What’s new shouldn’t be new

Last week, Pastor Rossow highlighted a curious event taking place in St. Louis this coming September. It’s called PRAY 2009 and the two pastors planning it hope to spark a prayer movement throughout the Synod. It seems somewhat political — and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that, according to the story, President Kieschnick’s assistant said that this September event “is the first of several prayer emphases leading up to the 2010 Synod convention in Houston.” There’s nothing wrong with politics, of course, and everyone should be praying leading up to that most important convention.

Anyway, to get this event going, the two pastors are contacting “intercessors,” which they define as follows:

Belton and Bira define a Synod intercessor as “[anyone] who regularly intercedes for our nation, our church, church leaders, and the world.”

Now, if all of our congregations were worshiping liturgically, that would define every single member of an LCMS congregation, no? I have been a member of several LCMS congregations — all liturgical — and one of the things that we have done each and every week is pray for the nation, the Synod, Synodical leaders and the world (although not in that order).

It’s just a good reminder of how all of these efforts to do something “different” are actually not that different. I mean, they may be different for people who don’t worship liturgically, but they’re not different for those of us who do.


What’s new shouldn’t be new — 33 Comments

  1. Um…can you tell me exactly what IS a “prayer movement”? It sounds like The Wave (from baseball games), only like a more ridiculous hackneyed buzzword.

  2. It seems that applying the tag “movement” to whatever the powers that be are currently pushing somehow is expected to give it legitimacy. Like the Ablaze “movement,” for instance. Call it what it really is: hype from PurplePalacedom.

  3. It seems to me that well-catechized Lutherans are not easily led by leaders who declaire “movements” and try to get everyone on board. We ask difficult questions. We insist on being fed with word and sacrament.

    And we have a wonderful catechetical tool in the church right now with Issues, Etc. which is currently in the middle of a SEVEN HOUR series on the Lord’s Prayer, featuring some of the most interesting and gifted communicators and pastors around.

    Maybe this is why they wanted Issues cancelled. We are not sheep without a shepherd, but disciples of the living Christ. Our leaders need to be undershepherds with their eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, not worldly “leaders” with their own programs and ambitions.

  4. All the youth who attended the most recent HT gatherings should attend this event, as they prayed for the nation, the Synod, Synodical leaders and the world each day. Can’t start them too young being “prayer warriors” (whatever THAT means), you know [said tongue planted firmly in cheek]

  5. As parishes lose their unity with the historic catholic Church by creating their own unique and parochial “liturgies”, that which the Church has always done becomes for them a new and novel idea. There is a good chance that “Pray 2009” believes that they have hit upon something fresh and untried.

  6. Maybe I’m just being a cynic, but if I wanted to soften people up for some kind of major change like, um, a restructuring of the synod maybe?, and if I were the sort of person to resort to manipulation, I might start talking about a special need to pray. If I played it right, it would create in people’s minds a sense of urgency…after all, there must be some kind of emergency if a special appeal is being made for prayer.

    So then, when the whole character of the synod changes around us, the uninformed majority will just say, “Well, this was really important, and people have been talking and praying about it for a year. I guess it was the right thing to do.”

  7. Good point Kaleb.

    President K. has the bully pulpit and these prayer events are a part of it. You will not see any confessional guys asked to organize one.

    Most likely the prayers at these events will include verbage like this: “Let us pray for the wisdom to take bold steps forward in our synod as we consider changes to our structure…”


  8. What’s the difference between Pray 2009 and what we do every week in the liturgy?

    The role of the “intercessor.”

    See? We’ve created a new class of super-Christian. We used to call this “Stephan minister” or “monk.” Intercessor is the term that is in style this year.

    Because resting in our confidence and freedom as a new creation in Christ is just too easy. Jesus is coming! Look busy!

  9. In light of specific mention in the linked LCMS sites about attacks on marriage and the family (though, strangely, there is no mention of politically-supported genocidal attacks on unborn infants and the old via abortion and euthanasia), will “Synod Intercessors” at “PRAY 2009” be allowed to include imprecatory prayers?

  10. So what is the difference between my prayers and these intercessor prayers. Are their prayers better?
    Do I need them to pray for me? (actually someone should).
    Do they put these prayers on a higher level?

    Really, what’s the thought process here.
    As stated above we as a congregation do these things every week. Or is this just a gathering for the Pastors.


  11. “So what is the difference between my prayers and these intercessor prayers.”

    That restricted information is on a “need to know” basis.

    They need $50 from you, and then you can know.

  12. I have wonderings about this: reclaim!

    “It’s time to reclaim the healing ministry of Jesus in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. For three exciting, informative, and experiential days, St. John Lutheran Church’s School of Praying for Healing will present a non-charismatic approach to praying for healing.”

    “The purpose of reclaim! is not only to impart information, but for each participant to experience prayers of healing as well. It is our prayer that God will use this school to reclaim praying for healing as a natural part of our Lutheran church.”

    http://reclaim.stjohnmansfield.org/Reclaim.php. This is one of the speakers: http://reclaim.stjohnmansfield.org/Stutz.php

  13. Carl V @ 11

    I can have the Pink Nuns on Morgan Ford road in St.Louis do that for 25.00.
    Gotta shop around ya know. Anyway the kids say that pink is the new black. Wouldn’t ya know our guy’s still wear black.
    Still not HIP enough.



    it’s the $50 registration that makes me think, “How is the LCMess NOT like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) anymore?”

    Special priesthood holders get their … priesthoods in the LDS Temple. To get your temple recommend(ation), you have to prove that you have tithed and tithed fully, have made your fasting tithe, have served in all the offices you’ve been assigned to, have kept the Law (including, but not limited to, not killing anybody and not drinking coffee).

    Anyway. I know we’re not that bad. The day they forbid coffee is the day this descendant exits, stage right.

    It’s that $50 “pay to pray” thing that gets my attention, and not in any good way.

  15. “The purpose of reclaim! is not only to impart information, but for each participant to experience prayers of healing as well.”

    Well… for $95 each participant can experience it.

    “St. John Lutheran Church’s School of Praying for Healing will present a non-charismatic approach to praying for healing.”

    So it looks like everything will be in English to avoid the 1 Cor:14 27-28 requirements. Oh, and annointing with oil is included in the registration.

  16. Mary Ellyn,

    Very interesting. It gets really scarry when you go to Pastor Stutz’s church website where there are some spooky prayer practices promoted. http://www.gslc-pasadena.org/prayer.html . This is another example of what we found at Pastor Bira’s church in Michigan.


  17. Lets see, I think I can put together a better conference on prayer, with no travel expenses, right in your living or church, from CPH:

    For $15.49 you can have a better seminar on prayer/spirituality in Dr. Kleinig’s “Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today”

    If your willing to shell out more you can go for the intensive breakout session on prayer with Dr, Kleinig’s bible study “Lutheran Spirituality: Prayer” for $8.99.

    Finally if you want the full package that puts the theology into practice get the “Treasury of Daily Prayer”, thats expensive – $49.99, but what good is theology if its not put into practice – no more just head knowledge ya know!

    Let’s see, that totals, for the full package, $74.47 (plus shipping!). If you need some “group” experience, grab some people at church and your pastor and go through the Bible Study and practice the Treasury one or more times corporately weekly.

    PS: If the Treasury is too rich for you get a copy of LSB, your Pastor might even let you just have one if you ask – TLH might even be easier to get and has the collects.

    PPS: This does not include our ongoing weekly seminar on corporate prayer Sunday mornings.

    Not to be a shill for CPH (and really there is nothing wrong with that – best publishing house currently in Christendom), but we have in house better resources than any theosophic bunch.


  18. “It gets really scarry when you go to Pastor Stutz’s church website where there are some spooky prayer practices promoted.”

    Oh yeah?!? Well if you think Stutz’s “spooky prayer practices” are scary, you’ll puke your confessional Lutheran guts out at Stutz’s explanation of baptism:

    “Baptism of Children is celebrated during the 10:45 a.m. [“a lively worship experience based on a thematic liturgy with contemporary liturgical music and features a Praise Team and various instruments such as guitar, bass, and drums.”] Sunday service. During the Pre-Baptism meeting, the place of Baptism in the process of faith development is explained and the parents are instructed in their role as Christian parents; godparents also receive instructions at this time.”

    Even a Unitarian or Hindu would have no problem with that explanation.

    Oh, and save some of your projectile-vomiting for Stutz’s closing comments on the Lord’s Supper:

    “I think you will find a welcoming congregation and a quality celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Peace and all good, Rev. Steve Stutz Pastor”

  19. When do the “It’s Ok to pay to pray” t-shirts come out?

    #17- Well, since Kleinig is a theologian and his writings are based upon the Biblical doctrine of prayer, they have specifically said they want none of this at this event.

    And if you are teaching/promoting “theophistic prayer” the Treasury is too structured on God’s Word.

  20. From the Reporter article: “We will not talk about prayer. There will be no presentations on prayer. There will be no diagnosis of the types of prayer. We are coming together to pray.” For this, you must pay $50 registration, $67 lodging, and $100-300 in travel expenses.

    Wouldn’t it be better stewardship of time and resources if you stayed home and put that money in the offering plate? I mean, Pres. Kieschnick is constantly telling us how unrestricted funds forwarded to Synod are decreasing. I’m confused as to how it can be good stewardship to spend about $500 to travel to St. Louis to do what you do at your home church.

    The PPPadre

  21. A tacit concession to the notion of heroic prayer. God goes by the numbers (and the fervency). Think of it as a divine tracking poll. How else are you going to set policy?

  22. PPPadre: “I’m confused as to how it can be good stewardship to spend about $500 to travel to St. Louis to do what you do at your home church.”

    Wipe your confusion away with these Top Ten reasons on why “It’s OK to pay to PRAY 2009!â„¢”:

    10. Relax and enjoy St. Louis hotel’s in-room ‘mini-frig’ service with $4.00 soft drinks and $8.00 beer and wine.

    9. Surprise guest appearance from well-known prayer intercessor specialist extraordinaire.

    8. Bus trip on Thursday to the Violet Vatican to see ancient relics of “your grandfather’s church”.

    7. Register, at an affordable cost, for the next semester at the School of Praying for Healing where you will learn the secrets of “soaking prayers”.

    6. Chance to practice the financially-stretched Synod’s new jingle, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, Your praying intercessor springs.”.

  23. 5. Visit historic YS prayer booth to buy “It’s OK to Pray!â„¢” coffee mugs, caps, posters, and t-shirts. Posters with President Benke’s autograph will cost extra.

    4. Acquire those special prayer phrases that put you at the top of God’s “To Do” list!

    3. Get to see a special version of “The Music Man” with rousing songs on stage from the LCMS’s own Professor Harold Hill.

    2. Help struggling U.S. economy by spending about $500 to travel to St. Louis to do what you do at your home church.

    1. Two Words – Barnum – Bailey.

  24. Has anyone seen the latest Prayer Polls?

    Rasmussen: Power Prayer Warrior Model (sample 2615 Lutherans–all species)
    Approve 34%
    Disapprove 26%
    “What does this mean?” 40%

    Gallup: Pray only in your closet Model (sample 3,102 LCMS Lutherans)
    Approve 28%
    Disapprove 21%
    “Huh?” 51%

    FoxNews/WSJ/Washington Post/Catholic Chronicle/Christian Science Monitor Poll: Pay to Pray? (sample 5,428 LCMS Lutherans over 50)
    Approve 16%
    Disapprove 21%
    “No New Taxes!” 63%

  25. Gee, I just can’t seem to find those links! Let’s see…were they in the Reporter? I don’t think so. How about the Lutheran Witness? No, that’s not it. The “Lutheran”? No, that doesn’t sound right. Can’t put my finger on it. I guess you’re on your own, Pastor Vehse. Sorry……Say–you wouldn’t be suggesting that those “polls” were made up, would you? Nah…..
    I would not–repeat NOT–Google “Prayer Warriors”. You would not like the results.
    What is it about this stuff coming out of St. Louis that sets our collective baloney detectors beeping? We’re encouraged to pray–without ceasing–but something just doesn’t sound right. The beat goes on–more programs, another initiative, a “fresh movement”, and there’s these flashing lights and loud buzzing sounds coming from all over the Synod? Very puzzling.

  26. When I was a charismatic (early 90s) Mike Bickle’s teaching on prayer and intercession influenced my congregation heavily. He had a vision for the International House of Prayer and helped lead the prophetic movement in the 90s.

    For fun look up the International House of Prayer.

  27. Our Sr. Pastor’s from Kansas. He was telling us about “IHOP-KC” in a Bible class on prayer.

    He pointed out that, as the liturgical Christian church is spread around the world, there is prayer rising to God 24/7 from somewhere on Earth. IHOP, as an “innovation” is redundant. (He might say the same about Pray 2009.)

  28. Not sure if anyone else brought this up, but isn’t Jesus the Intercessor? What does that mean when a sinful human is our intercessor?

    I don’t know about you, but I’ll take Jesus. No offense.

  29. I have enjoyed reading the responses that have been posted regarding PRAY2009. Some have been humorous and others have been a bit mean spirited. For those there is grace and forgiveness as our Lord commands. Pastor Bira and I are not advocating a ‘new’ thing. We are aware and agree that every Lutheran engaged in liturgical worship prays for our nation, our synod, and others as the Lord leads. For some, however, and I suspect many of you fall into this category, 10 minutes of prayer, led by the pastor primarily, simply does not satisfy the desire the Lord has given His children to ‘pray without ceasing.’ So they go into their private prayer closet and pray as they are admonished by scripture and are led in their spirit. As Pastor Bira and I were involved in prayer with others regarding those who are starting new missions, we thought it good to cast the concept of a gathering of those who feel the unction to pray beyond the Sunday morning rite in the worshipping community and the opportunity in their private prayer closet to join with some others simply to celebrate the gift of prayer that the Lord has given us and to approach His throne of grace in prayer. No synod official initiated or authorized this effort although we will consider it a privilege to pray for our synod leaders. This is not a ‘political’ gathering. We will support no candidate for office. We will pray for the will of the Lord to be done in all things, including PRAY 2009. We intend nothing ‘Theophostic,’ ‘charismatic (enthusiastic),’ (although prayer is a ‘charis’ gift,) or anti-liturgical. We will in the finest sense of liturgical, upper room praying, Acts 1:15 (the 120); Acts 2:1 (all in one place); to present ourselves before the Lord and to pray for our nation, synod, districts, family, friends, etc. (2Chron. 7:13-ff) You are cordially invited to join us in prayer and to submit yourself with us to the Lord of the Church who will meet us in St. Louis (where two or three are gathered)as He does every Sunday in our congregations, to hear us. Of course Jesus is ‘The Intercessor’ but he is also the ‘The Priest.’ There is nothing inconsistent with the phrase intercessor being applied to christians, as the father is the priest of his home or the pastor is the priest of the church. We could give the dollars that will be expended, including the modest $50 registration fee, to our congregational ministries at home, but Cliff and I believe that the minds, hearts and spirits of some in our church are crying out to be gathered in one place with like minded people who will pray and are willing to sacrifice to attend PRAY2009. I believe the Lord will be well pleased with this gathering and will receive the sacrifice of our lips, minds and hearts as a fragrant offering. Please pray with us that the Lord be glorified and His Kingdom advanced through the work of his ambassadors in the earth, PRAY2009, BSJ, etc. The Lord be with you all. Peace. . .

  30. Rev. Belton,

    Thank you for your comment. We appreciate greatly your wilingness to discuss this matter. You have missed the point however in at least two major ways.

    First, you say that there will be nothing “theophostic” about this prayer time. Pastor Bira is a proponent of theophostic prayer. He promotes it whole-heartedly in his congregation and on his church web-site. Pastor Bira is co-host of this event with you. Unless Pastor Bira has told you personally that he no longer supports theophostic prayer your assertion does not make sense. Either he has renounced his support of theophostic prayer or he will be praying against his own conscience in some manner other than theophostic prayer. In other words he would have to hold his theophostic beleifs in limbo while hosting the conference and that would be disingenuous.

    Secondly, the concern we shared in the original post is that you and Pastor Bira were going to contact all the intercessors that you know and invite them to St. Louis. That implies that intercessor is some sort of a level of super-prayer. That is not only unscriptural but demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the historic use of the term intercession. It is my judgment that you have taken on a church style and vocabulary that is alien to historic, liturgical, Scriptural Lutheranism. It is alarming to me and others in the LCMS that folks like you, who have this alien approach to church, are chosen as leaders in the synod. That is the concern of the original post. I am not sure that you have addressed this concern. Maybe you think have by asserting that the ten minutes of intercession through the pastor on Sunday morning is not enough. That really does not address the concern because no one claimed that it is enough. What was claimed is that you are using the term “intercessor” in some new way describing an extra special pray-er.

    Again, thanks for your response. We still do not agree but it was respectful of you to take the time to respond and we certainly do appreciate that. Thank you for your encouragement to readers of this site to pray continously for the harvest.

    Rev. Timothy A. Rossow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.