March 15, 2020 Prayers

Extreme Makeover???

… and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:23-24

A popular television program features women who receive a fashion makeover. A haircut, cosmetic tips, and a new wardrobe produce dramatic changes. But surprisingly, the recipients are most vocal about the internal changes: attitude, confidence, self-esteem. Christians sometimes forget they have been given a spiritual makeover. When Christ gave His life on the cross to redeem us, our old self died with Him.

Although our salvation is now assured, we often live with the old clothing of guilt, shame, and fear. We attempt to camouflage ourselves with perfection and good works in order to earn God’s mercy. We are living with old messages that cheapen the gift of grace. The apostle Paul encourages us to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God … (Ephesians 4:24). Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we have been transformed. We wear His robes of righteousness and holiness. We are never the same after the Master’s makeover!

Prayer

Dear Lord, our Protector, You invite to come to you in all things. Today we ask that you spare people in our community, our country and around the world from harm to both body and soul. Grant healing and strength to those who have been afflicted with the coronavirus or other sicknesses. Be with care providers, giving them wisdom and guarding them from danger. Grant wisdom to our local and national leaders as they make decisions on behalf the citizenry. Calm fear of the unknown and grant us, through your Word, strong faith and trust in your promises. Give us confidence in your care, even as you have shown us your faithfulness so many times, especially in the saving work of Jesus. And finally, help us to be alert for opportunities to witness to your grace and share with others the confidence we have through the good news of our Savior.

Grow in Grace – Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, we thank you for providing pastors to shepherd the congregations of our synod. Bless our efforts to provide continuing education, mentorship, and ministry resources to pastors through the Grow in Grace institute of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Use the program to strengthen faith, encourage the discouraged, and inspire dedicated service to you. Provide the leaders of Grow in Grace with wisdom and bless them with the means necessary to ensure the program benefits everyone involved. Amen.

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March 1, 2020 Prayers

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Television programming is filled with commercials advertising products that supposedly will help us live a more fulfilled life. The problem is — they never do! Many of us jump from one product to another, thirsting for happiness, never finding it. We are left thirsting for more. The Samaritan woman spoke of earthly water from the man-made well. The living water Jesus promised was entirely different! In Holy Baptism the water and God’s Word bring new life, satisfying our spiritual thirst. By God’s grace through the work of the Holy Spirit, we become His children, forsaking the desires of the world and living instead for Him. … you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11b).

Bethlehem, Richland Center, Wis. – Lord Jesus, we praise you for your victory over sin and death that we are privileged to proclaim through our actions and words. Thank you for blessing the home mission efforts of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Richland Center, Wis., so that they were able to connect with their neighbors through several years of events leading to a successful opening service. Guide them as they continue to show care to their community, teach your gospel, and plan for building a church in Richland Center. Amen.

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February 23rd Prayers

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.
Hebrews 10:24-25a

It’s sometimes hard to go out in public with a little one. Church services with quiet times for confession, reflection, and prayer can be especially difficult. It is usually during those times at church when “little miss” decides to add her thoughts on the matter. The author of Hebrews implores us not to give up meeting together even when it might seem like the “easy” thing to do when our children are little. Instead of staying away, God wants us to hear His Word, partake of the sacraments, and have fellowship with other Christians. In addition, participating in worship and Christian education will also provide a firm foundation for our babies. We should not neglect meeting with other Christians. We need the encouragement Christian fellowship provides; and our love and faithfulness may be just the encouragement another father / mother needs.

Multi-Language Publications – Heavenly Father, be with our brothers and sisters in Africa as they work with WELS Multi-Language Publications to develop ministry materials in the many different languages used by the people around them. Guard the process against challenges including tight budgets, illnesses, and armed conflict. May the work on these publications progress quickly for the purpose of bringing more of your people into your kingdom. Amen. Continue reading “February 23rd Prayers”

February 16th Prayers

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.  Psalm 23:2

Sheep are peculiar animals. They are by nature flocking creatures and will instinctively follow a leader, even to their demise. The psalmist pictures the Lord as the Good Shepherd who leads His flock to pastures where they can eat and rest and to quiet waters where they can drink and be refreshed. Jesus Himself says, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11a). He abundantly provides for our daily needs. He does not lead us to dried-up pastures with dangerous waters, but lovingly leads us to green pastures with still waters. In Jesus we will never be lacking. In Jesus we will never be in want. God promises … those who seek the Lord lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10b).

Commission on Inter-Church Relations – Lord God, bless the WELS Commission on Inter-Church Relations as they work to preserve and strengthen the bond of confessional fellowship with church bodies already in our fellowship and to extend the bond of fellowship with churches where we find unity in doctrine and practice. Thank you that in the past two years so many church groups from Africa, Asia, and Latin America are requesting fellowship with our synod. Continue to build your church around the world, Lord Jesus, and bless WELS Inter-Church Relations as it works diligently to strengthen these relationships. Amen.

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January 28th Prayers

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  John 3:5

Scientific studies show that activities such as solving riddles greatly decreases one’s chance of memory loss. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, he thought Jesus was speaking in riddles, for how could a grown adult enter his mother’s womb and be born again? Jesus was not referring to our physical entry into this world. Instead, He was talking about Baptism, our spiritual birth through the water and the Spirit. In this new birth, faith is created.

We are made children of God and are assured of eternal life. … he saved us, … according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit … (Titus 3:5).

A physical rebirth, or even a hundred of them, could not wash away our sin. Only the water of Holy Baptism along with God’s Spirit can purify us from our sin. And this is no riddle!

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary – Lord Jesus, Head of the Church, we ask you to guide this time of transition at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary as new men are called to replace several long-time professors. Prof. Richard Gurgel will be leaving the seminary to serve as president of Martin Luther College beginning this summer. Prof. James Tiefel retired at the end of 2019, and Prof. John Brenner plans to retire in June 2021. By your Spirit call for these positions the men you have in mind and be with them as they help train our future pastors. Amen.

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Prayers January 5th, 2020

“We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2b

The story of the Nativity is filled with pictures. In your mind’s eye, see the heavenly host filling Bethlehem’s sky. Watch shepherds running to find the Babe in the manger. Imagine the Magi, richly-robed scholars, traveling far to worship the King. Our mental pictures help us remember what happened long ago and also teach us important truths today. The angels set the stage by being the first to honor the newborn King. They announced the Good News of the Savior’s birth to common Jews, and the star announced it to noble Gentiles, reminding us that God calls all.

He turns away no one because of status, achievement, intellect, wealth, or race. Picture this: Christ was born for all! As we listen to the Christmas story, picture everything that happened. The angels. The manger. The shepherds. The wise men. Picture it all, and come and worship Him!

Philippines – Holy Spirit, you are blessing the proclamation of law and gospel in the Philippines so that, in less than two years, we are training local men to be pastors. Encourage and equip Pastor Alvien De Guzman as he teaches two men enrolled in seminary training. Thank you for the technology that permits us to offer other classes to these candidates for ministry. Give students and teachers alike the boldness needed so that all may confess your name clearly to lost souls to grow your kingdom. Amen.

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December 15th Prayers

… an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you …” Matthew 2:13b

“How long, Lord?” “How long will it be until I find a job?” “How long will I suffer this pain?” “How long can these problems last?” In times of stress and anxiety, we yearn to know how long. In a dream, an angel instructed Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. The family fled their home in the dead of night to avoid Herod’s soldiers and their murderous mission. How long would the family need to stay in Egypt? How long until they felt at home in a strange community? How long would Herod’s insanity last? They didn’t know. As they had done before, Joseph and Mary put the Word of God above their doubts and questions.

God’s unfailing guidance is open to us through His Word, the Bible. In the Bible, we will hear what is truly important: not questions like “how long?” but promises like … the Lord is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3a); I will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5b); and Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you” (Isaiah 46:4a).

Martin Luther College mid-year graduation – Lord Jesus, as Martin Luther College produces another class of mid-year graduates, lead us to see them as precious gifts from you to your church. According to your will, give these workers, who have said, “Here am I send me,” places to serve somewhere in your vineyard. Give them wisdom and eagerness to teach lambs and sheep about you, the Good Shepherd. If your will is that some of them must wait for a call or assignment, give them patience and encouragement that you do all things well for the benefit of your church, which you have purchased with your holy precious blood. Amen.

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December 8th Prayers

… an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you …” Matthew 2:13b

“How long, Lord?” “How long will it be until I find a job?” “How long will I suffer this pain?” “How long can these problems last?” In times of stress and anxiety, we yearn to know how long. In a dream, an angel instructed Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. The family fled their home in the dead of night to avoid Herod’s soldiers and their murderous mission. How long would the family need to stay in Egypt? How long until they felt at home in a strange community? How long would Herod’s insanity last? They didn’t know. As they had done before, Joseph and Mary put the Word of God above their doubts and questions.

God’s unfailing guidance is open to us through His Word, the Bible. In the Bible, we will hear what is truly important: not questions like “how long?” but promises like … the Lord is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3a); I will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5b); and Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you” (Isaiah 46:4a).

Bluffton, S.C. mission – O Holy Spirit, thank you for the many resources that you have provided in recent years to fund new missions in North America. Continue to encourage Pastor Eric Janke as he works with Risen Savior Lutheran Church in Pooler, Ga., to reach out in nearby Bluffton, S.C. Give our brothers and sisters wisdom in their planning and optimism as they share their faith. Open hearts to welcome the gospel message that Jesus is the risen Savior who has conquered the enemies of sin, death, and hell. Amen. Continue reading “December 8th Prayers”

November 17th Prayers

For we are the aroma of Christ to God …  2 Corinthians 2:15a

Though I rarely have to face this challenge, I do still remember a certain “aroma.”  The baby wipes box boasts that the wipes are fragrance free. If only there was a guarantee that the used baby wipe was also fragrance free! Like, me, you’ve probably had a couple gagging, eye-watering moments when duty calls! Before we judge our babies by what they sometimes produce, we need to take a whiff of ourselves. Scripture tells us that we were dead in our transgressions and sins, and dead things tend to be very smelly. In contrast, the apostle Paul wrote about a pleasant aroma, the Gospel of Christ, which makes us alive by His grace. The stinking, rotting self was left behind. We have the sure hope of eternal life, and that is news that must be shared!

You may think you are not up to the task of spreading this fragrant Good News. Paul also wrote that our sufficiency does not come from us, but from Christ alone. The Holy Spirit empowers us, making us bold in our witness to others.

Christmas evangelism – Our Savior Jesus Christ, we cannot go shopping at this time of the year without being reminded that Christmas is coming. We know that this holiday is the celebration of your birth, our God who became fully human to take away the sins of the world. Sadly, we realize that not everyone knows this good news even though it is for all people. Bless our congregation and our synod as we strive to bring this gospel about the Savior to the people living around us. Empower each of us to invite someone to worship Christ, the newborn King, along with us. By your grace, bring many more to hear the true message of Jesus Christ, which alone can bring true joy to the people of this world. We pray in the name of Christ, who became our brother to save us all. Amen. Continue reading “November 17th Prayers”

August 11th Prayers

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.  Proverbs 27:9 (NIV)

Many smells are pleasing to the senses: freshly-baked bread, newly-mown grass, coffee brewing early in the morning, lilacs in the spring. Aromatherapy oils and lotions have a calming effect and help us to relax. Proverbs 27:9 compares the aroma of perfume to the sweet advice of a good friend — a friend with whom we can share anything. One who listens and loves us enough to give sound advice. That’s the kind of friend God instructs us to be: one who nurtures lasting friendships with love and prayers and gives God-pleasing advice, a friend whose presence is as sweet as the aroma of lilacs in the spring. Love must be sincere. Be devoted to one another in love (Romans 12:9a, 10a NIV). Have I remembered to thank my friends for their sound advice?

Special education task force – Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing us with schools that provide a high-quality Christian education. We ask for your guidance as a task force of WELS and ELS schools, Jesus Cares Ministries, and Christian Educators for Special Education meets to discuss how to enhance special education in our schools to better serve learners who struggle in academics or behavior. May the resources they develop support students, teachers, and administrators. Amen.

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COVID-19 Update      Read the March 27th letter