Epaphras Prayer Letter

The Epaphras Prayer Letter encourages people to support the Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT) through their prayers. The Apostle Paul named Epaphras, saying of him, "He is always wrestling in prayer for you..." (Col.4:12). The letter comes out every week. ILT makes it available on its website and through email subscription. Each letter contains an inspirational thought and several prayer concerns for you to pray in support of ILT and its mission—to raise up faithful preachers and teachers of Jesus Christ and him crucified.

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Monday Morsels

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of October 19, 2020

Reformation Sunday — John 8:31-36

October 25, 2020

 

Those Jews, designated by John as the Jews who had believed him (emphasis on “had”), they couldn’t comprehend Jesus’ pronouncement of freedom. They protested against it. They held out their genetics as proof of their freedom. “Offspring of Abraham,” they interjected. “Never enslaved to anyone,” they railed. “What do you mean, ‘You will become free’?” they protested. Those Jews had become so inured to their bondage, it appeared as freedom to them.

 

Prayers from those whom Jesus sets free from sin, death, and the power of the devil…

 

Father in heaven, your Son, Jesus Christ, reveals to me just how deeply I am bound in my sin. Forgive me as I confess its depths to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, your Word has exposed me in the selfishness of my so-called good deeds. My neighbors may have benefited from them but I, in the selfishness of sin, claimed them for myself. Again, forgive me my sinfulness. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, even as your Word has exposed my sin in that unyielding light of Christ, that same light has illuminated your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, to be my deliverer from bondage to sin, death and the power of the devil. In his name, I pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, restrain me from practicing my bondage in sin so that I do not attempt the establishment of an earthly divine kingdom through political coercion or Christian triumphalism. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, place in my heart such thanksgiving for the eternal life which is mine in Christ Jesus that I rejoice in the things of this world for what they are and not how I would use them for establishing a righteousness of my own. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have continued to bless the Institute of Lutheran Theology by keeping it fruitful in students and graduates. Continue that blessing of fruitfulness so that your Word may go out unfettered to the world and enjoy the free reign of the Holy Spirit’s work to bring those who hear it to faith in Christ. In his name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, on that day when this old earth and the old heavens pass away, hold me in the confidence that my name has been written in the book of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of October 12, 2020

Pentecost +20—Matthew 22:15-21

 

October 18, 2020

 

In Matthew’s text, Jesus continues to stand in the Temple, under examination by the Jewish religious leaders and all their factions. This day’s inquisitors are the Pharisees and the Herodians. Their tactic attempts to ensnare Jesus with a “gotcha” question regarding the payment of taxes. Jesus answers their question with a question of his own: “Who has the coin with which the taxes are paid?” When the coin is produced, it reveals the hypocrisy of the inquisitors. They have violated the commandment against graven images and are idolators for possessing the image of a rival god, the Roman emperor. Producing the coin would also have exposed the tension between the Pharisees, who were very strict about such things, and the Herodians, who were more lax regarding the things of the emperor.

 

Prayers from those whom Jesus confronts with their own hypocrisy…

 

Heavenly Father, as your Son exposes the idols of my own life, grant that he also becomes my life as I come to fully inhabit my mortality. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, as your Word goes into my ears and into my heart, driven there by your Holy Spirit, hold me in the confidence of your Word and the sure and certain knowledge that you do not lie. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, as I live out of the confidence of your truth-telling, make of me such a neighbor that I help my neighbors in all their physical needs, protect their property against all harm, and speak well of them in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, as I live out of the confidence of your truth-telling, make of me such a citizen of my nation that I respect and honor its leaders and others in authority. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, as I live out of the confidence of your truth-telling, make of me one who enjoys and appreciates this life given to me from my God and Lord. Instill in me such thanksgiving that I attribute all these things—even my salvation—entirely to the Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, you have continued to bless the Institute of Lutheran Theology by keeping it fruitful in students and graduates. Continue that blessing of fruitfulness that your Word may go out unfettered to the world and enjoy the free reign of the Holy Spirit’s work to bring those who hear to faith in Christ. In his name. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, continue the work you have begun in me, remove me from my hypocrisy, and give me discernment between the things of this world that is passing away and the things of the new creation that is coming into being in Jesus Christ, my Lord. In his name, I pray. Amen

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of October 05, 2020

Pentecost +19—Matthew 22:1-14

October 11, 2020

 

The gospel text for this Sunday gives us another Parable of Judgment. Again, the judgment falls upon the priests and elders. In the space of just three parables, Jesus has told his hearers that prostitutes and tax collectors will be going into the kingdom of heaven ahead of them. Next, he has told them the kingdom of heaven will be taken away from them and given to a more fruitful people. Now, in this parable, Jesus tells them that even if they do get into the eschatological banquet, they will get tossed out for being wrongly attired.

 

Prayers from those in danger of being wrongly attired at the banquet feast of the Lamb…

 

Father in heaven, do not let me miss the death and life drama of the New Testament: I am joined with Jesus Christ in a death like his so that I may rise in a resurrection like his. In his name I pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, remove me from the boldness of my sin and its offense to others as I am repented daily and raised up to walk in newness of life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, remove me from the prideful display of the finery of my virtues and its offense to others as I am repented daily and raised up to walk in newness of life. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, clothe me in Jesus’ righteousness alone, remove me from a righteousness of my own, and break my heart of hardened stone, as you have claimed me as your own. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, raise up and send forth preachers of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone so that those who hear this Word preached will receive the work of the Holy Spirit and know they are the chosen of God. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, place your hand of protection upon the Institute of Lutheran Theology, guard it against the slings and arrows flung at it by the devil, the world, and all us sinners, and keep it steadfast in the preaching and teaching of your Word, Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, gather me in and deliver me to that great eschatological banquet, the Banquet Feast of the Lamb, where, clothed only in his righteousness, I’ll endlessly celebrate his victory. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of September 28, 2020

Pentecost +18—Matthew 21:33-46

October 4, 2020

 

The gospel text for this Sunday gives us another Parable of Judgment. Again, the judgment falls upon the priests and elders. Through the means of the parable, Jesus’ reveals that they, like the parable’s wicked tenets, have not produced the “fruit”—that is, the rent—of the vineyard. Because they have been fruitless, the priests and the elders will have the kingdom of God taken away from them and given to those who produce its fruits.

 

Prayers from those who don’t know if they’re producing the kingdom’s fruit…

 

Father in heaven, grant that the fruits of the kingdom be mine as I am held in the faith of Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Father in heaven, grant that the fruits of faith nurture and bless those neighbors beside me, the ones both near and far, so that together we would share in the gifts of this creation. Amen

 

Father in heaven, grant that there be a preacher in my life, someone to declare to me the forgiveness of sin on account of Jesus Christ, so that I would receive the fruits of the world to come. Amen

 

Father in heaven, sin abounds in this passing away world, grant that forgiveness in Jesus’ name abound as well so that sin may be overcome, and peace prevail. Amen

 

Father in heaven, hear me when I pray for preachers of Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone. Grant that their voices not be silenced by those of itching ears who’d rather hear comfortable platitudes. Amen

 

Father in heaven, look with mercy upon the Institute of Lutheran Theology that it might be ordered by your Word of both law and grace. Rain down fruitfulness of its students as a blessing upon their studies. Cover its instructors with your shield of righteousness and prompt its staff in their labors. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you hold all my days in your hand and number them. Grant that the promises of my baptism be realized throughout them that I may indeed join you and all the saints in eternity. Amen

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