Reflections: Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 4, 2024 

Today’s Reading: Psalm 66:1-2, 8-9, 20; antiphon: Psalm 66:16

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 26:21-33, 39-44, Numbers 1:1-2:34, Luke 14:1-24

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me! (Psalm 66:20)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There is a common misunderstanding about prayer. Many people think that God hears prayers better if more people pray. That’s why many people ask anyone and everyone to pray for their sick relative or their friend who is suffering. Now don’t get me wrong. Christians should pray. God commands us in the Second Commandment to pray and use His name rightly. God also promises to hear us when we pray, and will answer our prayers by what is best in His good and gracious will.

But it’s not true that God hears prayers better if more people pray. The prayers of many are not louder to God than prayers made by just one. The amount of people who pray doesn’t matter as much as the faith of the people who pray. Everywhere in Scripture, prayer is connected with faith in Christ. Those who have saving faith in Christ are heard and blessed. Those who do not have saving faith in Christ, or who pray to false gods, are not heard and not blessed. So, for example, God refused to hear the prayers of the unrepentant Israelites in Isaiah 1:5, whose hands were covered with blood – metaphorically speaking. Or consider when God spoke to the idolatrous Judeans who blended their worship with their idol-worshiping neighbors’ worship. Jeremiah writes of this in Lamentations 3:44, saying, “you have wrapped yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.

This is why the Psalmist today is so cheered that God hears his prayers. It is a sign that this psalm-writer is still in God’s love and grace. He has not fallen out of saving faith in the Christ who was to come (who has come now, Jesus). Rather, the Psalmist is relieved that God hears His prayers because that also means that he will not be condemned like the unbelieving world.

What about your prayers? If you don’t pray regularly, repent and believe the Gospel, and then do it. Make prayer part of your routine, saying many private prayers throughout the day. Where God does not say yes right away, that does not mean you are lacking in saving faith. It might mean God has better plans. It might mean God wants you to wait a little bit so your heart is in better condition to appreciate His Gifts. But where God does answer your prayers with a resounding “yes,” you can be thankful, cheered, and moved just like the Psalmist. For your loving heavenly Father knows your needs, and by answering your prayers, it shows that you continue to be His dear child through faith in Christ. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Heavenly Father, continue to look on us in grace, that believing in Your Son and His salvation, we offer up regular prayers, trusting in Your good and gracious will.  Amen.

– Pastor. Robert Mayes is the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church and Zion St. John Lutheran Church in Beemer and Wisner, NE.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Jonathan Lackey is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Vine Grove, Ky.

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