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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 230

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From the Word: Yes, we felt within ourselves the sentence of death, so that we would not believe on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism, Holy Communion

How can bodily eating and drinking produce such great benefits?

It is not the eating and drinking alone, but also the words that accompany it, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” These words, together with the eating and drinking, are the chief thing in the Sacrament, and those who believe them have what they say and declare, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Pulling It Together: The struggle to be righteous is a desperate effort. There have been times when considering my life—my thoughts and actions—I nearly despaired. The words of the psalmist have come home to me more than a few times (Psa 25:7). My youth, yes, but do not remember the sins of my adulthood either. So, I have to rely on God’s mercy. The Lord alone makes this sinner holy. I could not do it in a thousand lifetimes. Yet, I have learned that God is bent over me with a steadfast and faithful love. He is intent to give me forgiveness of my sins whenever I ask. Imagine that: God giving such a remarkable gift, just for the asking. For Christ’s sake, he gives even more. He gives salvation and everlasting life. This is the promise apprehended each time we eat and drink with faith.

Prayer: Lead me from hopelessness to trust in you, Lord. Amen.

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In Prayer as Joy, Prayer as Struggle, Rev. Mark Braaten explores many types of prayer, including thanksgiving, confession, praise, wrestling, petition, intercession, listening, and hope. He also explores what it means when the answer to prayer is "no" and how we experience prayer in times of doubt. In each chapter, he uses and extended biblical example of prayer and also provides the text of prayers we can use in our own practice. For all who seek joy in prayer, even as we struggle, Braaten offers an engaging personal and pastoral reflection on the ways we pray.

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