A Prayer Prompted by Luke 2

Dear Father in Heaven,

We thank you for the work that Luke the beloved physician did in order to help us, generations later, to be more certain about our faith. We thank you for his research, writing and faithfulness to Christ.

Through these words that we have read today and even more as we continue to study this Gospel, inspired by the Spirit, we pray that you would reveal Christ to our hearts.

Like Simeon, we want to see Jesus for who he really is. We want to know him as your salvation, through which you have rescued us from sin and its well-deserved punishment.

Please Father, establish us in our faith, ground us in it.

And like the shepherds or the prophetess Anna, use us to glorify your name before others.

In Christ,

Amen.

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 1:1-4

Heavenly Father,

We have repeatedly asked you to teach us from your word and we are asking that again right now. We want to be certain of the things we have been taught.

We pray that you would take the words of this Gospel of Luke and write them upon our hearts. We want to know Jesus better, love him more and serve him more faithfully than ever.

In so doing we want to increase our love for you.

Make us lovers of God in the truest and deepest sense.

In Christ,

Amen.

Certainty concerning our faith – Luke 1:1-4

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke is writing as a historian who wants Theophilus to have certainty concerning his faith.  Many have heard of Christ indirectly or unclearly from a long distance.  Luke is giving us a detailed historical account. 

This is not a once upon a time fairy tale.  It does not take place long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.  At the time Luke was writing, it was maybe thirty years from the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He was using material he had researched and compiled for years before that.  We are confronted with a story that takes place in known places involving people that could still report as eyewitnesses.

Given all of that, one interesting thing is that as we begin to read, there is no shortage of supernatural activity.  The very first chapter of Luke records two supernatural births, of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ – who was in fact born of a virgin.  These are amazing stories that deserve a careful retelling.

As we go through this Gospel together, let’s be open to the facts as Luke has received them.  He is simply reporting what others have seen and heard.  He is taking them at their word and we should likewise take Luke at his word.

This is a Gospel that gained respect and popularity from the earliest days of the church.  If we want to be certain concerning the things we have been taught about Jesus, Luke’s Gospel is a great place to start.

 

A Prayer Prompted by Mark 11

Dear heavenly Father,

Your people have often fallen into times of deep hypocrisy and in this chapter we see Jesus confront a group of people who were in one of those times.

Help us to be especially sensitive to the ways that our lives do not line up with your desires for us.

Let us always remember that you get to set the agenda in our lives individually and in the church.

And help us not to forget the importance of prayer. We know it can be really effective when we truly believe and consistently bring our requests before you.

We also know that before prayer comes a heart of forgiveness. Help us to be those people that refuse to hold grudges and refuse to let unforgiveness cloud our relationship with you.

And we thank you for all the ways and the times that you have forgiven us.

In Christ,

Amen.

A Prayer Prompted by Mark 10

Dear heavenly Father,

We acknowledge that we are sinful people who live in the midst of a sinful nation. Particularly in the areas of marriage and sexuality we have so distorted your desires for us that there is no way left for us to untie the knots.

Please forgive us, please transform us and please help us to make right whatever we can.

Help us to rely fully on the sacrifice of Jesus to cleanse us of our sin.

Help us to exercise a childlike faith and trust in you.

Like the blind beggar Bartimaeus, we really are helpless and have nothing at all to lose – except perhaps our sin and shame.

Therefore, we submit fully to Jesus as our Savior, Messiah and Lord.

In Christ,

Amen.

A Prayer Prompted by Mark 9:23-24

The interaction between Jesus and the father of a demonized boy is highly instructional.  

23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 

Heavenly Father,

We know that you are all-powerful and all-good.  You deserve every bit of faith and trust that we can give.  Sadly, however, that faith and trust is still sometimes sorely lacking.  We believe and yet we don’t.  We trust you, but not completely.  We have faith, sort of, but it wavers almost uncontrollably.

We believe, Lord; help our unbelief!  If the faith we have is no more than a mustard seed, please respond by moving the mountains that we face.  It may look as if our chances and hopes are dismal, but they are no worse than the hopes of this father with the demonized son.  Our challenges are no greater than those of the disciples on the Saturday after Good Friday when your body, Jesus, was still in the tomb.

Please act, Lord!  Please hear our prayer!  Please pull us up from the depths of our unbelief, doubt and despair, and teach us to trust more fully in you.

It is in your name we pray,

Amen.

(Un)Belief – Mark 9:23-24

Jesus has just come down from the Mount of Transfiguration with three of his disciples.  Now he finds the other nine stuck in a situation for which they can do nothing helpful.  It seems a father has brought his son to Christ’s disciples.  The symptoms the boy exhibits are similar to epilepsy, but are actually caused by a demon,  When the father asks Jesus if perhaps he can help, the following interaction ensues.

23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 

Isn’t this where we so often find ourselves?  We believe Jesus has the ability.  We pray to God, knowing he is all-powerful and all-good.  And still we doubt.  Our faith falls short.  We lack something in the area of true belief.

Eckhard Schnabel, in his Tyndale NT Commentary on Mark, describes the man, “He acknowledges his lack of faith, which is not an unwillingness to commit to Jesus’ power but an inability to believe in the face of immense odds, given that the nine disciples were unable to heal the boy.”

The reassuring thing is that this admission on the part of the father, “I believe; help my unbelief!” turns out to be enough of an expression of faith that Jesus heals the son.  The demon doesn’t come out without a fight, but it is a fight that Jesus cannot help but win.

We need to be willing to express our faith in Christ and the lack thereof.  Our belief and unbelief which somehow coexist in our torn and divided hearts.  It is not a rejection of Jesus so much as a wavering acceptance with a desire for the waves to calm down.  The doubts of the saint and those of the skeptic are of a different species entirely.

We believe Lord, help our unbelief!  And help he will.