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 January 18, 2020

The Third Sunday after Epiphany — Mark 1:14-20

January 24, 2021

 

Jesus calls his disciples. From his mouth issues forth a command echoing through the centuries, sounding in the ears of generations as they rise and fall before the Lord, and finally, it comes to rest on your ears and the ears of your entire generation. “Follow me!” Jesus speaks an imperative, the same sort of word that gives us imperious and Imperial (as in royalty). “Follow me!” And they do. First Simon and Andrew, then James and John, get up, leave their nets, and follow Jesus. The text says they do this immediately. And the questions come pouring out: “Did they consider their options?” “What about the consequences?” “What about their nets, boats, and other property?” We, who have heard Jesus’ command in our present generation, use such questions to buffer us from the immediacy of the command or to shield us from its authority, from its imperiousness. Our Lord Jesus’ command “Follow me!” is a Law and Gospel Word. It puts miserable sinners (you and I) to death and out of their misery in order to raise up saints to walk in the newness of life. The buffers and shields we raise against that imperial command protect us from its working of death. Without that death of the old, without that “immediacy,” we have no walk in the newness of life.

 

Prayers from those so afraid of death that they have no newness of life…

 

Heavenly Father, your Word established once the entire creation and your Word continues to sustain it. Grant that we, by your promise, need not fear the death that must be worked on sinners so that saints, raised up and walking in newness of life, would be sent forth in service toward you and the world. Through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, your Word commands, and your Word promises; both command and promise establish the reality of faith. So hold us in the reality of faith given us by revelation through your Word that we, set out to serve you and the world might be of some use to our neighbors in that service. Through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, your Word brings us solace when we lament, comfort when we grieve, and joy every morning. Give to us such faith that we trust that Word for our solace, comfort, and joy even in the face of constant contradiction. Through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, you have given us neighbors to occupy our time as we wait for the coming of your Son in glory. Grant that we both satisfy them in their needs and are satisfied ourselves with such humble service. Then, perhaps, we will have learned like Paul “to be content in all things.” Through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, your Word promises peace to those who are in Jesus Christ. So hold us in such peace that we are neither disturbed by conflict nor do we initiate conflict. Then our presence will be the calmness of Christ’s presence amid life’s storms. Through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, once again we pray for your protection upon the Institute of Lutheran Theology, that it descend unhindered into even deeper service of your Word and your people. Through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

 

Heavenly Father, the day of reckoning is coming in its immediacy. Grant to us the patient fulfillment of our vocations until that day so that our neighbors near and far need not fear for the scarcity of your gifts. Through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of January 11, 2020

The Second Sunday after Epiphany — John 1:43-51

January 17, 2021

 

Jesus names himself the “Son of Man.” This title stands in counterpoint to the other titles given him: “Son of God,” Rabbi,” “King of Israel,” “him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote,” and “Messiah.” It stands in contrast to them because of its humility—that is, it acknowledges Jesus’ mortality rather than lifting up his glory. For the gospel of John especially, Jesus’ “glory” is to be lifted up on the cross. In this old and passing-away creation, broken by sin, the manifestation of Jesus’ glory is that he dies. The cross is his throne. The crucifixion his coronation. Of all his titles, “Son of Man” announces that Jesus has come to die… to die as all mortals do… to die as every human does. Specifically, the Son of Man came to die for you!

 

Prayers from those for whom Jesus died…

 

Father in heaven lead us into thanksgiving that you loved us by sending your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to die for us; we pray in his name, Amen

 

Father in heaven place joy in our hearts that your Son, Jesus Christ, took our place and, standing with us in that place of death, he too died that our sin might be carried by him to his tomb and left there in his resurrection; we pray in his name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, hold us in hope that the glory attributed to the Son of God… to the Messiah… to the King of Israel… will ultimately be made known to us who faithfully wait for that day of revelation; we pray in his name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, for Jesus’ sake, turn us to our neighbors both near and far in usefulness that we might help them keep what is theirs and fulfill their every need; we pray in his name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, hold us in the faith of Jesus Christ so that we do not weary of the good we do as we are useful to our neighbors; we pray in his name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, lead the Institute of Lutheran Theology along paths of righteousness for your name’s sake and when it enters any dark valley be its light and its glory; we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Father in heaven, on that day when this world and time itself will cease, grant that we cling to nothing but Christ for he is the sure rock of our salvation; in his name we pray. Amen

 

Grant these things heaven Father for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of January 04, 2020

The Baptism of Our Lord — Mark 1:4-11

 

January 10, 2021

 

The child Jesus has grown into the fullness of his manhood. He now comes to the River Jordan, joining the crowds drawn out from the country of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. With his ministry still incipient, Jesus comes to be baptized. At his baptism, Jesus receives the approval of his Father. So, too, with us. Because our baptism joins us to Jesus Christ in both death and life, we receive as did Jesus the approval of our heavenly Father, “You are my beloved child; with you, I am well pleased.” Because baptism is the establishment of faith and is received by faith, there is no further progress to be made. The further one gets from the promises and faith of baptism, the greater need there is to return to those promises and be re-established in that faith. So, as we confess our sins and receive absolution, we are returned to that baptismal situation. We hear once again the approval of our heavenly Father. He delights that we cling to nothing but his Word.

 

Prayers from those clinging solely to the Word of God…

 

Heavenly Father, we confess that we sin daily when we try to seek your approval outside of the baptismal promises. Forgive us this sin and the idolatry of works which it generates. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Heavenly Father, the farther we travel in time and space from the occasion of our baptism and its establishment of us as citizens of this world and the next, the greater our need to return to those promises and that establishment; return us, O Lord. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ received both the Holy Spirit and your benevolent blessing, grant that we, too, may hear such a Word and receive such a blessing as we are returned to our baptismal promises. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Heavenly Father, you rule creation with your Word of Law and Gospel even as creation rebels against you, its creator. Grant that your Law would order the world such that its rebellious chaos would be held in check and that rebellious sinners would be ordered to death so that, out of such death, your Word of Gospel would bring new life. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Heavenly Father, we pray for your Word to proceed unhindered across the face of the earth, that its blessings and curses operate unopposed, and that those who have ears to hear would receive your Word as the Holy Spirit works. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Heavenly Father, we pray for the Institute of Lutheran Theology, that you continue to strengthen and preserve it so that it might fulfill the tasks for which you brought it into existence. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Heavenly, the generations rise and fall before in a rhythm that continues until that day and hour when all things of this old, passing-away world end and you usher in that promised New Creation with all its manifest wonder and glory. So hold us in hopeful anticipation that we might endure in patient waiting. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

Grant us these things, Father, in your abundant mercy. Amen

Epaphras Prayer Letter - Week of December 28, 2020

The Second Sunday after Christmas — Luke 2:22-40 

January 3, 2020 

 

Jesus has grown, become strong, and has filled with wisdom. The favor of God has indeed rested upon him. When given the opportunity as he journeyed with his parents to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration, Jesus stays in the Temple teaching the teachers by listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were astonished at his understanding and answers. When confronted with his parent’s perplexity, Jesus spoke of the necessity of his being in his Father’s house. We, too, are perplexed by all the evidence of our sinfulness while our being brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ remains but a promised reality. That we are children of God with the run of his household is held only in faith. 

 

Prayers from those who hold their run of their Father’s house only in faith… 

 

Father in heaven, hear our prayer for faith in the face of things contradictory: sin not sanctity, humility not glory, suffering not salvation, and lament rather than praise; in Jesus’ name. Amen 

 

Father in heaven, hear our prayer for faith in Christ when the triumvirate of evil—the devil, the world, and our sinful selves—assaults us continually, to take it away; in Jesus’ name. Amen 

 

Father in heaven, hear our prayer for faith that those who have been promised the run of their Father’s house lift up their heads so that they may not see the bondage that binds them but live out of the freedom promised in Jesus Christ; in Jesus’ name. Amen 

 

Father in heaven, hear our prayer for such faith in Christ that we might endure during these the days of our baptism as we wait for that day when Jesus comes in his glory; in Jesus’ name, Amen 

 

Father in heaven, hear our prayer for such faith that we might turn to our neighbors in love, being useful in caring for their needs, and speaking a word of gospel to them; in Jesus’ name. Amen 

 

Father in heaven, hear our prayer for such faith in Christ that we can continue in our support of the Institute of Lutheran Theology and encourage others to do so as well; in Jesus’ name. Amen 

 

Father in heaven, hear our prayer for faith to withstand that day when this old world passes away and we await the reading of our names from the Book of Life; in Jesus’ name. Amen

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