Based on Luke 6:12-19
As pastor of Saint Luke’s Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado for 25 years, we had three building programs and five capital stewardship campaigns to get the buildings out of the ground and paid for over time. Such focus and growth take a lot of planning, much work and willing volunteers. Even more, it takes great and intensive prayer! Prior to our first capital stewardship campaign, it was decided that we would engage in a 24-hour prayer vigil. The financial needs for our modest sized congregation to be able to expand our church facility were great — out of proportion, it seemed, to our middle-class membership. But we needed space as we were growing and to allow us to continue to grow, so we turned to God in prayer.
We had a sign-up sheet available for several weeks, so that members and friends of the congregation could sign-up for 30-minute increments of prayer. Prayer materials were provided, with hosts keeping watch over the church through the night as prayers prayed. We prayed for our congregation, for our ministry, for each other, for needs in our community and world, and anything else we could think of. After that first prayer vigil, we made it a regular practice whenever we were facing a great challenge in our ministry. I heard two comments over and over after the 24 hour prayer vigils: “I was surprised how quickly the time went when I focused on God and my prayer,” and “I’ve never spent 30 minutes in prayer in my whole life — it brought me to tears!” Wow! It was a powerful experience for a congregation.
I think of these prayer vigils, as I read, “In these days [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” We are still in the Gospel of Luke, at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Much has happened, but the Lord is continuing to call the Twelve, continuing to preach and heal crowds and multitudes as they gathered and hoped to touch Him, to draw from His power and healing. Yet, Jesus took time to go out to the mountain to pray, and all night He prayed to God. Martin Luther is reported as saying the busier his day, the more time he must spend in prayer. For many of us, the busier we are, the more easily prayer and devotional time are laid aside. Again, a meaningful consideration during these busy days of Lent.
Prayer: Lord God, help me to learn to pray unceasingly, a prayer with every breath. And may my every prayer be in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Lenten response: Take time, make time today to pray!
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Chron. 6:12–27
6:12 He stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. 13Solomon had made a bronze platform and had placed it in the middle of the enclosure. It was 7½ feet long, 7½ feet wide, and 4½ feet high. He stood on it and then got down on his knees in front of the entire assembly of Israel. He spread out his hands toward the sky, 14and prayed: “O Lord God of Israel, there is no god like you in heaven or on earth! You maintain covenantal loyalty to your servants who obey you with sincerity. 15You have kept your word to your servant, my father David; this very day you have fulfilled what you promised. 16Now, O Lord God of Israel, keep the promise you made to your servant, my father David, when you said, ‘You will never fail to have a successor ruling before me on the throne of Israel, provided that your descendants watch their step and obey my law as you have done.’ 17Now, O Lord God of Israel, may the promise you made to your servant David be realized.
18“God does not really live with humankind on the earth! Look, if the sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this temple I have built! 19But respond favorably to your servant’s prayer and his request for help, O Lord my God. Answer the desperate prayer your servant is presenting to you. 20Night and day may you watch over this temple, the place where you promised you would live. May you answer your servant’s prayer for this place. 21Respond to the requests of your servant and your people Israel for this place. Hear from your heavenly dwelling place and respond favorably and forgive.
22“When someone is accused of sinning against his neighbor and the latter pronounces a curse on the alleged offender before your altar in this temple, 23listen from heaven and make a just decision about your servants’ claims. Condemn the guilty party, declare the other innocent, and give both of them what they deserve.
24“If your people Israel are defeated by an enemy because they sinned against you, then if they come back to you, renew their allegiance to you, and pray for your help before you in this temple, 25then listen from heaven, forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them back to the land you gave to them and their ancestors.
26“The time will come when the skies are shut up tightly and no rain falls because your people sinned against you. When they direct their prayers toward this place, renew their allegiance to you, and turn away from their sin because you punish them, 27then listen from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Certainly you will then teach them the right way to live and send rain on your land that you have given your people to possess.(NET Bible)
75:1 For the music director, according to the al-tashcheth style; a psalm of Asaph, a song.
We give thanks to you, O God. We give thanks.
You reveal your presence;
people tell about your amazing deeds.
“At the appointed times,
I judge fairly.
3When the earth and all its inhabitants dissolve in fear,
I make its pillars secure.” (Selah)
4 I say to the proud, “Do not be proud,”
and to the wicked, “Do not be so confident of victory.
5Do not be so certain you have won.
Do not speak with your head held so high.
6For victory does not come from the east or west,
or from the wilderness.
7For God is the judge.
He brings one down and exalts another.
8For the Lord holds in his hand a cup
full of foaming wine mixed with spices,
and pours it out.
Surely all the wicked of the earth
will slurp it up and drink it to its very last drop.”
9As for me, I will continually tell what you have done;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
“I will bring down all the power of the wicked;
the godly will be victorious.”(NET Bible)
6:12 Now it was during this time that Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent all night in prayer to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: 14Simon (whom he named Peter), and his brother Andrew; and James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
17Then he came down with them and stood on a level place. And a large number of his disciples had gathered along with a vast multitude from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. They came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases, 18and those who suffered from unclean spirits were cured. 19The whole crowd was trying to touch him because power was coming out from him and healing them all.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
In [Luther’s] writing, Concerning the Papacy at Rome against the most famous Romanist at Leipzig, which appeared toward the end of June , we read: “I merely contend for two things, the rst, I will not permit men to posit new articles of faith and scold, defame, and judge all other Christians as heretics, renegades, in dels only because they do not submit to the Pope. It is enough that we let the Pope be Pope (in which sense this is to be understood he clearly states in the foregoing) … . The other, everything that the Pope claims, makes, and does will I receive in this wise that I will first examine it according to the Holy Scripture. It must remain under Christ and be judged by Scripture.” (18)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.