Full Text for Confessions 2- Volume 28 - The Importance of Prayer (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS LC2 28 Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 800 825 5234 www.captionfirst.com *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *** >> ERIC: Thank you, Dr. Kolb. I would like to ask you a question about the Lord's Prayer. But, before I ask my question, I'll start with an admission. There are days when I run and run all day long. Well, actually make that weeks. And at these times I will admit that I struggle to make personal prayer a high priority. At least prayers beyond "Come, Lord Jesus" and the prayers I do with my children at night. Sometimes, however, it crosses my mind that I do not fully understand why a Christian should pray. While I have been taught that prayer is important, I also have been taught to live in complete trust in God. I'm eager to have you help me understand the dynamics and importance of prayer. >> DR. KOLB: Luther mentioned a number of times that prayer is a, quote, "sufficient expression of faith." I think that was a rhetorical move, as we said earlier. But, nonetheless, prayer was very important for Luther. There are these estimates that Luther prayed I don't know six or eight hours a day. There's a sense in which I'm sure that was not true. I doubt there were very many days in his life where he folded his hands and bowed his head and prayed for six or eight hours. But, in a sense, that may be an estimate that's on the low side. Because Luther had the gift of making his whole life a conversation with God. And so, as he simply went about his business, he was recognizing the goodness of God. He was formulating complaints to God about things that weren't going right in the world. He was praying for others; he was praying for himself. He was in conversation with God. I think in our North American culture, Eric, we find a number of attitudes toward prayer. There are some people who seem to regard it as a magical incantation. "If I pray, I will put a hammer lock on God and he will have to do what I say." There was a sense in which Luther prayed like that. He would pray when particularly when he felt depressed. And, when he was worried about his sinfulness and when he felt that God wasn't there anymore, he would point to the crucifix on the wall or he would point to the words of the Bible or he would think about his baptism. And he would insist, "God, you made a promise. And you, as God, are always true to your promises. And you just have to make me feel your presence." But, when it came to temporal things, Luther prayed always "Your will be done," which is a good thing. I think I am able to pray much more freely because I know that God won't give me everything I ask. And I would be able to pray if I thought that my words would absolutely force God to give me whatever I pray for. Because I had experience with my own praying. And I know that I prayed sometimes for things that I didn't need. I sometimes prayed for things that would have been absolutely bad for me. And so the fact that prayer isn't a magical incantation, the fact that prayer doesn't automatically produce what we have demanded of God is a great comfort to me. And that means that I'm free to pray for even some things that are kind of crazy. Because I am placing these in the lap in the ear of a heavenly father who I know is Lord of my life and who will give me the things that I need even if he sometimes doesn't give me the things that I want. There's another theory about prayer in North American culture today. We are sometimes told well, of course, God's already made up his mind. God knows what he's going to do. So your prayer doesn't really change God's mind. Your prayer doesn't really do anything. But it's really a good psychological exercise. It makes you feel so much better to talk to God. Luther didn't share that view either. He knew that in the words of the King James version, the biblical writers could sometimes say a repented God. A repented God, of course, that means that God changed what he was about to do, as in the case of Nineveh in the book of Jonah, only for the good. It never says a repented God of wanting to do good for the people of Israel and so he sent them something evil. What the Bible tells us is, on the one hand, God is totally responsible. God knows all things; God is totally in charge. And, on the other hand, the Bible gives us the picture of any number of saints who wrestle with God in prayer. As you remember, Eric, Luther says, in explaining the words "Our Father who art in heaven," with these words God wants to entice us so that we come to believe that he is truly our Father and that we are truly his children in order that we may ask him boldly and with complete confidence just as loving children ask their loving father. And so Luther could go with a bold heart, ready to risk it all in prayer to God. And that's why he not only gives thanks to God with great joy and asks all sorts of things with great boldness. He even has the courage to complain to God, as children do with their fathers. And that's that model we have in the Psalms very often. And so Luther, because he understood his relationship with God as a relationship between child and father, had a wonderful freedom in his prayer and a wonderful intensity in which he could really wrestle with God, wrestle with human problems as he turned to God in prayer. And, of course, we have to remember that, as Luther talked about how to study the scriptures, his famous formula in Latin, orazio meditazione tentazioni, not only sees our reading of the scripture, our struggling with the word of God in the tentazio, the struggle with daily problems, not only sees it in the meditazio, the meditation on the word of God. But proper reading of the scripture begins with prayer, begins with laying ourselves and the word of God into the hands of God so that the Holy Spirit can guide how the conversation goes when the Bible or when any other form of the word engages our minds and our hearts. So prayer, as the conversation between child and father, was a very important part of Luther's whole understanding of the Christian life. What that finally means then, if we can return to that phrase of Luther's, is that trust, faith begins its expression of itself in our lives by turning our hearts, our eyes, our minds, our ears to God. And at that point, where this conversation between father and child engages us, then trust comes to fruition. And, as we'll see in the text of the of both catechisms, in fact, we have a rich description of how trust blossoms into the activities and situates itself in the midst of the activities of daily life. *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***