Prayer and The Sabbath Day – A Simple Way to Pray


Sermon Text: John 16:23-33, Acts 16:9-15
Full Sermon Draft

The text continues one of the LCMS divergences from the revised common lectionary (RCL). In that RCL John 16 is never read on a Sunday. I’m somewhat surprised as this is all part of Jesus’ final teaching to the disciples at the last Supper, and chapter 16 has a bunch of important and practical teaching. The themes seem to be the Spirit, life in community post the resurrection and prayer. Now if I was a conspiracy sort I’d say it’s because Jesus, especially in today’s text, is at his most Trinitarian and High Christological (i.e. Jesus = God). The RCL has its origin in Vatican 2 and has significant input by church bodies like the Episcopal church and other mainline bodies. And let’s be kind, portions of both of those bodies at the time of the RCL’s creation weren’t exactly big on such clear teaching and were guided by hot at the time critical readings that thought of such parts of scripture as “secondary additions”. Some have continued down that path, others have reformed.

Anyway, the theme of the day was prayer with the trouble with prayer being found in our problems with the 3rd commandment – remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. Luther explains that commandment in terms of the Word. We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. In Luther’s simple way to pray, which is summarized in the application section of this sermon, prayer that starts with the Word is put forward. Our problems with the clear Word is often what stands between is and prayer. We can’t even start to pray because we despise the Word. We have put so much between us and the Word, that we can’t hear it or commune with God in prayer over it.

Paradoxically, prayer and the Word are the answer. We learn in prayer to let God work on us and teach us. When we set ourselves under the word we also set ourselves under its promises. What God wishes to give to us through His Word in prayer, is the fulness of joy, peace and the grace of Christ. And that is the gospel. While the devil, the world and our flesh conspire to keep us out of communion with God, Christ has overcome the world. Our tribulation in the world, ultimately has already been defeated.