesh, and the leering world that would impede our tearing open the gate to the peace which comes from God, must be ignored through the power that God gives.
 
We must stop our ears to the accusations of sin, because we have a Lord who has forgiven our sin and cleansed us from all unrighteousness in His Son. That is the more powerful truth of the gospel that overwhelms all other considerations. Thus faith is utterly certain of God's mercy through His promise; it must joyously burst forth with prayer and say, "Forgive us our trespasses!"

 

Martin Luther

"There is great need for us to call upon God and to pray, 'Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses.' It is not as though He did not forgive sin without and even before our prayer. (He has given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought about it [Rm 5:8].) But the purpose of this prayer is that we may recognize and receive such forgiveness. The flesh in which we daily live is of such a nature that it neither trusts nor believes God (Rm 7:14-18). It is ever active in evil lusts and strategies, so that we sin daily in word and deed (Gn 6:5), by what we do and failed to do (Jam 2:15-16). By this the conscience is thrown into turmoil, so that it is afraid of God's wrath and displeasure. So it loses the comfort and confidence derived from the gospel. Therefore, it is always necessary that we run here [to the fifth petition] and receive consolation to comfort the conscience again.
 
"But this should serve God's purpose of breaking our pride and keeping us humble. God has reserved this right for Himself: if anyone wants to boast of his godliness and despise others, that person is to think about himself and place this prayer before his eyes. He will find that he is no better than others (Rm 12:3) and that in God's presence all must tuck their tails and be glad that they can gain forgiveness. Let no one think that as long as he lives here he can reach such a position that he will not need such forgiveness (1Jn 1:8). In short, if God does not forgive without stopping, we are lost.
 
"It is, therefore, the intent of this petition that God would not regard our sins and hold up to us what we daily deserve. But we pray that He would deal graciously with us and forgive, as He has promised, and so grant us a joyful and confident conscience to stand before Him in prayer (Heb 10:22). For when the heart is not in a right relationship with God, or cannot take such confidence, it will not dare to pray anymore. Such a confident and joyful heart can spring from nothing else than the certain knowledge of the forgiveness of sin (Ps 32:1-2; Rm 4:7-8)."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism, 3.88-92
 
Prayer
Our Father, do not look upon our sins or deny our prayers on account of them. We confess that we are not worthy of any of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them. But we pray that You would grant them all to us by grace. For we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. And because you have been so merciful to us we too will gladly forgive all those who sin against us. Amen.
 
For all the newborns who are waiting for their parents to bring them to baptism, that God would keep the children in His care until they are brought into the new life of Christ in baptism
 
For all those who are composing their hearts by contrition and repentance to attend Holy Thursday services and receive the most holy body and blood of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins
 
For the people of Madagascar, that God the Lord would send clement weather,  that luxuriant crops would spring forth from the land watered by Him

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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