Plenty To Pray For
Wednesday of Epiphany 5
7 February 2018
The church constantly prays, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Our Lord has set these words on our lips, that we might cry out to Him that He would deliver us from the evil one's kingdom and its disorder. We pray these words both for ourselves and others, especially the catechumens, who are being furiously attacked by doubt, disinformation, and demonic desire, so that they will not fall back into the clutches of the prince of this world. It is a shocking feature of modern life that many people doubt the existence of the enemy of God, while he, with his lurid grin, is staring us in the face. There is much experience which points to his being alive and well.
 
His main plan of attack is to cause defection from the church for those whom our Lord is drawing into His kingdom of grace. He does this best when he can convince everyone that neither he nor God exists. His denial of the spirit world is a double-edged sword, for it leads people to disbelieve in the gracious kingdom of the church and to deny the secret and serpentine attacks that our enemy wreaks upon us. There is no more effective way to reduce people's defenses against attack than to deny that there is an enemy army surrounding them. Who builds walls when the citizens are convinced that there is no threat to their city. The Bible is quite clear about the presence of an alien, if unseen, enemy constantly at our throats: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:12). So who says there is nothing to pray about? Only if your are spiritually blind could you think so. Your enemy would prefer that you suffer that blindness, that he might blind side you. Like the hockey player that mistakenly looks down to find the puck is devastated by a body check he does not see coming, so it is for those who believe that there are no unseen enemies to be watched for. While our heads are down concentrating on the things of this world, our enemy in the unseen world devastates us.
 
Our enemy is the great accuser. He accuses God of incompetence and carelessness. When you are suffering sickness or persecution, the accusation arises that God does not care for you or if He does He is unable to succor those who are in distress, or that He has ceded the stewardship of this world to His enemy. The enemy would love you to think that those who suffer, suffer without God's care and that those who are persecuted should blame God for His weakness. God's enemy will deny that that those who suffer persecution are among the blessed (Mt 5:12). We easily leap to the enemy's conclusions because they are so facile. Suffering is always bad and should be avoided at all costs. I must esteem myself above all other persons. Others should serve me. These leap from our perverse hearts with demonic regularity.
 
Satan rages against us when we have pledged ourselves to Triune God in the baptismal waters through which we enter into the kingdom of life. The Lord's name has been placed upon us and we have responded with a decisive Amen. We have transferred allegiance in this event to the Kingdom of Christ, our Lord. There is nothing but rage and spite from our enemy when this happens. There is plenty to pray for.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Chrysostom
"When the Deacon prays, 'Let us beseech for them yet more earnestly that God would deliver [the catechumens] from every evil and disordered thing,' we ask for them that they may not enter into temptation, but be delivered from every snare, a deliverance both bodily and spiritual. Then he also says, 'from every demonic sin and from every attack of the adversary,' meaning, temptations and sins. For sin easily besets, taking its stand on every side, before, behind, and so casting down. For, after telling us what ought to be done by us, namely, to be occupied in His law, to remember His commandments, to keep His judgments, he assures us next that not even is this enough, except that the Lord Himself stand by and save us. For, 'Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it' (Ps 127:1), and especially in the case of those who are yet exposed to the devil and are under his dominion.
 
"You who are initiated know this well. For call to mind, for instance, those words by which you renounced the devil's usurped rule, and bent the knee and deserted to The King, and uttered those awesome words by which we are taught in nothing whatever to obey Satan. Christ calls him adversary and accuser, because he both accuses God to man and us to God, and us again one to another. For once, he accused Job to God, saying, 'Does Job fear God for no reason?' (Job 1:9) At another time, he accused God to Job, 'The fire of God fell from heaven' (Job 1:16). And again, God to Adam (Gn 3:5), when he said their eyes would be opened. And to many people of this day, saying, that God does not care for the visible order of things, but has delegated your affairs to demons. And to many of the Jews he accused Christ, calling Him a deceiver and a sorcerer.
 
"Maybe someone would wish to hear how Satan works. When he finds a mind that is not godly, finds an unsound understanding, then, as into a soul left empty, he leads his reveling there. When someone does not remember the commandments of God nor keep His judgments, then he takes him captive and departs. Had Adam, for example, remembered the commandment which said, 'You may surely eat of every tree of the garden' (Gn 2:16) and had he kept the judgment which said, 'In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.' it would not have fared with him as it did.
 
"Then the Deacon prays, 'That God would count the Catechumens worthy in due season of the regeneration of the font, of the forgiveness of sins.' For we ask some things to come now, some to come hereafter; and we expound the doctrine of the font, and in asking instruct them to know its power. For what is said afterward familiarizes them to know already that what is there done is a regeneration, and that we are born again of the waters, just as of the womb; so that they do not say after Nicodemus, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' (Jn 3:4). Then, because he had spoken of 'forgiveness of sins,' he confirms this by the following words, 'of the clothing of incorruption;' for he that puts on sonship clearly becomes incorruptible (1Co 15:53-54)."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on 2 Corinthians, 2.9
1 Corinthians 15:50-57

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (ESV)
Prayer
All-pitying and merciful God, we beseech You to listen yet more earnestly to our prayer for those who are being instructed in the faith that You would deliver them from every evil and disordered thing, from every demonic sin and every besetment of the adversary. At the right time, count them worthy of the regeneration of the font and of the forgiveness of sins. Cover them with the clothing of incorruption through the garment of righteousness cleansed the blood of Your Son. Amen.
 
For all ministers of the Word, as they lead the sheep to the foot of the cross of Christ and prepare them for the Passover of God, that they would preach the gospel and not be come weary in so doing
 
For Martha Fredenburg, who is contemplating a call to St. Paul Lutheran Church and School in Latimer, Iowa as teacher and administrator, that the Lord of the church would grant her wisdom in her deliberations
 
For Hilary Haak and all pregnant mothers, that mother and child would be kept safe in childbirth
Art: DAVID, Gerard  Triptych of Jean Des Trompes (1505)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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