matterofprayer blog post for Friday, October 31, 2014
To Rock the Church, To Tip Sacred Cows, To Pray
Today is Halloween, October 31. Today, in Chicago, it‘s a cold and windy day for trick or treating. (Bundle up those children! Brrr.)
But today is also All Hallow’s Eve. The day before All Saints Day, which for centuries is the day that liturgical churches have traditionally commemorated the saints who have died, who have gone before us. That great cloud of witnesses that Hebrews 12:1 talks about.
Today is the 497th anniversary of the date that Martin Luther, at that time Catholic priest and Doctor (or Professor) of Theology at the University of Wittenberg, had had enough of the church establishment of his time. He posted a list of formal disagreements on the university bulletin board, which happened to be the door of the university chapel. That list—which we now know today as the 95 Theses—sparked a sea change in religious thought from that time forward. Martin Luther and his list rocked the church. Tipped sacred cows.
I was baptized and confirmed in a Lutheran church in Chicago several decades ago. Martin Luther and his declaratory act on that All Hallow’s Eve five hundred years ago has been dear to my heart since I was a teenager. I have traveled a long way down religious, spiritual and theological roads since then, but I always remember Martin Luther. His great emphasis on being freed from the bondage of sin, and saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ, remains with me.
Also, Martin Luther was a great man of prayer. He would spend many hours in prayer each week. This was on top of his busy schedule, managing, teaching, traveling, lecturing, preaching, and preparing his sermons and talks. And then, he wrote many volumes of commentaries, translated the whole Bible into German (both Old and New Testaments), plus handled a huge correspondence with people all over Europe. Yet, there was always time in his life for prayer.
Whatever tradition each of us, individually, springs from, I hope we may all affirm Martin’s wonderful focus on prayer as the foundation of his life. He depended on prayer. Moreover, prayer and Scripture are so closely linked in his mind that he could not imagine one without the other. Like Martin, I ask for earnestness of heart to be able to follow God daily, and to give prayer the highest place of priority in my life.
Let’s pray. Dear God, gracious Redeemer, we thank You for examples like Martin Luther, who we remember as a great man of faith as well as prayer. We remember with him that You are our refuge and strength, a mighty fortress that never will fail us. Thank You for Your love and faithfulness. Help us as we continue to follow You. In the mighty name of God we pray, Amen.
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