Sunday, April 15, 2012

praying the gospels with Martin Luther

Praying the Gospels with Martin Luther: Finding Freedom in Love by Paul W Meier

and Praying the Gospels website, where you can read the entire text of each sermon related to each prayer.

The author tells us, "The picture on the cover is one of the caves at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Martin Luther said we can find the gospel in both testaments, in the promise of the Messiah and then in the fulfillment of that promise. The image is a reminder that treasure can be found in unexpected places. I hope you find a treasure worth sharing with others as you meditate on these prayers."

Pastor Paul Meier crafts each of his prayers in this collection on a sermon by Martin Luther, thus Praying the Gospels alongside the tradition in which sermon and hymn of the day invariably are based on the appointed gospel text for that Sunday or feast day. Several short paragraphs of acknowledgments of God's loving presence and saving actions, confessions, admissions, pleading, petitions and requests comprise each prayer and express the spirit of the related sermon in contemporary, yet reverent language; some of it reminds me of Eugene Peterson's Message version of the Bible. Pr Meier addresses God differently each time: Sovereign God and Lord; Love of My Life; Protective Lord; Hidden Lord; Loving and Empowering Word; Good and Merciful Rescuer...

The book ends with discrete prayers for Good Friday and one for "Confession and the Lord's Supper," and concludes with a bibliography of works cited.

I've read enough Luther that I can sense his persona in many of these prayers. I love how each one ends with a stanza or two from a hymn by Luther! You can find "A Mighty Fortress" in every denominational and free church hymnal, but he wrote dozens (maybe hundreds?) more than that musical icon of the Reformation. Many are not well-known outside the various Lutheran church bodies, so check them out, take them to your heart and try to find a score, a video or a sound file for your favorites.

The outstanding introduction includes this partial explanation of the reason behind this book: "[Martin Luther] preached that we can only show our love for God through loving our neighbor. And he left no doubt that salvation that comes through faith alone by the grace of God produces more good works for our neighbor than the church in Rome ever demanded of anyone. Luther’s sermons gave me a new sense of freedom— a new kind of power and confidence to be bold in my faith walk. I believe the concepts I share in the prayers of this book will give you that same freedom."

As Pr Meier suggests, this is more a resource for meditation, pondering, praying and reflection than it is something you'd read straight through. I'd like to give another high five to the author for the Amazon free giveaway that enabled me to get the Kindle version. Most likely I'll spring for an actual copy because that format is more conducive to meditation, pondering, praying...

my amazon review: praying Luther's words today

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