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Lord's Prayer Journal

“Prayer is a very precious medicine, one that helps and never fails.” - Martin Luther

The Routine of Prayer

Many people have a routine for prayer. This routine will likely include prayer before meals and utilizing a personal devotional like Portals of Prayer. Others will have no daily routine but find themselves often in prayer in times when in need of comfort, relief, aid, or offering thanksgiving to the Lord.

There is also in the Divine Service multiple opportunities for prayer. This corporate prayer is often spoken by the pastor. The Prayer of the Day summarizes the theme of the day and the Prayer of the Church gathers the prayers of the people.

You are invited to form a routine of personal prayer with trust that your Father desires to hear from you.

The Posture of Prayer

There are many different body motions we may make to prepare ourselves to be in holy conversation with our Lord God. No matter what posture you may use, make time to be in prayer. Consider if a particular posture may help prepare you for that holy conversation, if so then use it.

When growing up did you kneel beside your bed with your parents to say night time prayers? Do you hold hands during meal time prayers? Do you get down on your knees when you pray? Do you close your eyes?

You might be familiar with the Minnesota State Photograph "Grace." You may not have known it as the official state photograph of Minnesota, but the image will be familiar. Eric Enstrom, around 1920, took a picture of a white-bearded visitor to his studio in Bovey.

Consider how this man’s posture prepared his spirit to give thanks.

The Content of Prayer

In a variety of forms prayer includes adoration, confession and trusting in God’s forgiveness, petition, intercession, and contemplation.

Prayer begins with God’s invitation.

“Lord, it is your will and command that we should come to you and pray. So I now come to please you. I ask you to forgive and to remove my sins which weigh heavily upon me. Let them not prevent me from coming to you in prayer. Amen.” (written by Martin Luther)

How to use this prayer guide

You are invited to find a place of prayer. This place does not need to be a formal location or physically defined. More importantly find a quiet place with as few distractions as possible.

The motions of hands and mind together may help you bring focus to your time in prayer. Consider using your hands:

  • to receive God’s promises (with hands turned palm upward and placed near your stomach),

  • to send your petitions up to him (with hands turned palm upward with movement from stomach up towards the sky),

  • and to throw away your distractions (hands in movement away from stomach as if pushing something heavy out of your space).

Paul says, “through him (Jesus) we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18). You have no right in yourself to come to God but you are able to do so through Jesus and in His name. Jesus removed the barrier between us and God through His death on the cross.

This prayer journal will follow the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer. Contemplate the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer with your mind and body united in prayer.

Consider using some scrap paper throughout this prayer guide to journal your thoughts and prayers.

“Our Father who art in heaven”

God will meet you where you are weak and incapable. He is your Father and tenderly invites you to trust in him.

Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”

Please spend some time thanking God for who He is and consider the relationship that you have with him.

“Hallowed be Thy name”

In Hebrew a name signified a revelation of that person’s character. To pray that God’s name would be holy is to pray that His character would be revealed. The nature and purpose of God may be dishonored in the world around us. Many may pay no attention to him, but God’s name is holy regardless of this dishonoring. We pray that in our own lives He would be known.

Pray that the name (character and purpose) of God would be revealed in your church and in the society around you.

Isaiah 42:5-6 - Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:

I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations,

“Thy kingdom come”

The kingdom of our Lord will come whether I ask for it or not. But we desire that this kingdom would be built in us and around us. By the power of God’s holy word the Holy Spirit builds the kingdom in our lives and in our society. The Word of God is a living book that transforms.

Offer up to the Lord petitions, supplications, intercessions and thanksgivings of His Word working in your life and society His peace, justice and compassion.

Psalm 143:6-8 - I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me, or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit. Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust.  Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Again like the previous petition we remember that the will of our Father in heaven happens whether we ask for it or not.

Many people are worried by decisions they must make.

Pray that your will would be conformed to the will of the Lord. Our will compared with the will of the Lord is not good but continually evil.

Therefore we pray, “Be merciful to me, dear Father, and let nothing be done according to my will. Help me to humbly trust thy will be done.”

Acts 17:28 “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’”

“Give us this day our daily bread”

Your Father is concerned about everything that you are concerned about and so He wants to hear about what you are concerned about. Parents desire that their children come to them and ask them about anything they are worried about. Your Father cares about you and desires to provide for you.

It is not wrong to pray about your own concerns, provided that God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will is the first priority.

Ephesians 5:29-30 “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.”

Pray for both your physical and spiritual needs. Trusting all things you need into the hands of the Lord.

“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

By the cross of Jesus Christ our past, present, and future sins find forgiveness in His atoning sacrifice. But every day we tarnish the treasure of this gift by our sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. As we find forgiveness in Jesus Christ we trust that He will give us the strength to forgive those who trespass against us.

In prayer confess to the Lord sins that weigh heavy on your heart. Trust in His love and forgiveness. You need not doubt His love for you. You need only look to the cross and know that your sins are forgiven.

After confessing your sins to the Lord read this passage from St. Peter and trust that your sins have been washed clean.

1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

“And lead us not into temptation.”

God does not tempt us, but He is in control of how much we are exposed to the devil. Consider Job and how the Lord allowed Satan to work against Job.

Every person has an “Achilles’ heal,” a weakness. Pray to God for your protection trusting that it is only by His strength that you will persevere.

“Preserve us from the forces of the devil. Let us not sanction pride, our own pleasures, and other detractions, for the sake of riches, fame, power, skill, popularity, or any other gift of yours. Guard us against yielding to hatred and envy for any cause. Preserve us now and until our last moment from following the disputes of faith and the despair that follows. Amen” (Martin Luther)

2 Samuel 22:37  “You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”

“But deliver us from evil.”

This petition is a summary of the Lord’s work in our lives. By faith we hold onto Jesus Christ as our victory and when our last hour comes we will know His love face-to-face.

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

God has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Pray with thanksgiving that the Lord delivers you from evil and that by faith you will be judged righteous. Pray for opportunities to declare the praises of Him.

“For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever and Ever. Amen.”

Conclude your prayer time receiving from God His good news. He has done all in Jesus Christ is because He loves you, though we in no way will ever deserve these gifts. This is most certainly true.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

Marriage and Divorce

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I am getting ready to teach in a couple of weeks what Jesus teaches about lust, marriage, and divorce because we will study Matthew 5:27-30. In this section of Matthew, Jesus reveals God's intention that his people lead a life of purity that begins in the heart and extends out to relationships with others. A life of purity is not just about avoiding external actions but also includes understanding the dangers of internal sinful desires. 

Internal and External Sins Matter to God

Throughout the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said... But I say to you..." Jesus points out that sin is not just defined by our external actions but is born in the sinful flesh found in our hearts and desires.  God desires our desires and actions to be in alignment with the will of God. God does not celebrate and rejoice in hypocrisy that outwardly shows purity but internally rots us to the core. 

God Offers Forgiveness

So the truth is that as much as I can for a time control my outward actions, my own heart's sins and struggles reveal the poverty of my spirit. I need my savior. Thankfully the Bible teaches that there is full and free forgiveness received by all who repent of their sins and put their trust in God's Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:8-9). 

God Desires Purity in His Disciples

God desires purity inside the hearts and outside in actions. God prohibits divorce, with some exceptions that will be described below. God also prohibits sexual relationships outside of marriage. 

Adultery and Abandonment

Scripture uses absolute language in regards to divorce. Divorce brings damage to a family that ripples through society. Jesus does allow for the possibility of divorce when adultery is committed. Jesus said in Matthew 19:9, "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." Jesus does not require divorce in this situation. In some cases through repentance and forgiveness couples are able to overcome immorality.

St. Paul also writes about divorce and marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. St. Paul says that divorce may happen to a Christian whose unbelieving spouse leaves. In a fallen world adultery and abandonment happen, sinners are going to sin. We can try to mask our past sins and self-justify our actions, but the truth is that sin is damaging to what God has designed to be beneficial. Recently, I have discussed with many pastors about how we can understand St. Paul's words about abandonment in the context of domestic violence. A man or a woman that violates marital vows with threats and actions has abandoned the marriage.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod also has published a document, Divorce and Remarriage: An Exegetical Study, which will be helpful to a person that wants to do more scriptural study on what the Bible has to say about divorce and people seeking remarriage.

What about Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence corrupts the intimacy and trust of relationships. 

The LCMS Domestic Violence and Abuse Task Force has prepared helpful resources that should be utilized in congregations to make sure no one feels abandoned or alone or resigned to forever experience abuse. One of the documents prepared includes, When Homes are Heartless: An LCMS Perspective on Domestic Violence, in which there is recognition that abuse can irreparably harm a marriage.

So, while the Church can and should continually reach out with the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins to the abuser, it must do so with the recognition that this does not automatically and, frequently, may not ever result in marital reconciliation and restoration. As noted above, abuse may constitute a circumstance in which the Church acknowledges the tragic necessity of divorce. Christians can and should never glibly accept divorce and, indeed, must oppose our culture’s easy peace with it. Yet, wherever divorce occurs, those who suffer it are not to be driven away, but ever drawn toward Christ and His mercies. That is even more the case when one who has suffered divorce has done so rather than to suffer violence against her life.

Can a divorced person be forgiven and remarry?

Repentance and forgiveness is necessary when sin has broken a relationship. Divorce for unscriptural reasons, and remarriage involving such persons, is contrary to God's will. No matter how heinously a person has sinned, Jesus atoned for all sin, also for the sin of adultery. Where sin abounds, grace can abound even more (Romans 5:20).

Divorced persons and people seeking to remarry should demonstrate a contrite heart and a desire to receive forgiveness and restoration.  As absolute as Scripture is about divorce, the Bible also confidently speaks about the power of Jesus to bring forgiveness and restoration into the kingdom of heaven. Where reconciliation and restoration of a broken marriage is not possible, remarriage becomes a possibility. These situations require unique pastoral care as we apply God's condemnations of sin and God's promise of delivering forgiveness of sins into the world through Jesus Christ.

More information about LCMS positions on family, marriage, and sexuality can be found on the FAQ page of the LCMS.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

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