7th Sunday in Easter
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
I have a very simple philosophy: what’s good enough for Jesus is good enough for me. I say this because we in this world have seemed to have forgotten about Jesus and his words to us. To truly be his disciples, we are to follow his teachings. When we fail to do this, we will not be recognized as belonging to him.
Case in point: Remember when people used to pray? I don’t just mean in church, but out in the world. People used to pray before every meal even if they were in a restaurant. People used to pray before sporting events and at public meetings. Remember that? It wasn’t frowned upon or made fun of, even the president of these United States would end an address with, “God bless America”.
What has happened to us? Unfortunately, the Devil has been working overtime in the hearts and minds of the people in this great land. Our great adversary has twisted our conscience bit by bit so that it is now considered an offense to non-believers or believers of other gods when we openly call upon His name.
This is the same old trick used by Satan but with a new coat of paint. It is still a useless lie it has always been; we have just forgotten his chicanery. Daniel had the same problem thousands of years ago. The Devil had warped the mind of King Nebuchadnezzar and his people and convinced them that whoever did not fall down and worship a golden image when told, would be ‘cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.’ [Daniel 3:11]
St. Peter also encouraged the faithful who had been scattered across Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia saying, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” [1 Peter 4:12]
Now we have yet to be physically persecuted but we are being persecuted just the same. We are being told that we cannot worship and pray to our God as we were told to do. The pagans, atheists and devil worshipers of our day and age are trying to shame us into silence. Little do they know that they are calling Christ into the minds of the people. Were some see persecution, I see opportunity. St. Peter continues,
“…if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” [1 Peter 4:16-17]
God wants to hear from His people so that he can bless us with his abundant mercy and grace. God wants to provide for our every daily need. God wants to let us know that he still loves us. He wants us to know that he loves us so much that he sent his only Son into the world to be made flesh, take on our sin, be crucified, die, and rise again from the tomb, so that whoever believes in Him will be saved.
Prayer, worship and praise of our Father in heaven is not contrived or made up by human minds, it is from God himself, practiced and commanded by Jesus Christ. St. Paul encourages us to be, “…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” [Eph 6:17a]
You may ask yourself, “Why do I need to pray? If God knows my every thought and my every need, why do I need to voice them to God?” We pray because Jesus commands us to follow His commandments and praying is one of them.
- We pray for His protection:
- We pray for His help:
- We pray for His blessing:
- We pray for forgiveness:
Christ used prayer to keep in contact with our Father in heaven. To him it was important.
- So He Himself withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. [Lk 5:16]
- Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. [Lk 6:12]
- Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. [Mk 1:35]
Jesus knew that our Father in heaven listens to our prayers. He prayed for himself in order that he may glorify the Father. We hear his prayer in our Gospel reading for today:
“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” [Jn 17:1-5]
The work he was to do was to redeem His people, all of us. By his sacrifice, we have been made righteous in the eyes of God. We are now holy once again through Jesus Christ. Through Christ, we are given the offer of eternal life with our Lord and Savior in His father’s house. This offer of eternal life is FREE!
Once His Holy Spirit enters our hearts, we become inheritors of His kingdom. This gift is guaranteed by our baptism and sealed with the blood of the Lamb. It cannot be revoked by any power in heaven, on earth or by the devil himself. The only way to lose this gift is for you to deny it. Yet do not fear. Even if you reject this free grace of salvation, the offer does not expire. It is available to you for your entire life.
Now how do we keep in touch with God? The same way people for thousands of years have been doing it and the same way Jesus did it – through prayer. We connect with our Lord and Savior through prayer. Not a day should pass without this communication with God.
Because Jesus believed in prayer to his Father and our Father in heaven, I begin my day in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I say the Apostles Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. I then pray for my family and friends, the congregations of whom I have been entrusted, the men and women missionaries in the field, the men and women of our armed forces, and finally for my own needs.
This sounds like quite a long list and to tell you the truth, sometimes I am called away from my prayers and I forget to finish them. It is only later in the day when I get a quiet moment and I realize I had not yet said, ‘Amen’. I then realize that all my sayings and doings of that day have been an open-ended prayer.
The Apostle Paul tells us to do the same when he wrote to the church of Ephesus. He instructs us to be ready to tell others of the Gospel and to constantly pray:
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—" [Eph 6:17-20]
The honorable Dr. Martin Luther put this in his small catechism:
- In the morning, as soon as you get out of bed, you are to make the sign of the holy cross and say: “God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit watch over me. Amen.”
- Then, kneeling or standing, say the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you wish, you may in addition recite this little prayer as well:
- “I give thanks to you, my heavenly Father through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me this night from all harm and danger, and I ask you that you would also protect me today from sin and all evil, so that my life and actions may please you completely. For into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.”
- After singing a hymn perhaps (for example, one on the Ten Commandments) [LSB 581] or whatever else may serve your devotion, you are to go to your work joyfully.
He also wrote a little prayer for the end of the day before you go to sleep, again asking for the Lord’s protection and forgiveness. In this way, we begin and end each of our days in prayer.
Yet we can do more than just pray at meal times and in the morning and evening. And with that statement, I encourage you all to live your lives in prayer, not just 45 minutes on Sunday morning, but every minute of every day. It is very simple. When you wake up in the morning say, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” and do not say Amen until you go to bed that night.
If you wish to pray for your own needs and/or the needs of others, feel free, but wait until the end of the day before you say ‘Amen’. You will be surprised of how you act and speak throughout the day, knowing that all you do is to the glory of God.
In this way, you will be in constant communication with our Father in heaven. I guarantee that He will listen to everything you say and that He will bless everything you do in His name.
For Jesus tells us:
“In that day you will ask in My name… for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world.” [Jn 16:26-28a]
Blessed be the name of Jesus Christ who has come into the world so that we may have eternal life. In His name I say, Amen.
 Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 363–364.