The Fifth Sunday in Lent A

Two grieving sisters charge Jesus with this complaint.  Both Mary and Martha express their lament.  Each held that the presence of Jesus at their dying brother Lazarus’ bedside would have delivered a more positive outcome.  You and I know from the preamble to the story (Jn. 11:6) that Jesus delayed his travel to that bedside, ostensibly for the glory of God (Jn. 11:4).  That knowledge makes more poignant the lament raised by the two sisters, i.e., Jesus could have been there but chose not to.   The sisters’ lament, “Lord, if you had been here…” becomes our lament each time miraculous healing is not delivered… each time divine intervention is not forthcoming… each time God fails to respond to our most ardent supplications…. Each time we raise that lament, give voice to its complaint, our faith in our trustworthy God is challenged.  We come to wonder, “Where is my God in the midst of my affliction?”  That challenge has no answer except the Word of God… the Word of God which simply insists, “Trust me!”  That trust is re-established every time Jesus Christ is handed over to you at the pulpit, the font, and the altar.  There, the God who hides himself—even in the depths of our afflictions where he’s only apprehended by faith—there, God reveals himself in Jesus Christ who endured the glory of the cross for you… for you.

Prayers from one who often gives voice to his complaints against God’s hiddenness…

Heavenly Father, grant me faith in the face of Isaiah’s confession, “Surely you are a God who hides himself!”  Give me to know that you have revealed yourself in your Son, Jesus Christ my Lord.  Amen

Heavenly Father, as I raise my voice in complaint against your hiddenness give my complaint its answer in your Word handed over at the pulpit, the font, and the altar.  Amen

Heavenly Father, when I question your presence amidst my afflictions, give me such faith to apprehend the truth of Jesus’ declaration, “Lo, I am with you always.”  Amen

Heavenly Father, when my faith falters in the face of my God’s hiddenness, keep me in the company of saints so that the faith we share will bear me up and bring me back before the pulpit, font, and alter.  Amen

Heavenly Father, open my ears that I would hear your Word and trust that your Holy Spirit works faith in me… faith in Jesus Christ as the divine yet invisible and incomprehensible reality present to me beyond my senses and reason.  Amen

Heavenly Father, hold the Institute of Lutheran Theology to the preaching and teaching of Jesus Christ as the presence of this divine, invisible, and incomprehensible reality.  Amen

Heavenly Father, in these the days of my baptism, grant me the daily renewal of your mercies as day by day I take up your Word and it brings me to stand beneath its authority.  Amen

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The Fourth Sunday in Lent A

You’ve got to admire this formerly blind beggar’s spunk.  Here he is hauled before the religious authorities for a second time, facing their accusations, and risking the consequences…being cast out of the synagogue… and what does he do?  He does the first-century equivalent of mouthing off: “Do you also want to become his disciples?”  See, the Pharisees had a problem, a righteousness problem.  They figured they had a corner on it and wouldn’t stand for anyone else butting into their corner.  But that formerly blind beggar would not be cowed by their projected piety and, with his question, earned their revulsion.  Subsequently, they cast him out.  Challenging religious authorities carries risk no matter the generation.  They can be vindictively protective of their projected piety.  Yet, Jesus, the Word of God, comes with his true righteousness even to the religiously rejected… even to those who challenge displays of projected piety.

Prayers from one who hides his impiety behind displays of projected piety…

Heavenly Father, my true righteousness lies in Jesus Christ, grant that in him I have all the piety needed for life in this creation and the next, and that I receive him from the pulpit, the font, and the altar.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, my true righteousness lies in Jesus Christ, grant me to be secure in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and not cowed into seeking a righteousness of my own.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, my true righteousness lies in Jesus Christ, open my eyes to the blindness of the world even as you open my ears and end my own deafness so that I may hear your Word and, in turn, declare it before the world.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, my true righteousness lies in Jesus Christ, give me eyes to see the truth of my neighbors’ needs, ears to hear their laments, and hands set to work useful to them.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, my true righteousness lies in Jesus Christ, hold me in that true righteousness—the righteousness of faith in Christ—let me not look to the work of my hands to secure such righteousness.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, my true righteousness lies in Jesus Christ, grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology receive its true righteousness from its preaching and teaching of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, my true righteousness lies in Jesus Christ, keep me in that righteousness all the days of my baptism so that I eagerly and hopefully await his glorious appearing.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

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The Third Sunday in Lent A

Jesus speaks to this woman with an imperative.  He commands her.  She, in turn, is caught by surprise, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jn. 4:9).  The woman is right.  Jesus does break social convention:  a male Jew just didn’t initiate a conversation with a female Samaritan.  It was taboo.  Jesus, however, didn’t much care for protocol.  Manners and social convention get swept aside when it comes to matters of the kingdom… matters of the living water… water welling up to eternal life.  Protocol, manners, and social convention all fall under the heading of “tone”—that is, how we pitch our conversations to avoid the harsh realities between us and within us.  In most circumstances, “tone” helps us to move through our daily encounters without constant friction and confrontation.  In matters of the kingdom… in matters where Jesus is concerned… in those matters, confrontation is necessary.  The old sinner must be confronted with the harsh reality of its death in sin no matter how much the old sinner is offended by that confrontation.  Only the dead know the resurrection to eternal life.

Prayers from one whose old sinner is all too eager to complain, “tone,” whenever the harsh reality of being dead in sin becomes too offensive…

Heavenly Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive, so use your Word of Law and Gospel upon me that the full offense of my death in sin is revealed and I am delivered into the new life in Christ.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive, as the God of both my death and my life, grant to me the confidence to trust you and your Word, “He who believes in me will live, even if he dies.”  Amen

Heavenly Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive, put your Word in my ears that your Holy Spirit would work faith in my heart.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive, use me in these days of my baptism so that my neighbors benefit from your use of me.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive, use me to be the voice delivering the Word of your Kingdom into the ears of my neighbors so that they, too, would receive the living waters of Jesus Christ.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive, continue to lead the Institute of Lutheran Theology into a bold proclamation of your Word as Law and Gospel.  Amen

Heavenly Father, you are the God who kills and makes alive, during these days of my baptism continue working my death in sin and the being raised to new life upon me so that I would rest in the confidence of your mercies being new every morning.  Amen

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The Second Sunday in Lent A

Nicodemus just wants to make sense of it all.  This is his humanity speaking.  The mysteries of the faith confound human reason, drive us to seek understanding, and cause us to covet a resolution to our confusion.  In this manner, understanding contends with faith and its mysteries.  Understanding seeks resolution to the mysteries of faith while faith itself holds the mysteries, saying, “Trust me.”  Such trust comes hard for the old sinner in us.  Following the precedent set by Eve and Adam in their original sin, that old sinner in us continues to suspect God and distrust the mysteries of the faith, unless of course they can be explained, understood, or rationalized.  And so, with Nicodemus, we blurt out, “How can these things be?”  Confronted with the mysteries of the faith, mysteries like God’s election, the justification of the ungodly, the new life in Christ… the old sinner drives toward understanding them.  But faith?  Oh, faith finds its contentment as it seeks to stand under the authority of these mysteries, trusting in their reality even without explanation.

Prayers from one who’d seek to understand the mysteries rather than standing under the authority of the mysteries themselves…

Heavenly Father, your ways are not my ways, yet your ways benefit me by providing me with the gifts of Christ.  Help me to live under his authority and enjoy the forgiveness of sins in him, his salvation, and his life.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your ways are not my ways, grant me such faith that I would leave the mysteries to themselves without explanation while letting your Word have its way with me.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your ways are not my ways, as your Word has its way with me, give me the comfort of my election in Christ, the confidence that even though I remain ungodly nonetheless I am justified in Christ, and the certainty that the new life in Christ is mine even as all evidence points to the contrary.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your ways are not my ways, as I live out the new life in Christ that is mine through faith, so too grant that I provide those works necessary for my neighbors’ well-being and for the provision of their daily bread.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your ways are not my ways, as I set my hands to those works useful to my neighbors, hold me in such faith that those very works do not become my righteousness.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your ways are not my ways, hold the Institute of Lutheran Theology in the mysteries of faith, keeping Jesus Christ at the center of its teaching.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, your ways are not my ways, grant me to dwell in the mystery of faith that is my baptism into Christ.  As I live out these days between the sacramental death of my going down beneath the water and the Word and that day when I return to the dust from which I came… in these days, grant me to wait with patience for the glory of the Lord to appear.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.  Amen

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The First Sunday in Lent A

These words demand a certain exclusiveness, an exclusiveness the devil seeks to break.  To worship the Lord establishes the Lord as the sole recipient of our thanks and praise, our service and obedience.  But wait, there’s even more:  to worship the Lord also means that we look exclusively to the Lord for all those things we depend upon, things like our daily bread.  The devil contends for this dependence.  The devil comes to Jesus in the wilderness, tempting Jesus away from his exclusive dependency upon the Lord his God.  The devil confronts Jesus, contending for the provision of his daily bread… contending for his protection… and contending for his patronage—his worship.  The devil comes to you, too.  He comes in the wilderness of your days, those times, and those places where the Word of God seems but a dim echo in your ears… when the sacraments belong to a past growing ever more distant.  The devil is unrelenting in his contention to break your exclusive dependency upon the Lord your God… your Father in heaven… for his provision… for his protection… and for his worship.

Prayers from one in constant susceptibility to the contention brought by the devil, the world, and his sinful self against his Lord’s exclusive claim upon his worship…

Heavenly Father, you provide my daily bread.  Grant that I so trust in you that I do not succumb to the temptations of the devil, the world, or my sinful self.

Heavenly Father, you provide my daily bread.  Grant that I trust your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, to be my bread come down from heaven, so that he is daily bread for my life in the new creation.

Heavenly Father, you provide my daily bread.  Grant that I so live from the new creation in Jesus Christ that I can forgive my neighbors when they prove unhelpful in my quest for daily bread.

Heavenly Father, you provide my daily bread.  Grant me to trust your provision for my needs so that I do not steal, lie, or try to deceive as I deal with my neighbors to receive what you provide.

Heavenly Father, you provide my daily bread.  Grant to me such trust in you that I engage my callings dutifully, fulfill my vocations rightfully, and, in that interconnected web of callings and vocations, receive the bread I need for life in this world and the next.

Heavenly Father, you provide my daily bread.  Grant that same provision to the Institute of Lutheran Theology so that it would be fruitful in its mission.

Heavenly Father, you provide my daily bread.  Grant that the days of my baptism overflow with such provision so that out of that abundance generosity would overflow, blessing my neighbors with daily bread for this world and the next.

Into your hands, heavenly Father, I commit all for which I pray, coming to you in the name of your Son, my Lord Jesus.  Amen

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The Transfiguration of Our Lord A

When Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured before them… when they were enveloped in the cloud and Moses and Elijah made their appearance… when the voice came down:  God himself speaking…  when confronted with the divine presence… these three disciples assumed the traditional posture of worship—that is, they put their faces to the ground, right in the dust.  Perhaps they even tasted of their personal mortality.  Into that fear and mortality, Jesus speaks.  He speaks to them, “Have no fear,” establishing them in a new reality, a new reality in which they had no cause to fear either the divine or their death.  So, too, you when you come into the divine presence in the sanctuary of your church building.  There, the mortality that all sinners… all humanity… receive because of that ancient curse (Ge. 2:17) is imposed upon you by that divine presence speaking through the mouth of your preacher.  You have good reason to be humbled and afraid.   Yet, your good Lord does not confine or desert you in the reality of that humility and fear.  He speaks to you, again through the mouth of your preacher, telling you, “Rise, have no fear.  I have redeemed you” (Mt. 17 & Is. 43).

Prayers from one who would really rather not have to undergo the fear and humility of mortality but still senses and knows there is no redemption without it…

Heavenly Father, you speak two words to sinners—one of Law and one of Gospel.  Grant that each of them will accomplish their appropriate work upon me… the Law to kill and the Gospel to make alive.

Heavenly Father, you speak two words to sinners, grant that I hear your Word of Law and stand beneath its accusation and am convicted of my guilt so that I am driven to my mortality and cry out, “Lord, have mercy!”

Heavenly Father, you speak two words to sinners, grant that I hear your Word of Gospel and rise upon its promise of a reality where my sins are forgiven, my guilt relieved, and my mortality overcome so that I cannot help but cry out, “Thanks be to God!”

Heavenly Father, you speak two words to sinners, grant that my life is so ordered by your Word of Law that I am kept within the boundaries of family, community, and nation.

Heavenly Father, you speak two words to sinners, grant that my life is so restored by your Word of Gospel that I act out of the same love you have shown me.

Heavenly Father, you speak two words to sinners, grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology is upheld in its teaching of your Word as Law and Gospel in the person of Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, you speak two words to sinners, grant that I continue under the authority of your two Words of Law and Gospel, so I await your Son’s coming in glory with faith and hope.  Amen

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The Sixth Sunday After Epiphany A

Four times in this passage before us, Jesus repeats the formula: “You have heard it said…, but I say to you….”  Jesus calls up two vital commandments:  the one against murder (vs. 21-26) and the one against adultery (vs. 27-30).  He also calls up two other rules important to the religious elite of his day:  the one permitting divorce (vs. 31-32) and the one against swearing falsely (vs. 33-37).  Jesus treats those commandments and rules with a rather dismissive “You have heard it said…” almost as if they were rumors or gossip.  What Jesus dismisses is the assumption that outward behavior fulfills the commandment or the rule while the affections of the heart can remain unchanged.  To those whose heart wasn’t in it regarding their outward behavior, Jesus delivers the “But I say to you…”  Jesus’ preaching during what we have come to call his Sermon on the Mount intensifies the Law’s ethical demands.  Jesus makes the demands so great that sinners cannot meet them… and that is our bondage.  Jesus has delivered the Law in such a way that we sinners can have no hope of fulfilling it.  The Law demands us to be something we cannot be in our sinful and broken condition; the Law demands that we be holy and righteous, not merely in our behavior, but in our hearts as well.  Only the new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) has a holy and righteous heart.  While the flesh still adheres to you… while you still possess a mortal body… while you walk in the days of your baptism… that holy, righteous, and clean heart belongs safely and only to Jesus Christ.

Prayers from one who is so bound in sin that he likes to imagine that his own heart is holy and righteous…

Holy Father, deliver Jesus Christ to me so that my bondage to sin is broken and, as he comes to be my life, I receive his holy, righteous, and clean heart.  Father, hear me!

Holy Father, deliver Jesus Christ to me so that, on those occasions when I get to thinking that I myself possess a holy and righteous heart, I am repented, exposed as dead in my sin, and receive Christ as my life once again.  Father, hear me!

Holy Father, deliver Jesus Christ to me in such a way that faith is engendered, and I come to trust the righteousness I receive from you through Jesus Christ rather than the righteousness I achieve for myself.  Father, hear me!

Holy Father, deliver Jesus Christ to me so that my callings and vocations do not become distractions from my piety but remain as those various places where you send me for the exercise of the righteousness you’ve provided me.  Father, hear me!

Holy Father, deliver Jesus Christ to me in the unexpected places of family and work where I receive the forgiveness of my sins from the lips of my closest neighbors.  Father, hear me!

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The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany A

Perhaps you’ve heard of this strategy:  Lowering expectations and so increasing the chances of success.  That’s exactly what Jesus refers to as he teaches during his Sermon on the Mount.  Perhaps he is looking directly at the Pharisees when he says this.  They were frequent practitioners of lowered expectations when it came to the Law, reducing it to manageable demands for those who had wealth and leisure.  These lowered expectations provided them with greater opportunity for successfully obeying the Law.  Consider their lowered expectation regarding divorce.  They lowered the expectation of successful obedience as “no divorce” period to the standard which Moses gave them:  a husband could divorce his wife with a writ and still be acting lawfully.  Jesus rejected that teaching: “He said to them, Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so” (Mt. 19:8).  Jesus’ accusation has come down to us:  What laws are relaxed by us in order that we can fulfill those laws?  But then, because we no longer bear the guilt of failure, we think we don’t need as much of Jesus’ forgiveness.  Isn’t it better to let Jesus be the majestic Lord and Savior rather than us trying to reduce our guilt through manipulating the Law?

Prayers from one who is all on board with lowered expectations…

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that the Law’s demands would order my life and all creation during these days when my life and all creation are so broken by sin that they will not be ordered by love.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that the Law never stops pursuing me with its accusation… grant that I am kept from relying on my own fulfillment of the Law… grant that I rely solely on Jesus’ perfect fulfillment of the Law.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that the Law finally establish me in its reality:  I am dead in my sin.  Grant those dead ears of mine to be filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ who’s come to be the life of dead sinners.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that, if I cannot love my neighbors as I ought, I still serve them out of obedience to the Law.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that my neighbors, too, be well-ordered by the Law so that my life in this creation will be protected and peaceable.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology recognizes its obligations under the laws and regulations of those bodies that govern it and that it strives to fulfill those obligations.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father Divine, the Law remains in full force until heaven and earth pass away, grant me the ears to hear your Word, Jesus Christ, as he speaks to me during these days of my baptism and as he calls me forth out of the dust from which I came.  Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant to the Institute of Lutheran Theology an ongoing proclamation of your Word so that it, too, would bring your kingdom among us.  My Lord, make it so!

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant me such certainty of your kingdom’s presence come to me that, even when my thinking, feeling, and doing contradict its presence, I return again and again to hear your Word and receive your Sacraments which restore my faith that your kingdom is indeed present.  My Lord, make it so!

To you, Father, I pray, confident that you hear me and will indeed make it so.  Amen

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The Fourth Sunday After Epiphany A

Matthew 5:1-12

vs3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

vs10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

As Mary’s Magnificat indicated, the arrival of the Christ and the kingdom of heaven with him turns the geographical landscape and human expectations topsy-turvy.  These beatitudes concern the kingdom and the conditions within it.  They are framed between two beatitudes of the kingdom, vs. 3 & vs 10.  Luther knew the kingdom of God operated by faith rather than by sight when he wrote, “God receives none but those who are forsaken, restores health to none but those who are sick, gives sight to none but the blind, and life to none but the dead… He has mercy on none but the wretched and gives grace to none but those who are in disgrace” (WA1, p.183f).

These Beatitudes reverse the expectations of the world, here those expectations are overturned verse-by-verse…

Vs. 3–Not the spiritually successful but the spiritually poor.
Vs. 4–Not those celebrating their gains but those mourning their losses. 
Vs. 5–Not those with reason to be boastfully proud but the meek. 
Vs. 6–Not those who possess righteousness but those with the deepest longing for the righteousness that comes to them from the heart of God. 
Vs. 7–Not those who have no need of mercy but those whose only option is to be merciful. 
Vs. 8–Not those whose heart still belongs to themselves but the one whose heart consists solely of the life of Christ. 
vs. 9–Not those who ration the peace brought by the forgiveness of sins but those who propagate the family of God. 
Vs. 10–Not those promoting their own righteousness but those despised by the world for having the righteousness of Christ.

This kingdom does not yet possess the glory of sight but remains known only in Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone.

Prayers from one who is quite familiar and comfortable with the expectations of the world and who possesses more than a little fear about overturning those expectations…

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant to me such faith in Christ that my fears of losing the world’s expectations and having a life under your ways are alleviated.  My Lord, make it so!

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, turn me from… repent me of… looking to the world’s expectations in order to know what to expect in your kingdom for you have prepared things no eye has seen… no ear heard… no mind imagined… all for the delight of those who come into it.  My Lord, make it so!

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant to me the joy of publishing abroad the good news of your kingdom’s arrival in the gospel of Jesus Christ so that all who hear receive the forgiveness of their sins.  My Lord, make it so!

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant me neighbors who are unafraid to speak the forgiveness of sins to me so that I, too, would be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven.  My Lord, make it so!

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant me such gladness in the coming of your kingdom to me that my labor on behalf of my neighbor’s needs overflows spontaneously from that gladness.  My Lord, make it so!

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant to the Institute of Lutheran Theology an ongoing proclamation of your Word so that it, too, would bring your kingdom among us.  My Lord, make it so!

Father in Heaven, your ways are not the world’s ways, grant me such certainty of your kingdom’s presence come to me that, even when my thinking, feeling, and doing contradict its presence, I return again and again to hear your Word and receive your Sacraments which restore my faith that your kingdom is indeed present.  My Lord, make it so!

To you, Father, I pray, confident that you hear me and will indeed make it so.  Amen

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The Third Sunday After Epiphany A

Matthew 4:12-25

“And he [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease…” (Mt. 4:23). 

Of first importance here is “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom….”  In the course of Jesus’ ministry, this good news of the kingdom became overshadowed by the miracles worked by Jesus—the healings, the casting out of demons, the feedings, etc.  Jesus, though, never ceased to preach the good news of the kingdom of God.  He never ceased commanding the people’s repentance—that is, for them to receive the kingdom as here and now rather than far off and future.  Jesus himself embodied the presence of the kingdom.  All those miracles which so attracted the people were themselves a witness to the kingdom’s presence… evidence of the wholeness and salvation within it.  Jesus would express frustration over the people’s inability to repent… to look beyond the miracles and behold the kingdom, e.g., “You are seeking me… because you ate your fill of the loaves…” (Jn. 6:26).  While our flesh still adheres and we remain sinners, Satan’s accusation against Job—Is it for nothing that Job fears God? (Jb.1:9)—is his accusation against us as well.  Time after time, we prove Satan true:  We love the benefits of loving God… of fearing God… of worshiping God.  As for God himself?  Not so much.

Prayers from one who loves God’s benefit plan but must confess some trouble in loving God himself…

Heavenly Father, your kingdom comes without my praying for it, grant me to hear rightly your Son’s proclamation of it… that it has come also to me, right here and right now.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your kingdom comes without my praying for it, grant that you draw me into Jesus Christ, the love of God, so that even my unfaithfulness is covered over by his faithfulness.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your kingdom comes without my praying for it, grant me such a life of faith that I would live out of the reality of your kingdom’s presence, knowing the healing and wholeness that I have there.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your kingdom comes without my praying for it, repent me of my fervent desire to advance the kingdom by my own understanding or effort which makes my neighbors mere implements of my plan.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your kingdom comes without my praying for it, turn me to the one thing available for me to do in advancing your kingdom and that is the preaching of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone handed over to be the life of dead sinners.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your kingdom comes without my praying for it, look upon the Institute of Lutheran Theology, which you have first called forth and then sent out, keep it true to its mission of preaching Christ.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Heavenly Father, your kingdom comes without my praying for it, so hold me in the promises of my baptism that I await with patience and anticipation that great and glorious day of my Lord when he is manifest in all his glory.  Do not let me seize after my glory prematurely.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

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