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Pray for the Scattered and Afflicted: <br>A Letter From the Editor

Fellow Intercessors,

Consider this three-part prayer Philip Melanchthon prayed with his colleagues:

“We shall commend our cause, therefore, to Christ, who some time will judge these controversies, and we beseech Him to look upon the afflicted and scattered churches, and to bring them back to godly and perpetual concord.” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Preface, paragraph 19)

Which parts do you consistently pray?

Part One: Commending “our cause” to Christ—My guess is that heaven hears this part of Melanchthon’s prayer most often from us. Each commends his own words into Christ’s hands, understanding it’s up to Christ to guide our speaking, to draw our hearers to faith, to protect us from those who would scorn our admonitions. Perhaps not as often we commend to Christ the testifying and discipling done by our church body’s other called workers, leaders, and training schools. When we do remember to pray these prayers (and remember who we’re praying them to), what a comfort that brings! Christ loves his church, his bride, more than we can fully understand; surely he’ll help us speak to her on his behalf.

Part Two: Beseeching Christ “to look upon the afflicted and scattered churches”—We’re each aware of the many lies that false teachers inflict on churches nowadays. When sermon texts or catechism lessons allow it, we don’t hesitate to warn our churches’ people against these lies. But if you’re like me, you rarely “beseech” Christ to look upon those churches’ suffering, harassed sheep. What false teachings do you find yourself most anxious over nowadays? Ask Christ to pay closer attention to the hearts and consciences that are suffering those false-teaching attacks, those cases of pastoral neglect. Pray in the spirit of Psalm 80: “Look down from heaven and see!” Those churches are the vine that Christ’s Father lovingly planted. Their members are Christ’s hurting brothers and sisters. Our prayers for them will move him to compassionate action.

Part Three: Beseeching Christ to bring the scattered churches “back to godly and perpetual concord”—I mentioned this recently to a sincere, spiritually mature Christian relative who replied, “Why would we pray for that? We know it’ll never happen. The Bible says false teachings will only increase in the last days.” I answered that Jesus himself prayed for it in John 17. Only hours before his betrayal, his flogging, his too-heavy cross, Christ’s heart longed for and called out for the generations of believers-to-come to enjoy concord, unity, true ecumenicity. Surely he would find our prayers for that same harmony acceptable and pleasing to his ears. Surely it is exciting to imagine the things he might do in answer to such prayers.

Perhaps you would like motivation, even zeal, to join in Melanchthon’s three-part prayer. Or strength for the efforts required to gather Christ’s scattered churches. Or gospel-centered tools to equip your people for such prayers and efforts. You and your congregation will find this enthusiasm and empowerment in Pastor Terry Schultz’ new book, Escaping the Deathtraps. Click here to watch a video interview I did about the book. Pastor Schultz’ lively, scriptural treatment of the doctrine and godly practice of church fellowship will really reenergize your desire “that with one mind and one voice” Christ’s church “may glorify” his “God and Father” (Romans 15:6).

Your servant,

Pastor Christopher S. “Topher” Doerr
Broader Reach Editor, Northwestern Publishing House

Image Credit: Juhee Bae (Used under Creative Commons CC0)