Psalm 61:3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Friday, April 17, 2015

AMEN!




Amen!  That is the word of the day.  Jesus has taught us, in the Lord’s Prayer, to pray as sons.  Not as slaves.  Not as beggars.  Not as strangers.  But as sons, “Our Father in heaven.”

                In the Lord’s Prayer we ask for some rather lofty things.  These are no mere trifles and trinkets.  This is the stuff of necessity.  And it is costly, worth a king’s ransom and more. 

                We pray that God’s name would be kept holy, that we would live according to His Word.  We pray that His kingdom would come, that the Church would grow in faith and love and that Christ would return to raise the dead.  We pray that God’s will would be done, that His gracious desires would be fulfilled for our good.

                Jesus has taught us to pray that God would give all that we need to support this body and life, that He would give our daily bread.  We pray for the forgiveness of our sins, strength against temptation, and deliverance from evil.  

                And when we are done, to all of this we add our “Amen!”  When the prayer is concluded, when we are finished asking for God to restore the universe and our meager lives too, then we say, “Yes, Yes, it shall be so!

                That is, after all, how Martin Luther explains the meaning of “amen” in the Small Catechism.  The Greek word “amen” means, “Yes, indeed!”  It is a statement of strong affirmation and agreement.  It is the statement of faith, a firm conviction that this prayer will be heard and answered by God Himself.

                Perhaps the fault with our modern prayers is not a lack of humility, but a lack of confidence, a lack of faith.  “Well, God, if you have time, maybe you could…”  “Lord, if you feel like it, might you possibly…”  We pray like pansies, like wimps.  Hear Luther:

                “It is therefore a hurtful delusion when people so pray that they dare not wholeheartedly add their ‘Yes, it shall be so’ nor conclude with certainty that God hears their prayer, but instead remain doubtful and say, ‘How dare I have the audacity to boast that God heard my prayer?  After all, I am only a poor sinner,’ etc.  This shows that they are fastening their gaze not on God’s promise but on their own works and their own worthiness, thus despising God and calling Him a Liar.”  

                There is a certain audacity to this prayer.  We are to come before God with confidence, with faith.  We pray as dear children to their dear father.

                If we are going to pray based upon our own works and merits, then of course we should be timid.  If we are going to approach God based upon our own worthiness then humility is an understatement.  We would not dare to speak to God a single word.

                Or perhaps the problem is just the opposite.  It is not that we are too timid to pray, but we are too afraid that God might actually answer.  And so we either don’t pray at all, or we pray half-heartedly.  

It would drastically change my life if God’s name, kingdom, and will were first and foremost in my life.  God might actually take away my addiction, and then what?  He might really let me grow in faith and love.  Then what would I do?    

But I know what many of you are thinking: “I have prayed.  I have fallen on my knees, on my face, and bleed my heart out to God begging for deliverance, begging for healing.  You know what He said?  He said, ‘No.’”  

We have stopped praying, or prayed with less confidence, because we fear that one little word: no.

                This is a day to repent of false humility in our prayers.  It is a day to acknowledge that we have prayed, not with faith, but with uncertainty.  We have prayed timidly, based on our own worthiness, uncertain because of our own sin.  It is the day to repent that we have prayed in fear of getting what we ask for, of the upheaval it might bring into our lives.  It is a day to repent of failing to believe that all of God’s promises are “yes” in Jesus Christ.

                Repent and believe, because today is the day that Jesus is validated.  This is when Christ proves that all of God’s promises are “YES!”  This is when God reveals that His plan for this world—for you—is not death and destruction, but resurrection and life!  Today God gives His “Amen” to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. 

                Easter is God’s guarantee.  It is His promise of grace and favor.  God is for us.  He will never be against us.

                It is Jesus’ resurrection that gives us confidence to pray.  But it is not just about prayer.  It is about life lived under God’s grace.  

                When you walk out the door each morning you can do that with faith in God’s care for you.  When you set your hand to the plow or begin a new task, you can be certain that your work is favored by God.  As you care for your family, assist your neighbors, volunteer in the community, do so with firm trust that Jesus is with you.  Have the audacity to believe that God is for you.

                Has God really atoned for my sin with the death and resurrection of Jesus?  Yes He has.  Amen!

                Has God truly adopted me through the waters of baptism to be His child?  Certainly, yes.  Amen!

                Does He really feed me with the sacrifice of Christ, giving me His very body and blood?  He does.  Amen!

                Does God still speak words of Law and Gospel, words to drive out sin and strengthen faith, words to call to repentance and to forgive?  Yes.  Amen! 

                We pray boldly, confidently, as sons, “Our Father in heaven…”  Will God answer this prayer?  Yes!  He has done it and He will always do it.  Amen! 

                Let’s take one specific look at how we use this word, “Amen,” in our worship services.  On page 214 in your hymnal, Lutheran Service Book, I say, “Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

And you say, “Amen.”  Like, “Yeah, ok, whatever.”

No, not “ok.”  No, not “whatever.”

“Yes, yes, it shall be so!”

Your sins are forgiven, removed as far as the east is from the west.  Do you believe that?  Amen! 
 
Christ is risen!  Do you believe that?  Amen!

You are granted eternal, everlasting, never-ending life.  Do you believe that?  Amen! 

Then let it be so for you just as you believe.  

[Read the other sermons here: Our Father;   Hallowed Be Thy Name;   Thy Kingdom Come;   Thy Will Be Done;   Give Us Our Daily Bread;   Forgive Us;   Lead Us not into Temptation;   Deliver Us from Evil;   AMEN!]

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