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Monday, January 09, 2006 

Sinners Prayer

Semlaker has a great post on a sinners prayer. I remember one conversation with a distraught friend who could not believe I was attending a liturgical Lutheran church. My friend was concerned that I was "worshiping the liturgy just like the Romans". Her big concern was that I was not able to hear the Gospel with all that liturgy in the way. She asked me "what happens if you just feel like singing more praise songs. What if you're not ready to hear the Gospel?". Her heart was definitely in the right place. But she was wrong, church is not about how we feel. I did my very best to explain that the Divine Service is about God's gifts and His continual service for us in Word and Sacrament and not how we feel at any given moment.

But my explanation fell on deaf ears as we were speaking two different languages using the same words. Her big question for me was how do I know I'm even in a church if we don't say a sinners prayer. I was able to show her the confession and absolution that begin the Divine Service. But when we got to the part of the pastor forgiving sins in the stead and by the command of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, well, the two way conversation came to a screeching halt.

If only we had only said the sinners prayer and left it at that. I had to defend my position that just because a sinners prayer is said, that doesn't mean there is the Church. It's not my job to pick and choose who in my congregation are beleivers and unbeleivers. She seemed to think the sinners prayer takes care of that little problem. The Church is found where the Gospel is preached purely and the Sacraments are administered rightly. And believe it or not, there are still going to be tares in the wheat no matter what prayer is said. A sinners prayer has us doing the doing. And I for one take comfort in the fact that it is Christ doing it all for this poor and miserable sinner.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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