A prolific writer, professor, and pastor, Johann Gerhard (1582–1637) is regarded as one of the greatest theologians and thinkers of his time. Meditations on Divine Mercy is a collection of prayers written by Johann Gerhard and now available for English readers to enjoy and appreciate. In addition to Gerhard’s prayers, the book also includes a chapter on the purpose and benefits of prayer, as well as an explanation of the blessing and historic aspects of daily meditation.
As we celebrate National Lutheran Schools Week this week, we encourage you to pray for our Lutheran schools, their students, and their teachers:
Jesus, Savior and Good Shepherd, who has given Your life to save us, You have directed us to feed and tend Your lambs and sheep. Bless our Lutheran schools. Strengthen, equip, and encourage all who teach and all who learn in them, so that Your name is praised and honored as knowledge, skills, and attitudes are imparted and acquired. Make our school a haven of Your grace and mercy. Give patience and discernment to our teachers as they daily interact with their students. Give them the insight to apply rightly both Law and Gospel, equipping their students to share the Good News of the forgiveness of sins won for us on Calvary.
As Your holy Word is studied, applied, and committed to memory by our students, cause it to find fertile soil that it may bear fruit in a greater understanding of You and in a genuine appreciation of Your saving and preserving means of grace. Establish our school as a blessing to our students and families, to our entire congregation, and to our community. Through Word and Sacrament, strengthen and encourage each of our school families so they grow in faith toward You and in love to one another, that, by Your grace, they may be a light in a world held captive in the darkness of sin. Amen.
From Lutheran Book of Prayer © 2005 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. www.cph.org.
We are God’s mouth and hands in this world, and how we pray is important to our life together in Christ’s Body, the Church. C. F. W. Walther’s For the Life of the Church reunites today’s Christians with a treasure-trove of prayers that relate to all facets of public Christian life. These prayers reinforce basic Christian principles even as they bring the sweet message of the Gospel to those who need to hear God’s Word for their lives. Additionally, a series of addresses explains both the cost of discipleship and the rewards of church membership.
The following is a prayer for the New Year and an address entitled “The Joy of Discipleship” from For the Life of the Church.
91. New Year
Lord, our God, all-knowing and all-wise, whatever in time You bring to pass You have already resolved in eternity. Throughout our lives You have been very merciful to us. You have let us hear and learn Your Word, and by means of it You have brought us to the knowledge of our sins and of Your grace. Through Your Holy Spirit You have kindled and preserved within us faith in Jesus Christ, Your only Son, our Savior. It is certain therefore that already from eternity You have bestowed Your grace upon us and resolved to make us Your children.
Thanks be to You in time and eternity!
But, O Lord, from Your holy Word we learn that, while we ourselves can contribute nothing toward our salvation—all glory belongs to You alone—we can indeed do much to lose it. Therefore we pray You, take us altogether into Your gracious care; let us be to You as clay in the potter’s hands; guard us against the desires of our wicked flesh and blood, against the enticements of the blind world, and against the treacherous assaults of the devil. Help us to pass safely through all the dangers threatening our souls and grant that during this new year we may either depart this life in peace, or, if we live through it, grant that the end of the year may find us still enjoying Your grace.
Pour out Your blessings upon this first meeting of the new year for the sake of Jesus Christ, our precious Redeemer and Savior. Amen.
22. The Joy of Discipleship
To unite with a Christian congregation appears to many as something unimportant as well as unpleasant.
People argue: If we unite with a congregation, it will increase our expenses and will make the world despise us
1. Because of the Gospel;
2. Because of those within the Christian congregation who have given great offense; for the world is constantly watching the Christians with eagle eyes.
That such is the case cannot be denied. But also this is sure, that, when a baptized Christian unites with a Christian congregation, that person is taking an important step as well as one that brings with it much joy.
Recall the words of Jesus concerning the Jews: “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd” [John 10:16].
Christ wants to gather all of His believers into one great flock.
Recall furthermore what Christ says to His believers, whom the world despises and persecutes: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” [Luke 12:32].
What a glorious promise!
1. Those who join His fold of believers are to inherit the kingdom. Which kingdom? [None other than the kingdom of grace and peace here and the kingdom of glory and bliss in the world to come.]
2. It is the Father’s good pleasure, not the reward of your own efforts. Nor is it uncertain, for what God has decreed according to His good pleasure cannot be overthrown.
Therefore enter our congregation with joy. Although we are despised by the world, God has honored us with a glorious promise, which you, too, are now to share.
And we, dear members, who have received these new brothers and sisters into fellowship have a twofold duty:
1. We must receive them as brothers and sisters, show them that we love them, never desert them when they are in need of any kind, and make them feel at home among us.
2. We ought very diligently and zealously to guard our conduct so that we do not cause either them or the world to be offended. We must also see to it that we are not to blame when the world despises us.
From For the Life of the Church: A Practical Edition of Pastor Walther’s Prayers and Addresses, pages 109–10, 181–82 © 2011 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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Father of all mankind, into Your hands I lay myself and all whom I care for and love. Forgive us all where we have done wrong today and assure us of Your forgiveness and comforting presence. We rest in the faith by which we were sealed in Baptism, in the sure knowledge of Your loving presence; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord and Savior. Amen.
From The Pastor at Prayer, page 64 © 2014 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Almighty God and most merciful Lord and Father of mankind, King of the universe, Redeemer of Israel and Defender of the Holy Church, look with favor on Your sons and daughters and mercifully grant us forgiveness and new life in Christ. Let not our selfishness and fear and ignorance hinder our work in Your vineyard. Renew us each day and use us mightily as Your workers. By Your Word give us the will to remain faithful witnesses to Christ and servants and lovers of all mankind.
Encourage all our members to be willing disciples of the Savior. Root out from our hearts the inordinate love of self that refuses to consider the needs of others or the divine commands You have placed before us. Mold our lives in the pattern of Your Son that we may show to others the love He showed to us. Help us use our gifts, our talents, our strengths, and even our weaknesses, for the upbuilding of Your holy people.
Make our people concerned for the growth of the Church, the body of Christ. May the Holy Spirit fill their hearts that they volunteer to work joyfully and effectively in the kingdom of Your Son. Protect us from the sin of worshiping You with our lips and not with our lives.
Lead our Synod as well in its desire to do Your work in our world. Shower Your blessings upon all the work we undertake in Your name. Stir up our people that they move and act with passion on behalf of those suffering in this world. May Christ always be our Model and Pattern as we reach for the lost. Through all our acts of compassion may we always hold high the cross of the Crucified and Risen One, the Savior of all.
God, be with me in my vineyard tasks this day. Uphold me by the strength of Your Word and enable me to speak with Your thoughts and act with Your loving kindness. At the end of the day may I know that Your words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” apply to my ministry and me.
(Special Requests and Thanksgivings)
Heavenly Father, hear my prayers through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my only Savior and Lord, who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, eternally one God. Amen.
From The Pastor at Prayer, pages 59-60 © 2014 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.