Hebrews 5:1-10. 7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Luther said about prayer: To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. And he added: The less I pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes.All these statements are present in the scripture and specially in our today´s New Testament reading from the letter to the Hebrews.
Do you notice the words: prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears! What an interesting description of the level of prayer life that Jesus developed during his years of ministry. This is the reason why Luther describing the importance of prayer in the life of a pastor declared: Prayer, study, and suffering make a pastor. Luther also said: I’ve got so much work to do today, I’d better spend two hours in prayer instead of one. Luther had the idea that if you have more hard work to do or more responsibilities to accomplish, you definitely need to have more time of prayer and communion with God, because only from that strong spiritual connection with God through prayer we will be able to have more wisdom, energy and courage to face all the challenges that daily we need to confront.
If you open your hymnals you will find how important the life of prayer is. We have three daily office of prayer and one prayer office for any time in the ELW. We also have a lot of prayers for different occasions and the complete psalter and the Small Catechism. All of these important resources are there, because for our Lutheran tradition there are four important parts that are always present in the formation of our corporate and personal spirituality: Liturgy, Singing, Prayer and Bible Study. We are a liturgical church, for this reason, there are ten different settings in our hymnal to organize our Sunday worship. We are a prayerful church, that is the reason why we have offices and orders for daily corporate and personal prayer in our hymnal. We are a church that loves to sing and praise the Lord, that is the reason why we have 893 hymns to sing. And we are a church that preaches and studies the Bible, this is the reason why you find a three-year lectionary with the readings for the Sunday worship and also a three-year lectionary for the daily readings of portions of the scripture during the week.
A life of prayer, a life of discipleship, is a life that has always been a source of eternal salvation. The life of Christ was the source of our eternal salvation, and our life of discipleship in imitation of Christ life will be a powerful testimony of salvation to the world. Many people will discover faith and obedience to God through your life of faith and obedience to God.
If you practice a life where worship, prayer, adoration and study of the Holy Scriptures are present -elements that you can see are present in our ELW -you will be a source of inspiration and apostolate. You will inspire people to pray, read the Bible, worship and sing praises to God through your own testimony of prayer, Bible study, worship and praise. As a result of that your life will be a life of apostolate, because you are an apostle of Christ, a missionary, somebody that was called and sent to proclaim with your life the wonders of God to the world. That is exactly the ministry that Jesus manifested and that the author of the letter to the Hebrews described. A ministry of intercession, a ministry of a priest that takes the community to God and God to the community.
We are then invited to identify ourselves with others in their search for God, and be also a priestly people that are living in permanent intercession, permanently praying for the world, the people in need and specially the people that live around us. We are the primary spiritual responder to the needs of our neighbors. If they know that we are people that pray, worship, praise and study the Bible, they will see us as their first spiritual responders and they will call us anytime they have a spiritual crisis or a spiritual question. Why? Because we are the people that has been called to be the intercessors, the praying people of God always interceding for our neighbors.
There is suffering when you have to renounce your comfort zone and accept the call of God and obediently move into God´s realm and discipline. But when we live in the sphere of the kingdom of God, when we grow in our prayer, our study of the scriptures, our worship experience and our praise to God, the suffering will be transformed into joy, the pain into spiritual growth and this is the powerful testimony that we are invited today to share to the world.
The world needs to find in our life the example of that immense joy and spiritual growth that can be found in a life of discipleship following Jesus today as the first disciples did.
God is inviting us to be God´s contemporary apostles for a broken world that can be cure and blessed through our intercessory life of prayer. Let us assume the cost of our discipleship and experience the joy of being Christ witnesses today. Thanks be to God. Amen.