Tag Archives: Martin Luther

Intercession series summary and quotations

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Oswald Chambers“True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude toward that person or circumstance. People describe intercession by saying, “It is putting yourself in someone else’s place.” That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective.”  Oswald Chambers

Corrie ten Boom

“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.” Corrie ten Boom
Martin Luther

“In his life Christ is an example showing us how to live, in his death he is a sacrifice satisfying our sins, in his resurrection a conqueror, in his ascension a king, in his intercession a high priest.” Martin Luther
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
J.C. Ryle

“Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor. Jesus can understand you.”
J.C. Ryle
Enjoy and be edified by the following devotions in the “Intercession” series:
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May you find a new season of joy and power in your prayer life!
“God has old prayers of yours long maturing by Him. What wine you will drink with Him in his kingdom…So if you are averse to pray, pray the more…As appetite comes with eating, so prayer with praying. Our hearts learn the language of the lips.” Forsyth

Prayer – O When the Saints…

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 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18

Pray in the Spirit:

Be inspired, allow heaven to be continually invading your heart and giving utterance to you lips. Allow yourself to get carried away in the Spirit’s prayer and carried along by the spiritual tidal wave of other’s prayer. Luke 6:45, talking about good and evil utterance, states, “for out of the overflow of (your) heart (your) mouth speaks…”

OverflowDon’t always worry about finding the correct words. As we saw in the last post the Holy Spirit may often take us beyond words into longing. Hear what John Bunyan had to say about this:

“The best prayers have often more groans than words.”

On all occasions – the “kairos” moment:

The best way to overcome time is through prayer. We all know Martin Luther’s famous phrase,

“Tomorrow I plan to work, work, from early until late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” 

The great preacher Spurgeon also learnt the priority of prayer as a means of making the most of every opportunity – redeeming time:

“We think we are too busy to pray. That is a great mistake, for praying is a saving of time.”

In Greek there are two words for time – Chronos, which is the seconds and minutes of a watch, and Kronos, which is the opportunity, the “timeless event” in time. “All occasions” is translated “kairos” here. True prayers live in the kairos moment and are no slaves to clocks and time.

All kinds:

Inspired by the Father’s love may our tongues flow into “all kinds” of prayers. Diversity is the hall-mark of prayer. There are as many ways of praying as there are personalities and cultures. It is always good to be open to learning from others, but the key of prayer is to be able to recognise and develop your own God-given style. Corporate prayer is like arranging a beautiful bouquet of different flowers. Just as the skill of a professional florist can bring beauty from the right arrangement, so the skill of a seasoned prayer leader will bring harmony and strength to the corporate prayer event.

Don’t be afraid of people who pray differently from you. Don’t shut down their utterance. Sometimes people need space and time to learn to pray out loud and refine their words. Initiate long sessions of prayer which allow such apprenticeships. Don’t expect perfection, or theologically correct phraseology, but allow the precious pearl to emerge from the mud of the field.embrance_diversity

Be alert – no hypnosis!

The Greek word used here is “ayrupneo” has its roots in “hypnos” which means sleep, and “a”, which means “out of”, or “no”. No sinking into the land of nod for those who want to pray. I have always been amazed to see how many yawns appear, and how many people begin to sink into the arms of Morpheus during a prayer session. It is a spiritual battle to stay alert! Somnos is the Latin equivalent for sleep. Prayer pushes us to “insomnia,” or as the Muslims say, “Prayer is better than sleep.”

Hypnos, in Greek mythology, had a twin brother called Thanatos which gives us the word “death.” When most of the people are half-asleep or non-engaged in the prayer, you are simply inviting a very deathly spirit into your session. Remember the context of spiritual warfare within which this teaching on prayer is given. “Be Alert!”

Always keep on:

Forsyth said:

“The chief failure of prayer is its cessation.”

You will never finish a marathon if you stop. The very nature of prayer is persistence – not simply a legalistic masochism to get to the end of the session, but a hard-working, painfully sweating, sweet communion with our Bridegroom King. We do not just pray to get stuff, but the very “praying personality” which God is forming in us has untold eternal value in itself. The Bride is indeed, with much faithful perseverance, making herself ready.

For all the saints:

Who are the saints? This is what Pope Francis recently said on his Twitter page.

“To be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.”

Our prayers must never remain only mystical words. Beware the aimless strumming of a guitar, or the endless listening to a worship cd for hours on end that sometimes goes by the name of a prayer session. At some point your prayer must connect!

Praying for the saints doesn’t mean a mystical devotion to an old man’s bones or a young man’s singing. It means finding incarnation and communion. 

Prayer needs to be directed to real people and projects. It needs a group of bodies to live in.  It needs your own willing body. It needs a living sacrifice. King David sums up this necessary incarnation in Psalm 109:4 when he says:

“I am a man of prayer.”

Translated  literally he is saying: “I am prayer…”

Prayer needs to incarnate into unreached people groups, language learning, faith sharing, generous giving, servanthood…crucifixion.

saintsYour prayers also need communion. The Apostles creed states that we believe “in the communion of the saints.” This can only be fully grasped in the context of prayer. We ever live in our prayers. Groanings and intercession outlast time and death. We can still be in communion with the prayers of Saint Paul…but also Saint Evan Roberts, and all the other cloud of witnesses who have faithfully, and often anonymously,  prayed throughout the ages.

We are called to pick up the baton of such prayers and carry them forward into our own generation. Longings and dreams for revival, for the awakening of whole people groups. How Hudson Taylor’s groanings for China have been taken up by a whole generation of Chinese now on their way “back to Jerusalem.”

There is indeed a necessary Synergy of intercession – a deep communion with the living prayers of those who have gone, and are going before us.

The every day “koinonia”  of a prayer group’s life is also vitally important for the efficacy of prayer. In Matthew 18:19-20 we read:

” Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

“Symphono” and “Synago” – the sweet music of agreement, and the unity of the gathered, true synergy, genuine communion...

“the saints go marching in!”

 

 

Sin boldly…not badly

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martin-luther

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”               1 John 2:1-2

All the good news of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit is given us so that “we will not sin.”
…but…
we, flawed people, live in an imperfect world and we have to survive the many contradictions and challenges of life.
…so…
Sin boldly not badly!
Let’s learn some lessons in life from Martin Luther…
“If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here we have to sin. This life in not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. . . . Pray boldly-you too are a mighty sinner.” (Weimar ed. vol. 2, p. 371; Letters I, “Luther’s Works,” American Ed., Vol 48. p. 281- 282) 
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“Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.”   
Food_Fun_FellowshipNow…I’m not encouraging you to alcoholism…and I deeply respect teetotal cultures. Just be real, not too self-righteous, and overcome the enemy with grace, laughter, fellowship and joy.
And another similar quote to finish…
If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.”
On the day of the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle, 1521