The subject of prayer was the focus of the Nov. 10-12 meeting of the Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR).
CTCR Executive Director Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer noted that every meeting of the commission includes set times for the Word of God and prayer, but at this meeting the CTCR focused much of its time on a long-standing assignment to provide a theological study of prayer. He said the study was requested because of prayer’s importance to the Christian life and because of differing views and misunderstandings about it.
The report, titled “Theology and Practice of Prayer: A Lutheran View,” will be published in early 2012. Lehenbauer pointed out the purpose of the report by quoting from its introductory section: “This study’s goal is to encourage prayer and to guard against potential misunderstandings, from the standpoint of Lutheran theology.”
The report has three major sections: What is prayer? Why do we pray? How do we pray? The report begins with the obvious fact that “Prayer, as any little lamb of the Good Shepherd knows, is simply ‘talking to God.'”
“But Christians do not pray to a god of our imagination,” Lehenbauer said. “Christian prayer is distinctive because we are responding to the real God, who ‘has introduced Himself’ to us. God reveals Himself in Christ and we respond to Him in prayer. This understanding is at the heart of the entire document. And, since Christian prayer is the response of believers who are forgiven and redeemed through faith in Jesus, Jesus’ own prayer (the Lord’s Prayer) is the best way to learn how to pray.”
“Theology and Practice of Prayer” will be mailed to all congregations and rostered church workers in the Synod when completed, and also will be available online at www.lcms.org/ctcr.
In other business, the CTCR continued the planning process for an International Model Theological Conference scheduled for Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2012. The 2010 LCMS convention asked the commission to plan such a conference as one way “To Support Confessional Lutheranism at Home and Abroad” (Res. 3-02A). Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is providing some of the funds to enable 100 Lutheran leaders from around the world (80 international and 20 from the United States) to consider the challenges and opportunities for a confessional, vigorous and joyful witness to the world.
The commission also discussed different ways to share the Gospel message during the upcoming commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. The Rev. Paul McCain, publisher at Concordia Publishing House (CPH), shared some of the plans CPH is considering for the observance. Also sharing plans for the anniversary was the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, director of Church Relations — assistant to the president, on behalf of the LCMS Office of the President.
A 2007 convention resolution (Res. 3-02) asked the commission, in consultation with the International Lutheran Council, to coordinate the preparation of in-depth study resources of the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran Confessions for the 2017 commemoration.
Posted Dec. 1, 2011