Hour of Prayer (Redux)
If you’ve been around Northpoint very long, it won’t surprise you to hear me say that Martin Luther is probably my favorite theologian. His companion to Galatians is one of the greatest commentaries every written, in my estimation. His contributions to the Protestant Reformation were nothing short of world-changing. And his writings on the distinction between Law and Gospel have helped to shape my preaching, counseling, and parenting more than anything else I’ve read (besides the Scriptures, themselves, of course).
“The law commands and requires us to do certain things,” Luther explained. “The law is thus directed solely to our behavior and consists in making requirements. For God speaks through the law, saying, ‘Do this, avoid that, this is what I expect of you.’ The gospel, however, does not preach what we are to do or to avoid. It sets up no requirements but reverses the approach of the law, does the very opposite, and says, ‘This is what God has done for you; he has let his Son be made flesh for you, has let him be put to death for your sake.’ Whoever knows well how to distinguish the Gospel from the Law should give thanks to God and know that he is a real theologian.”
The mallet-wielding monk most assuredly left his mark, for a myriad of reasons. His fiery personality has been detailed by a plethora of biographers. His violent mood swings have been duly documented. His spiritual ups and downs were the stuff of legend. And there were, perhaps, contributing factors. Case in point: Luther’s penchant for drinking stout beer has made him the butt of jokes, both past, and present. The story goes that when Pope Leo first heard of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, and his angry rant against the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Leo replied, “Luther is a drunken German. He will see different when he is sober.” Not completely fair, mind you, but perhaps not without a tiny sliver of merit.
To be sure, Luther is known for a lot of things. But what has been often overlooked is the passionate German’s prayer life. Historian Andrew Kosten writes: “Even in the busiest periods of the Reformation Luther averaged two hours of prayer daily.”
Two hours of prayer a day.
That’s pretty incredible. I don’t share that quote to make us feel guilty, but to accentuate Luther’s theological understanding. Why so devoted in prayer? It was because Luther understood that there would be no triumph, no spiritual achievement, no worthy accomplishment of any worth whatsoever, apart from prayer.
We may not spend two hours a day in prayer, and that’s ok, but we can come together for one hour on one day to pray for our church and our country.
With that in mind, next Thursday (9.08), at 7:00 p.m., we are coming to God again, putting everything on the table before him to see what he might do through us. ReBuild Fellowship will launch on September 11, and days before its first worship service we are going to plead with God to move heaven and earth in order to begin a disciple-making movement in that area of Riverside and through that faith community. We are also going to pray for our ministries here in Corona, and ask God to intercede on behalf of our country.
As I committed to you last time, we will keep it at one hour. Let’s fill up Heritage Hall and plead with God to do something incredible. And let’s believe that the “one who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20) will answer us according to his power and wisdom.
Trusting in his goodness,