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Archive for December 10th, 2019

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Psalm 86:11  (ESV)

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name.

The only time the disciples asked Jesus to teach them something, the topic was prayer (see Luke 11: 1).  Jesus sent the 12  out to preach the Gospel but He taught more on how to pray than how to preach!  The Psalmist prays that his heart, or will, be united to fear Your Name, in other words, to call upon the Lord in His steadfast love (see Ps. 86: 13, 15).  As Abraham Heschel pointed out that the purpose of prayer is not prayer but the LORD.  Jesus knew this in His earthly ministry. Preachers need prayer to preach God’s Word. God’s People need sermons to inspire their prayer life as prayer is the keeping of the first three commandments, especially the first one.  The first three commandments are summed up by the Lord, Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart.

The Sermon is part of the Divine Service, it is not a stand alone.  The Sermon, as the entire Service is the Word of God and should be.  Prayer  is not an adjunct to the Sermon it is the reason of the Sermon. Rabbi Abraham Heschel pointed this out:

Sermons indistinguishable in spirit from editorials in the New York Times, urging us to have faith in the New Deal, the Big Three or the United Nations, or attempting to instruct us in the latest theories of psychoanalysis, will hardly inspire us to go on to… (the last part of the Sabbath service) and to vow,

“Through all generations we will declare Thy greatness; To all eternity we will proclaim Thy holiness; Thy praise, our God, shall never depart from our mouth.”

Preach in order to pray. Preach in order to inspire others to pray. The test of a true sermon is that it can be converted to prayer.

Please note that this quote is from Heschel’s Quest for God:  Studies in Prayer and Symbolism, copyright 1954!  The type of sermon above I have heard in too Lutheran pulpits, left and right.  Sermons about contemporary events, usually along partisan political lines, not the Word of God and prayer.  We need to be taught as the Psalmist prayed, Teach me your way, O Lord.  As Jesus’ disciples knew. Note: the Lord wants us to pray as He inspired 150 prayers to form one whole book of prayer in the Bible, the Psalms.

Advent is a special time of prayer.  This world does not need more political, sociological, and churchly programs, of which we are swamped, it needs men and women of prayer, their hearts united within and amongst us, to pray, speak and live God’s Word made flesh, perfectly united in the sinless heart of Jesus Christ. Human programs are cheap, but with the promises of God fulfilled in His Christ, all things are possible, such as, prayer.

True prayer and the Word of God are one. Note that after the Apostle Paul encourages Christians to take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, what does he exhort us to do?

and take… he sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6: 17-18)

We are to be as disciples those being taught by the Lord. Pray the Psalms. Pray the Lord’s Prayer daily.  Pray Luther’s prayers in the Small Catechism.  Pray to the Lord to open our mouths to pray.

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Quote of the Day

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St. Ambrose, from a Sermon on Holy Baptism: “Why are you plunged into the water?  We read:  ‘May the waters bring forth living creatures (Gen 1:20).  And the living creatures were born.’  This happened at the beginning of creation.  But for you it was reserved that water should bring you forth to grace, as that other water brought forth creatures to natural life.  Imitate this fish, who has received less grace.”

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