Pastor Weise’s Sermon – Claiming God’s Promises Through Prayer

Pastor Weise's Sermon - Wrestling with God

Pastor Weise’s Sermon – Claiming God’s Promises Through Prayer

Exodus 33.12-23/St. John 2.1-11

Epiphany II/January 20, 2019

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd/Good Shepherd Community Chapel, Sauk Rapids, MN

Rev. Keith R. Weise, pastor/chaplain

LISTEN TO SERMON

Invocation    In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

I          Because we are Christians—

we pray.

 

We pray

because Jesus tells us to pray.

 

He says

. . . when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.                                                                               (St. Matthew 6.6)

 

We also pray

because God has promised

to hear

and

to answer

all our prayers.

 

It shall come to pass

            That before they call, I will answer;

            And while they are still speaking, I will hear . . .  says the Lord.            (Isaiah 64.24)

 

II         God has commanded us to pray.

God has promised to hear us when we pray.

and

God has promised to answer us when we pray.

 

And in our readings today

God shows us a way to pray.

 

Moses and Mary

                        both pray

for what God has already promised.

 

III       While Israel was wandering in the desert—

struggling to be faithful to God—

(and at times failing spectacularly at it—)

Moses goes into the tabernacle of meeting

and takes us up his prayer to God.

 

He prays for what God has already promised.

In Genesis, chapter 28—

while Jacob slept—

the LORD said to him in a dream—

I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land,  for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.                                                      (Genesis 28.15)

 

In Exodus, chapter 3

God promised Moses

I will certainly be with you.                                                                   (Exodus 3.12)

 

            God promised to be with Moses and with all Israel

and he promised to get them to the promised land.

But now it seemed that he would not go with them.

 

IV        So Moses prays for what God has already promised.

If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.  For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us?                                                                      (Exodus 33.15-16)

 

True to his promise—

God answers Moses’ prayer.

My Presence will go with You, and I will give you rest.

I will do this thing that you have spoken, for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.                                                     (Exodus 33.14, 17)

 

            Moses prayed for what God has promised.

He claimed for himself and for all Israel

all the promises of God.

And

God stayed true to his promise.

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V         Mary prays in much the same way in our Gospel today.

 

She knows what God has promised.

 

In Proverbs, chapter 3

God says

. . . your barns will be filled with plenty

                                    And your vats will overflow with new wine.                                  (Proverbs 3.10)

 

 

            In Isaiah, chapter 25

God says

The LORD of hosts will make for all people

                                    A feast of choice pieces,

                                    A feast of wine on the lees.                                                                 (Isaiah 25.6)

            So when they run out of wine at the wedding

Mary does what Moses did—

she prays for what God has already promised.

 

They have no wine, she says to Jesus.                                                                        (St. John 2.3)

            And when Jesus seems hesitant to answer her prayer—

just like God seemed hesitant to answer Moses in Exodus—a

When Jesus seems hesitant to answer her prayer

Mary puts her faith in the promises of God

and tells those in charge of the feast—

Whatever He says to you, do it!                          (St. John 2.5)

 

Like Moses—

Mary prays for what God has promised—

and in her prayer

she claims

for herself

for the apostles

and

for the whole wedding party

what God has already promised to give.

 

Mary prays like Moses

and for them both—

God is true to his promise—

he answers their prayers.

 

VI        In answer to Moses’ prayer

God goes with Moses and Israel all the way through the wilderness

and into the promised land.

 

In answer to Mary’s prayer

Christ fills up the jars with new wine at the wedding

fulfilling his promise to do just that.

 

Today—

God’s word reveals

that when you pray for what God has promised

God will answer your prayers

the very same way he did for Moses and Mary.

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VII      But pastor—

I’ve been praying and praying and praying

but God never answers me.

 

 

I need more money—

so I pray for it.

I want my family to all get along—

so I pray for it.

I need God’s guidance—

so I pray for it.

I pray all the time

but God doesn’t answer me.

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VIII    St. James says—

You ask—[you PRAY]—and you do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.                                                                 (James 4.3)

 

            If it seems like God isn’t answering your prayers—

think about HOW you are praying.

 

Are you praying for what God has promised?

or

Are you praying for the sake of your own pleasure?

 

Are you praying for what God has promised?

or

Are you praying for own desire?

 

Are you praying for what God has promised?

or

Are you praying for what you think he SHOULD have promised?

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IX       When you pray for what God has promised—

God will answer your prayer.

 

Jesus says—

Whatever you ask in my name, that I will do.                                       (St. John 14.13)

            He says—

                        Ask, and it will be given to you;

                        seek and you will find;

                        knock and the door will be opened to you.

                        For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks

it will be opened.                                                                                          (St. Matthew 7.7-8)

 

Are you not getting the answers you want

when you pray?

 

Then repent of praying amiss.

Repent of not praying the way God wants you to pray.

Repent of praying from our own desires and need for pleasure—

and set your heart to pray as God intends.

Take stock

of what you’re praying for

and

the why you pray the way you do.

 

Repent of praying from your heart

rather than from God’s promises.

 

Repent—

And then turn to Christ

and pray as HE desires.

 

X         Moses and Mary both prayed for what God promised—

and in answer to their prayers

God did exactly what he promised.

 

When it seemed like God would abandon Israel

and leave them stranded in the desert—

Moses prayed and claimed God’s promise

that he would be with them and go with them wherever they went.

 

When it seemed like there would be no more wine

and the wedding reception would be a disaster—

Mary prayed and claimed God’s promise

that he would fill the vats with new wine

and provide a feast with choice wine.

 

When it seems like God is not answering your prayers—

and there’s nothing left to do but give up—

take stock of

how you pray—

and

why you pray—

and then

pray for what God has promised YOU—

and claim what he has promised to give.

 

XI       Pray that God

will forgive your sins in Christ

and give you a heart that prays

according to his will and his promise.

That’s what God has promised to do.

 

Pray that God

will drive away the devil

and deliver you from every evil

and provide the way out for every temptation.

That’s what God has promised to do.

Pray that God

will heal your body

and

build up your faith

and

sanctify your soul.

That’s what God has promised to do.

 

Pray that God

will keep you safe from every danger here in this life

and welcome you at the last into the life of the world to come.

That’s what God has promised to do.

 

Pray for what God has promised—

and claim those promises as your own.

 

You need more money?

Pray that God will provide what you need for this body and life.

 

You need more love in your family?

Pray that God will love YOU no matter what.

 

You need God’s guidance?

Pray that his word will be a lamp unto your feet and light unto your path.

 

You want God to answer your prayers?

Pray like Moses.

Pray like Mary.

and

Pray like Jesus—

Ask God to do for you what he’s already promised to do.

And then say—

Not my will, but Thine be done—                                                      (St. Luke 22.42)

as our Lord did

when he prayed in the Garden before he was arrested and crucified.

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XII      When you pray like that—

you not only pray like Moses—

you pray with Moses

you pray with the Blessed Virgin

you pray with all the saints

who have struggled through this life in the faith

and who struggle with you this very day.

 

 

When you pray like God intends for you to pray

you stand in prayer along with Jesus Christ, your Lord.

 

When you pray by claiming God’s promises

you will

be blessed by God—

you will

be filled with the fulfillment of his promises—

and

you will

be built up in your most holy faith

by the answered prayers of the Most Holy God!

 

That’s what God has promised.

That’s what God will do.

SO THAT’S HOW WE PRAY!

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XIII    Because we are Christians—

we pray—

trusting in God’s promise

to hear us

and

to answer us.

 

And when we pray—

we pray for what God has promised us—

and

we claim those promises as our own.

 

Thus in God’s name and at His Word

            We say, “Amen, O hear us, Lord!                              (Our Father, Who from Heaven Above.  LSB 766)

 

            Amen.

 

Invocation    In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Hymn of Response:  Create in Me

 

 

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