Epaphras Prayer Letter

Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Week of August 23, 2021 | Sunday, August 29, 2021

“Cross my heart and hope to die!” I haven’t heard that childhood assertion of sincerity and truthfulness since I left that childhood behind. In my adulthood, though, I’ve heard exhortations both to a heart-felt sincerity and in witness to that same heart-felt sincerity. Such exhortations give me pause, though, especially as I hear Jesus’ description of the things that come from the heart: Evil things… all manner of evil things. A heart-felt sincerity may very well be one of those evil things masquerading as something to be desired. I’m reminded of a Parade magazine interview with George Burns on the occasion of his ninety-ninth birthday. The interviewer asked, “To what do you attribute your success?” Burns answered, “Sincerity… once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” His words are a caution to us sinners that whatever heart-felt sincerity we may be able to express will always be tainted by our sinner’s self-interest. That heart-felt sincerity can only be exhorted of us but never truly possessed by us this side of the eschaton. While we wait for the coming of that new creation, Jesus is our life and any heart-felt sincerity on our part will be from his ever-clean heart, not from our hearts broken and hardened by sin.


Prayers from one who desires a heart-felt sincerity but cannot achieve it but must instead trust to receive that heart-felt sincerity from Jesus Christ his life and Lord…


Father in heaven, for your name’s sake, you have provided Jesus Christ your Son and my Lord to be my life during these days of my baptism, grant that his heart in all its truthfulness shall be my heart in all its sincerity. Dear Father make it so. Amen


Father in heaven, for your name’s sake, you have forgiven my sin and my sins. Grant that I should live from that forgiveness and the future it provides rather than my past and the accusations it delivers. Dear Father make it so. Amen


Father in heaven, for your name’s sake, my preacher delivers my inheritance made mine before the foundation of the world. Grant that I should rely upon your trustworthiness rather than my repeatedly unfaithful self. Dear Father make it so. Amen


Father in heaven, for your name’s sake, you have given me neighbors that I may be useful to them in these the days of my baptism. Grant that they can trust me to fulfill my obligations and duties regardless of the sincerity of my heart. Dear Father make it so. Amen


Father in heaven, for your name’s sake, you answer my prayers by sending a neighbor to deliver the goods of this creation—food, companionship, and shelter. and the goods of the coming creation—Jesus Christ and all his benefits. Grant that I may receive them as the answer to my prayers. Dear Father, make it so. Amen


Father in heaven, for your name’s sake, you provide for the preaching of the gospel to continue from generation to generation. Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology be such a place for raising up a new generation of preachers and teachers. Dear Father make it so. Amen


Father in heaven, for your name’s sake, you sustain me in these the days of my baptism by placing your Word in my ears and your Son Jesus Christ in my mouth. Grant that I may live from such faith. Dear Father make it so. Amen

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