Prayer: The Required Grace…?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 Just as [under] shorts fit tightly around the waist, so I intended all the people of Israel and Judah to hold tightly to me. I did this so that they would be my people and would bring praise and honor to my name; but they would not obey me.” Jeremiah 13:11 (TEV)
To pray, as the Second Commandment teaches, is to call upon God in every need. This God requires of us; he has not left it to our choice. It is our duty and obligation to pray if we want to be Christians, just as it is our duty and obligation to obey our fathers and mothers and the civil authorities. By invocation and prayer the name of God is glorified and used to good purpose. This you should note above all so that you may silence and repel any thoughts that would prevent or deter us from praying. (1)
For those familiar with Luther, and the Lutheran understanding of Law and Gospel, the words in blue may sound strange and confusing. This sounds like a harsh use of the law, something that would lead to condemnation, something that is so demanding that all it can lead to is guilt and shame.
For many do not pray as they should! It is overlooked, dismissed as activities that are based in pietism. And if these words were not in Luther’s Large catechism they would be dismissed. Instead, I think they are simply ignored.
There is a part of us, the part that doubts God is listening, that doubt God cares, that finds prayer, whether prayers laying burdens down or hearing from God as we listening in prayer, as we meditate on His word, as burdensome and boring. We see them as something that saints might do, but by no means required beyond the prayers that are read at church.
Luther realized the necessity (so did Melanchthon – see his comments in Article XIII of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession! ) of prayer. But that necessity isn’t borne just of pleasing God. God didn’t commission us to use His name just so He would be glorified. The glory comes when we respond to His hearing, to His answering the prayer. Praise issues from our lips when we realize the comfort and peace the world cannot give, the comfort and peace that is possible only as we realize the merciful serenity that can be experienced in the presence of almighty God.
It is the answer to the cry of our heart that brings us to worship. This is why prayer is a requirement – because we need this means of grace, we desperately need what it delivers.
It is serendipitous (always wanted to use that word) that on the day I encounter Luther’s words, I encounter the words of the prophet Jeremiah. For indeed God wants us to know how close to us He is, how close to Him we are! This is the life of prayer – to cling to God like we are his underwear, as bizarre as that metaphor sounds! (and oh the comments that could be made…)
We need to be that close, we have to, in order to survive mentally, spiritually, even physically. For our life begins to spiral out of control as we separate ourselves from our Lord who is our life. We replace knowing God with knowing about Him, then we replace that knowledge with our own speculation and desires, as we make an idol in our image.
Cling to God, stalk Him, be persistent, wrestle with Him.
For He is our God, our Father.
And a great place to begin is with this little prayer of St Josemaria…..
383 Dear Jesus, I do want to correspond to your Love, but I am so feeble. With your grace, I will know how to! (2)
(1) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 421). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
(2) Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1501-1503). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on June 28, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Martin Luther, st josemaria escriva, Theology in Practice and tagged Abiding in Christ, grace, law and gospel, Martin Luther, peace, prayer, Serenity. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.