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 August 03, 2020

Pentecost +11—Mathew 15:21-28

 

Jesus responds to a Canaanite woman’s plea for help

 

Tyre and Sidon were outside the boundaries of Israel. Yet, because natural and political disasters drove Israelites to relocate for their own safety, many Israelites lived in Tyre and Sidon. The term “Canaanite” labeled a descendent of those residents of Palestine who were to be exterminated centuries before during the Israelite Conquest of the Promised Land (Josh. 3:10; 5:12; 17:18 among others). Those who weren’t killed were enslaved (Josh. 16:10). This particular Canaanite descendant calls on Jesus as Lord. In so naming him, she recognizes the obligations of a “Lord.” One of those obligations was to be merciful to those belonging to his dominion. Jesus at first claims she doesn’t belong to his dominion but soon relents of that position in the face of the woman’s fine riposte. He asserts her faith and behaves as a Lord to her, fulfilling his obligation to mercy by healing her daughter.

 

Prayers for Recognizing the Lordship of Jesus Christ

 

Father in heaven, you have set all things beneath the feet of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. So let us be ruled beneath his dominion that we recognize his lordship and encourage others to do so as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have established Jesus Christ as lord over all creation, obligated to show mercy in its midst. Grant that he be merciful even as we annoy and begrudge him because we are sinful and unclean people. Let others witness our Lord’s mercy to us and desire such mercy for themselves as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you set the cup of his crucifixion before Jesus and he drank of it deeply. So open our eyes that we recognize that, just as he was shamed and humiliated before others by being lifted up on the cross, we too will be shamed and humiliated in this world broken by sin. Let others witness our cross-bearing on account of Jesus our Lord and be drawn into such cross-bearing themselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have promised that your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, will return in glory and at that time our lives will be revealed in glory. Until that time Lord, hold us in the humility of repentance and forgiveness so that others will not be tempted into a display of triumphalism. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have set Jesus Christ as Lord of all creation and as Head of the church. Grant us such ears to hear your Word that we would know both his Lordship and his Headship. Having heard your Word, give us such lips that we would speak to our neighbors that they, too, would come to know Jesus’ Lordship and his Headship. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have promised in the words of Jesus Christ that as he was “lifted up, he would draw all things to himself.” Grant us such confident living in these the days of our baptism that we would witness to our neighbors that they are among the “all things” drawn to Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, in our baptism you have transferred us from the kingdom where the triumvirate of bondage (sin, death, and the devil) reigns and into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. So grant that we will serve him in everlasting innocence, righteousness, and blessedness and in so serving welcome our neighbors as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of July 27, 2020

Pentecost +9—Mathew 14:13-21

 

Jesus, in his compassion, nourishes the equivalent of a large city.

 

Jesus deftly demonstrates God’s providence by giving the people fish. The emperor’s claim to not only own all things but to demand obeisance from all things is in opposition to the people’s loving Lord. God’s rule over creation extends so deeply into a creation that not a single fish is caught unless God wills it. This miraculous feeding asserts God’s immediate presence among and beneficence toward the people. The emperor remains far distant and more concerned that the people and the creatures worship him rather than his being concerned for the people’s welfare.

 

Prayers for the Ordering of Creation

 

Father in heaven, you order creation such that there is both regularity and stability in which our work/activities can feed, clothe, and shelter us. Grant that we are so able to work that we use that regularity and stability to our benefit and to the benefit of our neighbors. For the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you provide us with neighbors who engage us in that great interconnected web of labor and commerce through which the gifts of this creation are distributed. Grant that we may be useful within that web until we are used up and go down to the dust awaiting our rest in the New Creation. For the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have placed your word of forgiveness in our hearts that we might be forgiven for our failures to be of use to our neighbors. Grant that this forgiveness in the name of Jesus gives us such newness of life that we may be useful once again. For the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have placed your word of forgiveness in our hearts so that it would be on our lips as well. Grant that we speak forgiveness in the name of Jesus to those neighbors who have failed in their usefulness to us that they would be restored once again to usefulness. For the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have given us an inexhaustible source of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion in the person of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant that we would receive from him that forgiveness, that mercy, and that compassion such that it breaks our hard hearts and the hardness of our neighbors’ hearts. For the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have provided creation with an abundance of riches for us to enjoy. Grant that scarcity does not rule among us but that we treat ourselves and our neighbors from the abundance which you supply. For the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you give us your Word, Jesus Christ, to sustain us in these days of our baptism. Grant us such faith in Christ that we live and live abundantly between these times of our sacramental death beneath the Word and water of baptism and of our physical death of going down to the dust of our grave. For the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of July 20, 2020

The Law of Praying is the Law of Believing

 

In the fifth century, a theologian known as Prosper of Aquitaine wrote of the church’s belief flowed from her prayer life. This reality came to be known as “lex orandi, lex credenda”—the law of prayer is the law of belief. It reflects the importance of praying rightly in order that we continue to believe rightly.

 

The Apostle Paul declares to us, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Th. 5:17). To facilitate this sort of constant prayer, many of us have been told, “Prayer isn’t hard; it’s just talking with God.” Indeed, prayer is that simple, but simplicity doesn’t imply sloppily. Allowing our prayer conversation with God to lapse into careless content and empty expressions as Jesus accuses the Pharisees of doing (Mt. 6:7). Rather than pray like that, Jesus delivers what’s become known as the Lord’s Prayer to his disciples.

 

Martin Luther called the Lord’s Prayer “the schoolmaster of all prayer.” We learn from Jesus’ teaching to call upon God as the “preached” God rather than the “unpreached” God. That means we call upon the God who is the Father of our brother Jesus Christ. We pray to the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.

 

Prayers to Live outside of ourselves in Christ and in the neighbor

 

Father in heaven, you have sown the Seed, Jesus Christ, into the soil of our hearts. Grant that we would be encouraged and steadfast in faith for the endurance of our afflictions; in the name of Christ we pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, your providence feeds and nourishes the entire world. Grant that we would be willing parts of the delivery system which distributes the gifts of both this world and the world to come so that all would be fed and saved; in the name of Christ we pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, your hand of protection is extended over all people. So keep us in faith that we would be confident of our shelter beneath your hand; in the name of Christ we pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you rule this creation with your Law and your Gospel though it be in open rebellion against you. So hold us beneath the rule of our governing authorities that we might enjoy both good government and orderly communities; in the name of Christ. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you rule this creation with your Law and your Gospel though it be in open rebellion against. So hold us in your promises that our hope in the world to come is sustained until its arrival; in the name of Christ we pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have established the church to be the body of Christ in this old and passing away creation. So grant your Word free reign among us that the Holy Spirit would work faith when and where it pleases you; in the name of Christ we pray. Amen

 

Father in heaven, you have promised a day of reckoning when all the causes of sin will be removed and the sons and daughters of God will be gathered up for their life in the new creation. Grant us such faith that this promise will sustain us and all who hear it until that day; in the name of Christ we pray. Amen

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of July 06, 2020

The Law of Praying is the Law of Believing

 

In the fifth century, a theologian known as Prosper of Aquitaine wrote of the church’s belief flowed from her prayer life. This reality came to be known as “lex orandi, lex credenda”—the law of prayer is the law of belief. It reflects the importance of praying rightly in order that we continue to believe rightly.

 

The Apostle Paul declares to us, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Th. 5:17). To facilitate this sort of constant prayer, many of us have been told, “Prayer isn’t hard; it’s just talking with God.” Indeed, prayer is that simple, but simplicity doesn’t imply sloppily. Allowing our prayer conversation with God to lapse into careless content and empty expressions as Jesus accuses the Pharisees of doing (Mt. 6:7). Rather than pray like that, Jesus delivers what’s become known as the Lord’s Prayer to his disciples.

 

Martin Luther called the Lord’s Prayer “the schoolmaster of all prayer.” We learn from Jesus’ teaching to call upon God as the “preached” God rather than the “unpreached” God. That means we call upon the God who is the Father of our brother Jesus Christ. We pray to the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.

 

Prayers to Live outside of ourselves in Christ and in the neighbor

 

Heavenly Father keep us hearing your Word so that your Son, Jesus Christ, would be our life, an inexhaustible source of love and service to our neighbors near and far, in Christ’s name we pray. Amen

 

Heavenly Father do not let us turn inward, curving in upon ourselves, and looking for signs of your Word’s effectiveness. Turn us outward that we may receive the ministrations of our preacher in the handing over of Jesus Christ to be our life and that we may appreciate our neighbors’ needs and help them in their distress, in the name of Christ we pray. Amen

 

Heavenly Father so draw me to live in Christ that I would enjoy the fullness of his righteous immortality and not fear the emptiness of my mortality and death in sin, in the name of Christ I pray. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, since you hold me in the fullness of Jesus’ life, grant that I may pour out my life before others in usefulness and helpfulness, in the name of Christ. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, you have promised to answer when we call on you in times of trouble. In such times, send me a neighbor who will deliver the gifts of this creation as I need them; or, send me a neighbor who will be my preacher delivering the gifts of the new creation as I need them, in the name of Christ. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, since we live in the reality of your promises and not out of the disappointments of this old, passing-away creation, draw us in yearning and anticipation of that day when the promised return of your Son shall be known by sight, in the name of Jesus. Amen

 

Heavenly Father grant to us both courage and confidence that we may call on you in times of trouble and pray to you without ceasing, in the name of Christ. Amen

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