Explanation of the Week
The Lord does not to require us to ascend to Him; in mercy He descends to us (Gen 28:10-17). The ladder in Jacob’s dream was not for climbing; it was the means by which the Lord came to bless Jacob. This event finds its fulfillment in Christ who descended from His throne to save and bless us. By His incarnation He is the eternal bridge between heaven and earth. “The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (Matt 9:1-8). The Lord was present in the flesh to absolve the paralytic. Jesus also healed and restored this man’s body. “For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation” (Small Catechism). The Lord still has power on earth to forgive sins. For “God has given such power to men.” In holy absolution He raises up the new man (Eph 4:22-28) and bestows the healing medicine which will bring about our resurrection on the Last Day. Thus we say with Jacob, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
A Few Thoughts on Prayer
Prayer is a beautiful thing. Cognitively, I always knew this, and yet prayer has always been a difficult thing for many people, myself included. Prayer is one of those things that we all know we should do and yet we often fail to do it. How often have you said, or had someone say to you, “I’ll pray for you,” and then fail to do it? I’m ashamed to admit how often I have failed in this.
So, what is the fix? Well, I’ve tried doing two things, and I would encourage you to consider them.
First, I have stopped saying, “I’ll pray for you.” That doesn’t mean I won’t pray for you, instead, it means I try to say, “Let me pray for you,” and then pray right there. Nobody has said no yet.
Second, I have a regular set time for prayer. Now, I get it, I’m a pastor. I have set aside time during my office hours when I pray and I have lists of people whom I pray for. Not everyone will be able to do that. That has been really helpful though to think of a specific time or occasion for when I will intentionally pray for folks in the congregation and in the community. But it doesn’t have to be that formal. I know many people who pray while running or walking. I know others who will spend their windshield time praying. Maybe a helpful occasion to think of as a time of prayer is when you go to fire up the computer for working at home?
Who should we pray for? We should pray for ourselves. That might sound weird, but really we should. Think about the Lord’s Prayer. Many of the petitions are obviously prayers for ourselves. “Give us this day our daily bread… Forgive us… Lead us… Deliver us…”
We should also pray for our neighbors. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” (1 Timothy 2:1, ESV)
For what should we pray? There is a prayer guide you can download below to guide your prayers. Prayer can be simple words from the heart. Prayer can be reading through the guide below and praying for the things talked about in scripture. Prayer can be silent while meditating upon scripture. Prayer can be reading a prayer from a book like the Lutheran Book of Prayer. Prayer can be praying the Lord’s Prayer, after all, when God was asked how someone should pray, he gave us the exact words we can use to speak.
The point is, the form of a prayer is very flexible. God has knit each one of us differently. Some will really love written out prayers, others will enjoy quiet meditation on scripture, and others still will appreciate extemporaneous prayers. What is important is to develop prayer as a pious habit since God describes His people as a people of prayer.