Climbing Near the Heart of God

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Original image by Cindy Funk 

Daily Reformation, Psalm 20:1-9

From the Reformer

None can believe how powerful prayer is, and what it is able to effect, but those who have learned it by experience.

It is a great matter when in extreme need, to take hold on prayer. I know, whenever I have earnestly prayed, I have been amply heard, and have obtained more than I prayed for; God, indeed, sometimes delayed, but at last he came.

Ecclesiasticus says: “The prayer of a good and godly Christian availeth more to health, than the physician’s physic.”

O how great a thing, how marvellous, a godly Christian’s prayer is! how powerful with God; that a poor human creature should speak with God’s high Majesty in heaven, and not be affrighted, but, on the contrary, know that God smiles upon him for Christ’s sake, his dearly beloved Son. The heart and conscience, in this act of praying, must not fly and recoil backwards by reason of our sins and unworthiness, or stand in doubt, or be scared away. We must not do as the Bavarian did, who, with great devotion, called upon St Leonard, an idol set up in a church in Bavaria, behind which idol stood one who answered the Bavarian, and said: Fie on thee, Bavarian; and in that sort often repulsed and would not hear him, till at last, the Bavarian went away, and said: Fie on thee, Leonard.

When we pray, we must not let it come to: Fie upon thee; but certainly hold and believe, that we are already heard in that for which we pray, with faith in Christ. Therefore the ancients ably defined prayer an “Accensus mentis ad Deum,” a climbing up of the heart unto God.

—Martin Luther, Table Talk, “Of Prayer”

Pulling It Together

Walking through the hospital waiting rooms, the chaplain saw people engaged in four principle activities: hospital paperwork, staring vacantly, sleeping or reading, and prayer. The first is of necessity, the second of hopelessness, the next of distraction, and the last of despair, anxiety, and faith. There is nothing that drives a person to God like pain and suffering—particularly that of a loved one. The Lord says “call on me in the day of trouble.” (Psa 50:15) Luther adds that this is when prayer becomes real. When one is really in need, they pray from the heart instead of “prattling” to God. An assembly of praying folks without adversity can be “like the croaking of frogs, which edifie[s] nothing at all; mere sophistry and deceit, fruitless and unprofitable. Prayer is a strong wall and fortress of the church; it is a godly Christian’s weapon, which no man knows or finds, but only he who has the spirit of grace and of prayer.” (Table Talk) This spirit of faith matures by drawing near the heart of God in times of trouble.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

1 Comment

  1. Mark Post author

    “Grant that I may not pray alone with the mouth; help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart.” —Martin Luther

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