A Day of Prayer and Daily Prayer
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18
OUR NATION IS A BATTLEGROUND, without question. True, tanks may not rumble through our streets and missiles may not screech through our skies as in many other countries, but we fight struggles and battles on the fronts found on our own doorsteps and even in our own homes. In the civic realm, we struggle to live Godly lives under governments that often seem bent on muting or even punishing Christian realities, to speak fairly and faithfully in the face of media (social and otherwise) that often seems determined to shame and twist Christian words, and to think clearly and soberly when the educational system that shapes our thought seems intent on molding a generation in a pagan worldview. In the family circle, we battle with the erosion and definition of the very essence of family, let alone with the ways in which family best works under God’s guidance. Even in the Church, we come under attack as those who would sow discord hide their actions under a veneer of shallow unity based in something other than God’s Word of Scripture.
Since in this nation we wrestle against these cosmic powers over this present darkness and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, it is fitting to observe a particular day of prayer, such as that organized by the National Day of Prayer organization, this year on Thursday, 5 May. However, it is even more fitting to recall that prayer is the final piece of the whole armor (panopoly) God gives us in order to stand against the devil’s schemes, and that such praying is to be at all times and in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. In short, prayer is the ongoing strength of the Lord’s might put upon our lips, whether in words or groanings beyond words. (See Ephesians 6:10-20 and Romans 8:26-27.)
So how do we pray at all times? Only through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Luther writes as he comments on John 14:13-14:
Through Christ alone we possess both grace and the granting of prayer.… Therefore wherever there is a Christian, there is none other than the Holy Spirit, who does nothing but pray without ceasing. Even though one does not move one’s lips and form words continuously, one’s heart nonetheless does beat incessantly; and, like the pulse and the heart in the body, it beats with sighs such as these: “Oh, dear Father, please let Thy name be hallowed, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done among us and everyone!” And when blows fall, when temptations thicken, and adversity presses harder, then such sighing prayers become more fervent and also find words. A Christian without prayer is just as impossible as a living person without a pulse. The pulse is never motionless; it moves and beats constantly, whether one is asleep or something else keeps one from being aware of it. (AE 24:89)
But not all praying is to be about battles and struggles! In 1 Thessalonians, Saint Paul frames constant prayer with two other deeply connected, constant exhortations: “Rejoice!” and “Give thanks!” Even as we pray that God would help us and our nation in our afflictions, we still rejoice in and give thanks for all that God has done and continues to do for us, even the trials that test and refine our faith. Even as we see the darkness around us, we remember how God remembers us and is continually our light in that darkness. Death itself could not overcome the Light, Jesus Christ; no other darkness can. God’s will is that we rejoice, pray, and give thanks in everything; He gives us everything we need to do so in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Christ has already won the battle, for He is risen—He is risen, indeed!
Your fellow servant in Christ,
A Day of Prayer and Daily Prayer