"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Prayers of a Mother (Pastor's Corner)

            Prayer is powerful. It is powerful not because prayer itself is powerful, but because the God to Whom we pray is powerful and is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.[Ephesians 3:20] We might hear that, but does it actually happen?
            Aurelius Augustus (popularly known as “Augustine”) was a saint, as all are who believe in Christ, but if you read his life in his autobiography “Confessions,” your first reaction would not be to call him holy. Augustine recalls his “hedonistic” days when he stole for the fun of it, was a womanizer, and followed every new worldly philosophy he encountered.
            This was not how Monica, his mother, raised him. She had as her desire that he would get married, live near her, and most of all to be a faithful Christian. But as Monica watched Augustine shacking up with various women, follow teachers and philosophers around and even move hundreds of miles away – she did more than watch. She prayed. A lot.
As Augustine wrote his autobiography, the narrative is the form of a prayer to God as he sees the hand of God on his life, and God seeking him, even when Augustine was not seeking God. Soon, Augustine met a Christian friend and listened to a preacher named Ambrose and picked up the Scriptures after hearing a child’s voice playing, saying “Tolle Lege!” or “Take and Read!” Augustine read a section of Romans about the evils of sin and glories of Christ and was convicted, turning to Christ. The first thing he did was tell his mother, whom he knew was praying for him. He wrote:
“From there we went in to my mother, and told her. She was filled with joy. We told her how it happened. She exulted, feeling it to be a triumph, and blessed You [God] who ‘are more powerful to do more than we ask or think’ [Ephesians 3:20]. She saw that you had granted her far more than she had long been praying for in her unhappy and tearful groans.” [1]
Our Confession calls prayer a “means of grace.” Yet, prayer is unique since the grace for whom it may be a means may not even be the one who is praying. Prayer was a means of grace for Saul as Stephen prayed for his soul. Prayer was a means of grace for Augustine as Monica prayed for her son’s soul. Prayer can be a means of grace as we pray, “offering up our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies”[2] as we pray for grace for our family, friends and even enemies to know the God of grace.

[1] Augustine. Confessions. chapter VIII.xii
[2] Shorter Catechism Question 98

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