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Posts Tagged ‘Exaudi’

Until now you have asked nothing in My Name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (St. John 16: 24)

The disciples’ joy is the joy of the Lord that He has made them His own. As He said, they did not choose Him, but He chose them.  They needed choosing, forgiving, redeeming.  Ask and you receive that your joy may not simply be but be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  The joy of the Lord is that one sinner repent, found and forgiven like one lost sheep of 99 found again.  The joy of the Lord is His grace, hidden from the wise and learned, is revealed to children and they understand. The joy of the Lord is He wants us to pray. Next to preaching the Word of God, the greatest service is praying which all Christians can do as they are baptized and believe.  He overcame the world which does not pray to the Lord but preys upon each other.

There are three legs of  prayer upon which prayer solidly rests are: God’s command, God’s promise and God’s Word. 

God’s command is the second commandment:Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.  

Dr. Luther teaches it clearly:

What does this mean?—Answer:   We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

From the beginning it is about the Name of the Lord, your God.  His Law is clear don’t use the Name for vain, that is, empty and arrogant ways. It is not making the sign of the Cross as one stands to bat in baseball to get a hit.  Yes, when we ask the Lord in  His Name, the Name of Jesus, it will be granted but it’s not magic, but faith. Faith is trust as an infant trusts that his parents will feed and protect him. The Lord commands us to pray for that is His gracious will for us all.    As a child calls upon her Father, she knows he will answer.  Prayer rests not upon the ups and downs of the human heart, but  is founded in the Name of the Lord.  Many talk about praying and then following the “leading of your heart”.  Don’t follow your heart. The Lord is clear from Genesis, it is corrupt.  Jesus said, Follow Me.  Ask.

Prayer is not a tit for tat thing: I pray, O God, now You pay.  It’s not pray and pay. That’s faithless and unloving and much what goes for prayer is just that:  see televangelists.  No child would do so, however wicked. It is using His name in vain; or to use His name in prayer to draw attention to one’s own piety and supposed goodness, seen by others, then one has their reward. But when you pray, go to your room shut the door and your Father who is in secret will reward you…He will reward you with Himself.

A particularly egregious example of the desire to be seen by others as a pious pray-er, from several years ago, a televangelist boasted that he prayed away a hurricane from Virginia Beach.  This prompted an article in the newspaper with several clergy, Christian and Jewish weighing in on  the question does God hear prayer and how does He answer.  One pastor wrote we really do not know what prayers the Lord will answer.  Yes, we do, beloved in the Lord!  His will to answer prayer is summed up in the prayer He taught His disciples, the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer. In fact, the Lord’s Prayer sums up His will. . Now we are at the second leg of prayer, His Promises all finding their yes in Jesus Christ who is the form of our prayer as He taught  and in all the Psalms:

  1. His Name be hallowed, made holy for us as we call upon in prayer, praise, thanksgiving and any kind of trouble. He invites us to use His Name, just not misuse or abuse His Name.
  2. His kingdom His reign be extended ever more to others and amongst us through the preaching and teaching of the Word and reception of the Sacraments.
  3. His will be done, which is Lord’s will that wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  4. Our daily bread, what we need day by day, food, clothing, shelter, friendship, family, good government, schools.
  5. Forgive us our trespasses, or debts, as our trespasses are forgiven in His Name.  His Name written in His blood upon the cross and so we forgive those indebted to us, who have trespassed against us as many as 7 times a day, no, said Jesus seventy times 7, always as we are asked, has He not had mercy on you?  He has!
  6. Lead us not into temptation, into trial, into the struggle to fall into the world, the flesh and the devil. As we are all tempted the Lord provides the way out, prayer,as He was tempted, He is not only our Lord but our brother who was tempted in every way we are but was without sin that we approach Him in free access through the Holy Spirit.
  7. Deliver us from evil and the Evil One who would prevent us from praying:  “Oh, I don’t have the time” “I am not as good as my born-again friend to pray” “I am not that spiritual” “I’ve tried and I don’t get a spiritual high like Sally does” “I have a hard time believing”.  The devil will throw that all at us.  And yet we sound so pious and spiritual by saying we are not pious and spiritual!  Does the devil really want you to pray to His Enemy above?   “But Christ wants you to pray.  You have His command and His promise.” (Luther)  Notice that all those concerns are devilish because they cast us down upon ourselves, our spirituality, works, merits but the Lord invites us in prayer, Lift up your hearts. hearts lifted to the Lord.                         I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
    2 My help comes from the LORD,
    who made heaven and earth.                                                                               
    Repentance is always turning to the Lord Who lifted your sin upon the cross and lifts you up to be His own. Don’t wait ever to pray because  evil lies in wait, the devil like roaring lion seeking someone to devour,  and the Lord waits and has waited on you in the service of His life, death and resurrection.

All of this is God’s promise and His promise is crystallized in His Word, clearly written, clearly spoken, clearly trustworthy and clearly Incarnate, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  God’s Word is the third leg of prayer.  His promises prayed in the Lord’s prayer and indeed in the 150 Psalms of the Psalter, Psalms, the longest book in the bible is prayer.  In fact, Psalms and Isaiah are the two most quoted OT books in the New Testament and Psalms from the get go of the Church became her prayer book:  still is. From whence comes our help, our help is in the Name of the Lord who made heaven and earth, as the psalmist prayed.  And the foundational word of God is His holy Name.

His Blood is the seal of His Name.  The Name of Jesus literally means:  “God saves”.  On the day of His circumcision Joseph and Mary publically announced the Name the messenger of God gave to Mary. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” Luke 1:30-32

In Romeo and Juliet asks, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Now that is good romantic stuff but I would rather name a daughter “Rose” than “Skunk” even though she would smell as sweet!  Names matter. They identify who one is.  I would dare say you would probably not buy designer clothes with the name, Ralph Lifschitz on it!  But when Mr. Lischitz changed his surname to “Lauren”, as in, Ralph Lauren, it sounded a whole lot better!    Names also matter to the Lord in His Scriptures.  His Name we can count on.  “He restores my soul.He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3   Many times the Lord tells us why He does what He does, not for my name’s sake or yours, but His.  His Name is faithfulness.  He stands behind it.  A name you can trust.  AS we pray, calling upon the Name of the Lord, this is the trustworthiness of His Name is crucial  when all other names, of government, business, stardom etc. fail.  In the Harry Potter books and movies, it becomes clear that evil is lying in wait, the dark lord who is called in the movies, “He Who Must Not Be Named”.  But evil must be named and even more: There is the Name that Must Be Named, Jesus Christ.  In His Name we pray and hope and wait.  Behind His Name is His Body and Blood.  He has made you His own by naming you in your baptism. and this is His joy for us all in His Name as we pray, confessing our sins, confessing His praise, confessing His Name.

There are three legs of  prayer upon which prayer solidly rests are:

God’s command, God’s promise and God’s Word, His Name.

The Lord gives us the Name which all in heaven and earth will bow down: Jesus.  Jesus tells His frightened apostolic flock in the night He was betrayed call upon my Name to the Father.  I will stand behind my Name as I go the Cross and when you see Me again.  My Name is your salvation.  My Name means I have overcome the world. I will go to the Cross not to wreak vengeance on sinners, as the world wills, but in the vindication of God’s grace for sinners to save you, for My Name’s sake, My Father wills.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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