Dear child of God, you are righteous before Him by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, and in such faith you pray to Him as your own dear Father in the Name and for the sake of the same Lord Jesus. Not only that, but your prayer certainly is heard by God and answered with a resounding “Yes” and “Amen” for His Name’s sake.
And yet, your own “Amen” sometimes falters and fails. For the Word and promises of the Gospel stand in sharp contradiction to your experience, to what you see and feel and suffer.
The Lord has sent His messenger before His face to speak His Holy Gospel to you, which is indeed fulfilled for you by Christ the Lord. Yet, the frailty and weakness of your sinful flesh too often gets the better of you, so that you doubt and fear, you agonize and worry, and you question the grace of God in Christ: How can you be sure of His Word and promise?
This is your lot, your calling as a Christian: To wait and to watch in silence, with nothing to rely upon but the Word of the Lord that He has spoken to you.
You cannot make it happen, nor can you make your heart believe that it will. Instead, you must be called daily to repentance, and this also is the work of the Lord your God.
He acts to save you, to deliver His people from sin, death, and the power of the devil, from unbelief and false belief, from all unrighteousness, and from every evil of heart and mind, body and soul. He Himself comes, the incarnate Son of God, to redeem you for His own, for now and forever and ever.
In order that you would be prepared for His coming and able to receive Him (not by your own reason and strength, but by His grace), He raises up and sends the Forerunner first.
Where St. John appears in the spirit and power of Elijah, preaching repentance — and, by the Word and Spirit of God, turns the people around, away from their sins back to God — there the Christ Himself is surely on the horizon, who is coming speedily to save His people from their sins, from the captivity of death, and from the tyranny of the devil.
So this messenger of the Lord goes before His face and calls you to repent: To turn away from your sins and from the death and destruction they bring; to quit your doubts and fears and your wicked refusal to believe; to give up your shame and vice and all your bad habits. To be freely and fully forgiven, and to receive the Lord’s good gifts of life and salvation.
So, then, repent, and believe the Gospel. If you are baptized, remember and return to your Baptism. And if you are not, then submit yourself to the Lord’s Baptism of repentance, in order that you may be saved by His gracious forgiveness. Either way, cease and desist your sinful ways. Refrain from your wickedness, and do what is good and right.
It’s not as though the Lord desires to deprive you of happiness. On the contrary, He alone freely bestows the true joy and gladness that are real and forever, which are found not in your sins but in His Word and faith. He calls you to repent, therefore, not in meanness, but in Love. As a father’s heart is toward his children, so is the heart of the Lord toward you, and He disciplines you in love for your good, for life and health and strength in Him.
Where your worship and prayers have faltered, do not despair, but now become faithful and attentive. Hear and heed the Word of the Lord, which He in mercy causes to be preached to you. Call upon His Name in prayer, with praise and thanksgiving. Fear, love, and trust in Him above everything else, both in prosperity and in adversity, in good times and bad.
Where you have hurt or harmed your neighbor by your words and actions, apologize, and make restitution where you are able. And where you have failed to help and support your neighbor in body or soul, do not delay any longer to do what you can, but do what you are given to do within your office and station in life.
Care for the orphans and widows in their distress, and do not neglect to care for your own spouse and children in the meantime. Serve and support the elderly and infirm. Feed the hungry. Help the poor, who are always with you. Shelter the weak and lost and homeless.
Do not be greedy or selfish, as though your life were your own to grasp and preserve, or as though your life were actually found in your possessions. And do not fail to support the Church and Ministry, the Temple and Priesthood of the Lord, with your first fruits and best gifts; for it is the House of His abode, the place where His Name and glory dwell with you.
Do not be afraid, and do not despair of His promises. Neither doubt nor worry whether they are true. The Word that God speaks is faithful and certain, whether you believe it or not. But that you should believe it, He calls you to repentance, according to His steadfast love.
The Lord is not angry with you. In His tender mercy and compassion, He comforts you with His peace. For He is your Strength and your Song, and He supplies you with all that you need for now and forever from His wellspring of Salvation. He calls you to repent, not to discourage or destroy you, but that you should receive Him who comes now to save you.
You cannot see Him, nor can you feel His presence, but He is with you, even now, even in your old age, infirmity, and weakness. His Word is Spirit, Truth, and Life. The One who promises is faithful, and He shall do it, just as He has spoken. Amen! Amen! It shall be so.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.