As a former parish pastor and now a servant of the LCMS, I consider the ever-growing list of petitions recorded in my prayer journal — a book that, for obvious reasons, has been confidential — as one of the most gratifying aspects of my personal spiritual journey. No one has heard all these prayers except for the One who neither slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4). He intimately knows every cry, every “ask,” every hope, every concern, every demand, every utterance of thanksgiving.
In our life together as God’s royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), everything revolves around our Lord, Jesus Christ: crucified for our sins and raised from the dead that we would be declared righteous and resurrected in Him. But this grace-filled revolution also is rhythmically saturated with daily prayer. “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Ps. 5:3); “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Ps. 141:2).
A healthy prayer habit mirrors a deep relationship with our heavenly Father, who delights to hear and answer. We ask as “dear children ask their dear father” (Small Catechism, Lord’s Prayer Introduction). Parents know that kids rarely hold back, saying “I want… ” and “I need…” We have unconditional assurance from the Son of God: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).
And respond God does … often in unanticipated ways. As I meditate over my prayer journal’s contents and outcomes, I am sometimes left speechless at its beautiful array of obvious answers — even when I prayed with fear, skepticism or hesitancy. There are curiosities that cannot be coincidence, U-turns and surprises over the way things “came out.” Sometimes I feel ashamed over what I prayed; in hindsight, it looks way too petty, self-centered, foolish or downright sinful. I am humbled by this. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Prov. 19:21). This axiom is fulfilled, now and forever, in the living Word that is Christ Jesus Himself!
This issue of Lutherans Engage the World offers a “prayer journal” review of sorts. St. Paul once advised, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). Accordingly, we’re taking another look and reporting anew on the progress of mission activities, well-sustained projects and recent developments over which you and your brothers and sisters in Christ have already heard, prayed, contributed and made a difference.
You’ll see how we’re planting churches, reaching people who have never heard the Gospel and demonstrating Christ’s mercy. Stepping forward in faith, we pray without ceasing, in a “love letter” filled with thanksgiving and hope to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Rev. Kevin D. Robson
Chief Mission Officer, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod