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Posts Tagged ‘the Our Father’

 

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.

Then!  When?  After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, after the Voice  speaking from above had said:  This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well please (Matthew 3: 17).  And since he did everything in order to teach us, and suffered everything for the same reason, so here also He willed to be led by the Spirit into the desert, to meet the devil in combat, and so that no one should be shocked if, after receiving baptism, he suffers even severer temptations: as though something strange had happened; but that he may learn to stand firm and endure with fortitude what happens according to the ordinary rule of our life.

This is the reason you received arms; not to stand at ease, but to fight. And God will not prevent temptations from rushing against you.

  1. And this first that you may learn how stronger you are now than before.

  2. Then that you learn prudence; so as not to be overbold because of the greatness of the gifts you have received: for temptation will steady you.

  3. Thirdly, so that the evil demon, who is uncertain whether you have renounced him or not, may not be left in doubt, through this test of temptation, that you have abandoned him, and wholly renounced him.

  4. Fourthly, that you may become stronger, and more tempered than steel.

  5. And fifthly, that you may receive a kind of indication of how precious is the treasure you have been given. For the devil would not have attacked you had he not seen you now held in honor. It was because of this he attacked Adam, because he saw he was given great dignity. For this reason he attacked Job, because he saw him raised up and honored by the God of all. It was because of this He Himself says: Pray that ye enter not into temptation (Mt. xxvi.41)•

  6. For this reason the Evangelist speaks of Jesus as, not going, but as being led; and this was according to the design of our salvation: implying that we are not as it were to leap into temptation, but, if we are led there, to stand firm against it. And consider where it was the Spirit led Jesus. Not into a city, nor into the market place, but into the desert. For since He wished to attract the evil spirit, He gives him occasion, not alone from his hunger, but also from the place. For then especially will the devil attack us, when he sees us alone and separated from each other. It was in this way he attempted the woman in the beginning: approaching as she was alone, and her husband absent. For when he sees us in the company or others, and united, he does not dare attack us. For this special reason should we ‘come frequently together’ (cf. Hebrews 10:25): so that I it shall be more difficult for the  devil to attack us.

  7. And I add a seventh teaching the Lord imparts through temptation.  It is related to #6:  others have been there and been tempted.  You can seek out a friend in Christ to tell of your struggle. And you can help a brother or sister in Christ when they are tempted.  Temptation occurs more frequently when alone as St. John Chrysostom points out, but we are part of Christ’s Church.  We ask the brothers and sisters to pray, not only when sick, but when the evil one is doing his worse.  And in the midst of this communion of prayer, at the center is the Lord Himself, who has been here and been tempted, and so,
    For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

and

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.1Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
 
8.  And one more teaching:  the importance of the teaching of Holy Scripture.  When Jesus is tempted, three times He quotes the Bible and three times He said, “It is written…”.  Nowadays, He could be charged with being a fundamentalist and so be it.  Jesus, in the flesh, needed the sure Word of the Bible, and so do we.  We learn this in temptation as well, as Jesus taught, “Lead us not into temptation…”.

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There are 7 petitions in the Lord’s Prayer which the Lord has taught us.  The petitions are definite:  The Lord’s Name, His Kingdom, His Will, Our daily bread, Our Trespasses, Our lives prevented from temptation, Our deliverance from the evil one. The first three petitions correspond with the first table of the Law, God’s relation with us, love of the Lord,  vertical in dimension.  The second 4 petitions, our relations with each other, love of the neighbor, horizontal in dimension, corresponds with the 2nd Table of the Law.  The first three petitions’ dominant pronoun is “Thy” and second four “ours” and “us’, and always in that order:  Thy and us.  The Lord has given us His Name, His Kingdom, or reign, His Will as His Church’s backbone so that we can live in the world and in the world to come. The church backbone is Jesus Christ so His Church, His Body, His temple may serve the Lord and neighbor, steadfast, not swept away by every wind of doctrine. His vertebrae is as firm as the Cross:  atonement for sin, reconciling God and man, and His arms reaching out for all men to the ends of the earth. In this world, the Lord knows we need our daily bread, our sins forgiven, our souls prevented from temptation and our soul and body delivered from evil and the evil one.  He has shown us the way we are to live in the 10 commandments, all that He given us in the Apostles’ Creed so be His people,  and now the need to pray in the way of Jesus Christ, life of all the living,  as our help and stay. 

The longest book in the Bible is Psalms.  Psalms are prayers.  It is in the middle of the Bible.  Here doctrine takes wing.  “You took the words right out of my mouth”.  “God takes the initiative and puts into our mouths the very words we are to use.” (Luther).  Lord we  can take the words right out of Your mouth.  You have taught us to pray.  You have given us Your words to pray and Your Word that You hear the prayer of faith.  O Lord, You have prayed, not in heaven, but upon the earth, in the world turned against you.  O Lord, the only begotten Son of the Father as a true man, You were tempted in every we are, knowing the darkness of the evil one.  You hungered for daily bread, needing every Word of God as bread. You called upon Your Father for His will to be done, that is the sin of the world to be taken away in Your sinless body for us and for our salvation. You prayed to Your Father in heaven so that we can pray, Our Father who art in heaven. You O Jesus are our prayer.  The Lord’s Prayer is the Gospel.  

Billy Joel wrote a song, Second Wind and it has this interesting lyric:

You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes
But they’re the only things that you can truly call your own

As in our trespasses, our temptations.  The Lord who has forgiven us nailed to the Cross took upon Himself what  He did not own: our trespasses and made them His own, all of them.  We can own up to what we owe the Lord because of His loving kindness, as we turn to Him day by day.

 

In another sense, Mr. Joel was wrong in his assertion that mistakes or trespasses are the only things we can truly call our own.  We can call bread, what we need to live, as our own, our daily bread, our own.  Dad and Mom make a living, buy a house, pay for the food. Their children, who have not paid a dime for any of it, still can call it our house, our table, our home.  Our own.  So also our Father in heaven gives us our daily bread as our own.  He gives us His every word as our daily bread, our own.  He has given us forgiveness and in that forgiveness, by grace as a gift, that we are His own. He has given us His own Son so that we may pray, Our Father Who art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name.  Amen.

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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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