Standing at the Cross in Prayer

March 8, 2017 – 1st Wednesday of Lent

by Pastor Pete Scheele

Read 2 Corinthians 1:18 – 22


Grace and peace to you as you stand at the Cross in prayer, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen

In my many years as a coach and teacher I learn something very important and that was until you get your athlete or student to believe in his or her ‘yes’ than they will never achieve to their potential. What do I mean?  Well when an athlete or a student is given a task, such as tackling or blocking his opponent he will never accomplish that task continually until he or she can say ‘Yes!’ without reservation to the question, “Are you ready to get the job done.” Let me give you an example.

In about 1986 I was the Junior Varsity coach and Varsity defensive backfield coach at Frederick High School.  On my Junior varsity squad, which consisted of mostly of freshmen and a few sophomores, I had a freshman quarterback named Antonio Martinez who was deaf and mute, but could only make a few noises. Antonio was a gifted athlete and many of the students in his class had learned to speak to him in sign language and he was good at reading your lips so as his coach I learned sign language to communicate with him what play I wanted run and would send someone else in to tell the rest of the team what the play was.  The junior varsity squad only lost one game that year and that was mostly because the team played at the intensity of Antonio.

Being a small school, with not very many football players Antonio was also the third string varsity quarterback and traveled with the varsity team to every game.  On the next to last game of the year the starting quarterback got hurt in the second quarter of the game and couldn’t play.  The second-string quarterback had gotten hurt the game before and was also out for this game, so that meant that Antonio was going to have to play.  The head coach and I had talked about how I could communicate the play to Antonio and I turned to Antonio and asked him ‘Are you ready to play as the varsity quarterback?’ He signed to me with a big smile “Yes!”  We didn’t win that game, but Antonio played great and did everything that the head coach asked of him to do. I told him he did a great job and he told me that he wished he could have played better.  Tony went to the Colorado School for the deaf and blind the next year and when he was a junior and senior he led them to two state champions in football for single A schools and earned a scholarship to CU to play defensive back. When Tony said “Yes” that meant that he would put everything that he had into doing what you asked of him and his yes would often lead other to believe that they could accomplish the task also.

Letting your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ has a lot to do with who you are putting your trust in. For Antonio, his trust was in God even at the young age of 14. In a sermon on the Second Sunday in Lent of 1534 Martin Luther said: “Let us, therefore, never doubt that we have a ‘Yes’ in heaven, imbedded in the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his Father’s, and that in his time it will be revealed.” Luther was certainly known to saying some humorous things in his life, but this statement he was as serious as he could be. Luther knew that in prayer we ought to explore the possibilities of God’s will. He knew that in prayer we ought to have confidence in God as our Lord. He knew that in prayer we ought to place our trust in Jesus Christ for His answer to us is always yes in doing God’s will. 

What about you? Is that how you pray? When you pray do you explore the possibilities of God’s will without regard to your own? Do you have confidence in God as your Lord always believing that he knows best? Do you pray placing complete trust in Jesus without doubting?

If we’re honest we have to say that we don’t always recognize that God’s will is greater than our own. We don’t always have the confidence to believe that He knows best. We don’t always place complete trust in Jesus without doubting. Sometimes we expect “no” for an answer instead of the “yes” of God’s perfect plan.

Yet our Bible readings for today give us two pictures of trust in God. First there is Solomon who prays one of the great prayers of the Bible at the dedication of the original temple. In the middle of the prayer he demonstrates his trust by saying: “… And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” (1 Kg 8:30) Did you hear those three words of trust? “When you hear.” Solomon prays in confidence knowing that God will most certainly hear every one of the prayers spoken to Him. There is no doubt in Solomon’s mind. For he had seen God hand in his own life.

Then there is the woman with a demon-possessed daughter who comes to Jesus. He hears her request for healing but tests her faith. He tells her that he has come only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He says that people don’t take the bread of their children and give it to the dogs. The woman refuses to give up. She says, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Do you see how she says, “Yes”? She goes right along with what Jesus says, knowing that He has enough to give for all. So, He replies with His own “yes.” “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” In that moment, her daughter is healed. Great is her faith because great is her Jesus.

Great is our faith because great is our Jesus. As Luther said, we have a “yes” in heaven imbedded in the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. That very same “yes” was imbedded in his heart here on earth. When he was called by his heavenly Father to pay for our sins on the cross Jesus’ only answer was “yes.” By His own life, death and resurrection He reconciled sinners with the God of creation. Now that He has ascended and sits at the right hand of the throne of God He is the “yes” to all of God’s promises. That includes His promises about prayer.

We may wonder: “If I ask for anything in Jesus’ name, will He do it?” (John 14:13) His answer is, “Yes.” We may wonder: “Do I have access to God through my faith in Jesus?” (Ephesians 3:12) His answer is, “Yes.” We may wonder: “When I pray for all people, asking God for what they need, will He answer?” (1 Timothy 2:1). His response is, “Yes.” Always “yes.” “All the promises of God find their Yes in Him” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

As you make your way through the rest of this Lenten season, and through the rest of your life on earth, explore the possibilities of God’s will without regard to your own. Have confidence in God as your Lord always believing that He knows what is best for you in every situation. Pray placing your complete trust in Jesus without doubting. He Himself is your “Yes” and in His time, it will all be revealed for ‘YES’ He want you to be with Him for all eternity. Yes, He wants each of us to grow in our faith and trust in Him. So, start your day with a pray and end your day with a pray as Luther encourages us to do. Keep praying all day lone because Jesus’ answer is always Yes, because His concern if for our life with Him for all eternity. So, let Him make your answer to any request a ‘Yes’ through Jesus working in your life. Amen.

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