Shared Prayer
Jacob, Patriarch
5 February 2018
Prayer is a big deal. We all know that. Then why don't we pray more? Sometimes, we think that we have nothing to pray about. Nothing to pray about!? If we think that, we are spiritually deaf and blind. Just to pray that the Lord's will be done on earth means that we are praying for the Lord to conform our will to his own. Once our wills are completely conformed to God's we could certainly stop praying. When will that be? When we are in heaven.
How extensive is this will of God? God's will is infinite, for His will is set upon His children and their needs. He deals compassionately with us, His children. However, God's mind is not open to us. There is a limitation to our knowing the will of God. God has only revealed certain things from His will to us. We are limited to what God has revealed to us. Our minds must be open to the mind of Christ as revealed by His suffering, death, and resurrection (Phil 2:5-9). Our prayer book, the textus receptus of prayer, is nothing less than the Bible. This is where we find the mind of Christ. Once we have prayed the whole Bible we would certainly be finished praying. How could we ever run out of things about which we should be praying?
We should also be praying in thanksgiving to the Lord for all the wonderful gifts that he showered on our fellow members of Christ. We are never alone in our praying. Indeed, by praying we are sharing in the great blessings that the Lord gives to His church. When a family approaches the altar and asks that prayers be offered for a newborn child, we Christians are all rejoicing at the birth of the child. When that child is brought into the church through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit by baptism, we are gaining a new fellow in Christ, a new member of the body of the Lord. The senior women of my parish always stay to participate in a baptism if it is not celebrated in the early service, which they regularly attend. They are rejoicing that a new member is being brought into the body of Christ. Perhaps they are exhibiting a maturity to which the rest of us ought to aspire.
Over a baptism we should all rejoice and pray for the child to remain in the faith into which they have been baptized. It would be easy to say, "What has this to do with me? I hardly know these people and share nothing of their joy." What an anemic faith that would exhibit! The Lord wants us to share in both the joys and sorrows that are experienced by our fellow members of Christ. We do that fully when those joys and sorrows shared are also prayed about. The Apostle Paul certainly called for prayer on his behalf for this reason. "He [Christ] delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many" (2Co 1:10-11).

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Chrysostom
"Let us be diligent in coming together in supplication; and let us pray for one another, as the Corinthians did for the Apostles. For so we both fulfill a commandment, and are 'anointed' unto love: (and when I say love, I speak of every good thing) and also learn to give thanks with more earnestness. For those who give thanks for the things of others, will much more give thanks for their own. This also David did, saying, 'Magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!' (Ps 34:3). This the Apostle also everywhere requires. Let us too labor in prayer; and let us show to all the beneficence of God that we may get companions in the act of praise.
"If when we have received gifts from men we encourage others to join us in the giving of thanks, how much more ought we to bring many to God who may give thanks on our behalf. For if Paul who had so great confidence in God does this, how much more is it necessary for us to do it. Let us then exhort the saints to give thanks on our behalf; and let us do the same ourselves for one another.
"To pastors especially this good work belongs, since it is a great privilege. For drawing near, we first give thanks for the whole world and the good things common to all. For even though the blessings of God be common, yet the common preservation includes your own; so that you both owe common thanksgivings for your own individual blessing, and for the common blessings you should be required to offer your own individual praise. For He lighted up the sun not for you alone, but also for all in common. Nevertheless, you have its whole benefit for yourself. For the sun was made so large for the common good. Yet you individually see it as large, just as all men have seen it; therefore you owe thanksgiving as great as all together; and you ought to give thanks for what all have in common and likewise for the virtue of others. For on account of others, too, we receive many blessings. For had there been found in Sodom only ten righteous persons, they would not have suffered what they did. So then let us give thanks also for the confidence of others toward God. For this custom is an ancient one, planted in the church from the beginning. Paul also gives thanks for the Romans (Rm 1:8), for the Corinthians (1Co 1:4), for the whole world (1Ti 2:1). Don't say to me, 'The good work is not mine;' for although it is not yours, you ought to give thanks for what your fellow member does. And besides, by your acclamation you make it your own, and share the crown, and you also receive the gift.
"On this account, the church commands prayer also be made not only for the faithful, but also for the catechumens. The law stirs up the faithful to offer supplication for the uninitiated. For when the deacon says, 'Let us pray earnestly for the catechumens,' he does nothing but energize the whole multitude of the faithful to pray for them, although the catechumens are as yet outside the communion. For they are not yet of the body of Christ, they have not yet partaken of the sacramental mysteries, but are still divided from the spiritual flock. But if we ought to intercede for them, how much more for our own members. And even therefore he says, 'earnestly let us pray,' that you not disown those outside the communion, that you should not disregard them as strangers. For as yet the catechumens have not participated in the appointed prayer of eucharistic service, which Christ brought in. As yet they have not confidence, but have need of others' aid who have been initiated into the sacramental mysteries. For they stand outside the King's courts, far from the sacred precincts. They are even asked to leave while those awesome prayers are being offered. Therefore, also the deacon exhorts you to pray for them that they may become members with you, that they may be no longer strangers and outside the eucharistic fellowship. For the words, 'Let us pray,' are not addressed to the pastors alone, but also to those that make up the people. For when the deacon says, 'Let us stand in order. Let us pray;' he exhorts all to the prayer." 

John Chrysostom, Homilies on 2 Corinthians, 1.6
Psalm 34

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. (ESV)
Lord Christ, You have called on us to pray, interceding for Your body, the church. Keep us diligent in prayer that we might share both joys and sorrows with the faithful. Lead us to pray for those who are outside the fellowship of the church, that through orthodox catechesis they might be brought into the communion of sacred things. Let us join with the whole church everywhere when the "let us pray," is intoned in our churches as we cry out to You our only Savior, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, are one God, now and forever. Amen.
For President Matthew Harrison and the Vice Presidents of the LCMS, that they would be faithful in their offices
For all teachers, that they would uncover the beauty of the world for their students
For all peace officers, that the Lord Jesus would send His holy angels to watch over them and guide them in all their ways
Art: DAVID, Gerard  Triptych of Jean Des Trompes (1505)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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