Category Archives: prayer

Spiritual? Cut it out! Isn’t it time to get serious about Jesus?!

“If you live in me and what I say lives in you, then ask for anything you want, and it will be yours.” John 15: 7

Why do we study history? There is such great wisdom, people who’ve confronted the same issues we’re confronting today and have given us such deep thought. Dr Martin Luther wrote voluminously is his time. He has created such incredible wisdom, he really did conflate the left and right hand kingdoms (the left is the government/society, the right is the church) in that both are in God, and both need to be focused on God’s will and not man’s. He gave us so much guidance in how we should deal with trials, he spent a good deal of his life being a marked man by the Roman Catholic church which wanted Luther burned at the stake. He certainly knew how to deal with the trials in his life. He gave us so much on how we as Christians should see those who are lost in the world.

I refer you to Dr Luther in a particular writing on prayer. I would stipulate that many people who pray and who are not Christians, and what Dr Luther points out as the profound difference between the two types of people:

“This is a miserable world for unbelievers. They work so hard, yet accomplish nothing. They may even pray a lot, search all over and knock at the door. Yet nothing is gained, found, or achieved, for they’ve knocking on the wrong door. They do all this without any faith. That’s why they can’t really pray.”

“Prayer is the work of faith alone. No one, except a believer, can truly pray. Believers don’t pray on their own merits, but in the name of the Son of God, in whom they were baptized. They’re certain that their prayers please God because he commanded them to pray in the name of Christ and promised he would listen to them. But the others don’t know this. Instead, they pray in their own name and believe they can prepare themselves. They think they can read enough to make themselves worthy and smart enough to make prayer into an acceptable work. And when we ask them whether their prayers have been heard, they reply, ‘I prayed, but if my prayers were heard only God knows.’ If you don’t know what you are doing or whether God is listening, what kind of a prayer is that?”

“But Christians don’t approach prayer this way. We pray in response to God’s command and promise. We offer our prayers to God in the name of Christ, and we know that what we ask for will be given to us. We experience God’s help in all kinds of needy situations. And if relief doesn’t come soon, we still know that our prayers are pleasing to God. We know that God has answered us because he gives us the strength to endure.” ( Martin Luther quoted in “Through Faith Alone” Concordia Publishing House 1999 Jun 11 page)

I’ve seen many genuine Christians pray, and yes I understand we all know to where/whom, they are praying. But I would certainly encourage Christians to end all their prayers “In the Name of Jesus Christ, I pray, Amen”. Then there’s no doubt what you are doing, that our prayers are only in the Holy Spirit to our Lord Jesus Christ. Any other prayer just doesn’t matter, so why even pray it? I was asked to open sessions of county commissioners meeting. The only caveat was not to pray in Jesus’ name. I respectfully refused. Why would I do that? What’s the point? I’m a Christian pastor, there’s only one way I’m going to pray. I understand in today’s world of American Christianity (which is at best nominally “Christian”), we have accepted this civic sort of “To whom it may concern” prayer. Again what’s the point? I’m frankly a little afraid of what/who we’re praying to if not in Jesus’ Name. Which of the many idols we see in America are we actually offering prayer? Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:13 that we should pray in His Name. There’s only one, God Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and it is in the all powerful Name of Jesus Christ our Lord that I offer any prayer.

God’s promises to us in prayer

The last Tuesday of the month is out monthly prayer breakfast at First Saint Johns Lutheran Church. It is a time to lift up prayer for each other, for the church that God has put us in, for our community, any other needs that people bring up. Everyone is welcome, it’s a great breakfast and a really great time of fellowship in prayer.

It is also a time for a little teaching. We can all always use a little more guidance in our prayer/devotional life and I found he following is from Martin Luther which will be a topic of conversation:

“Good prayer that is heard by God has two prerequisites. First, we must consider God’s promise that he will hear us. By reminding him of his promise, we can dare to pray confidently. For God hadn’t asked us to pray and hadn’t promised to hear us, then all people praying their requests together wouldn’t be able to receive even the smallest item.

So no one receives anything from God because of the quality of the prayer, but only because of God’s goodness. God anticipates all of our requests and desires. With his promise, he prompts us to pray and desire these things so that we will learn how much he cares for us. He cares for us so much that he is prepared to give us even more than we are ready to receive or to ask for. Because he is offering us so much, we can pray with confidence.

Second, we must not doubt what the true and faithful God promises to do. He promises to hear our prayers – yes, he even commands us to pray. He promises this so that we might firmly believe that our prayers will be answered. As Christ says, ‘That’s why I tell you to have faith that you have already received whatever you pray for, and it will be yours’ (Mark 11:24; Matthew 21:22). Christ also says, ‘So I tell you to ask and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find, and for the person who knocks, the door will be opened’ (Luke 11:9-10). By trusting in these promises and obeying thee commands, we can pray with confidence.” (Through Faith Alone  365 Devotional Readings from Martin Luther October 30)

As in everything in our relationship with God it is about Him guiding us in prayer, it is about Him leading us in everything. We can certainly lift up inspired, high prose in our prayer, but that’s not really the point. Often we would do well to wait in prayer for the Holy Spirit to move us to understand what we really should be praying for and get on God’s track for us instead of us trying to force our prayer and struggle. God truly is waiting to God us in all parts of our life. That is faith, trusting His leading instead of fussing about what we’re supposed to do.

Prayer, let’s be proactive.

Some great words of advice from Dr Martin Luther:

[from 1 Thessalonians  5:17-18]

It’s good to let prayer be the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night. Be on guard against false, deceitful thoughts that say, “Wait awhile, you can pray in an hour  First, you must finish this or that.” For with such thoughts, you turn away from prayer towards the business at hand which surrounds you and holds you back so that you never get around to praying that day.

Of course, some tasks are as good as or better than prayer, especially during an emergency   Nevertheless, we should pray continually   Christ says to keep on asking, searching and knocking (Luke11:9-11). And Paul says that we should never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Likewise, we should continually guard against sin and wrongdoing, which can’t happen if we don’t fear God and keep His commandments in mind at all times  in Psalm 1 we read, “Blessed is the person who reflects on His teachings day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2)

We shouldn’t neglect the habit of true prayer and get caught up in necessary work – which usually isn’t all that necessary anyway. We can end up becoming lazy about prayer, cold towards it and tired of it, but the devil doesn’t get lazy around us

(Martin Luther Through Faith Alone Aug 28)