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I have what could be considered in some circles a shameful secret.

Church meetings that start with long prayers and devotions make me fidgety and impatient – frustrated even.

Probably like yours, my life is extremely busy, and my spare time is limited. I feel much more comfortable when agenda items are ticked off quickly and action is the name of the game. Why take three or more hours to achieve what could have been done in 60 to 90 minutes?

I still believe that but, after editing the beautiful stories, testimonies and devotional resources in this edition, I was reminded of something critical: Prayer always comes first. Before we decide. Before we act. Even when the need is urgent – like sharing the hope of the gospel with those who don’t yet know Jesus.

As Pastor Nathan Hedt writes on page 5: ‘I’m convinced that the first step in vibrant, joyful mission is learning from what Jesus said in Luke 10:2. Mission doesn’t begin in action … The praying precedes the going. The command (and invitation) to pray precedes the command and invitation to go. Prayer is a vital foundation for mission.’

Pausing to pray – even momentarily – is the best antidote to impatience. It is the best insurance that our next act will be what Jesus would do. And prayer is a really good investment of time before we speak (or write) too, especially in difficult, urgent or vexed situations.

These prayers don’t need to be long; they don’t need to be complex. Just ‘Show me your will, God’ or ‘God, help me’ surrenders us into his loving hands, expresses our reliance on God, pushes down our pride and can soothe our anxieties.

I always need to pray before, during and after writing these editorials, that God will give me words to encourage and build up you, our readers, and, perhaps, challenge each of us a little, too.

This edition we are focused on the LCANZ’s Season of Prayer, which may seem strange as we’ve already established that every season is a season of prayer. But this particular two-week, three-Sunday observation scheduled in September is designed to hone and unite our churchwide prayer efforts. It is prayer with an intentional, coordinated, concerted quality about it and a theme of mission, church renewal and church planting.  So, among the many resources you’ll always find in The Lutheran, there are those to support your participation in this year’s Season of Prayer observation.

As well as our regular columns, news and views, too, our print subscribers receive a copy of Border Crossings, which shares more exciting and enlightening stories about LCA International Mission’s work with our overseas partners. (Digital subscribers can head to to access a digital copy under the Resources tab.)

May God bless your reading – and your praying!

PS – We apologise that some subscriber invoices have been delayed and have been working hard to remedy the issues causing this. Thank you for your patience and support.

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Bishop Paul’s letter

Rev Paul Smith
Bishop, Lutheran Church of
Australia and New Zealand

At the beginning of this century, I was called to serve as pastor for the people of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in the rural Queensland city of Toowoomba. This congregation of our Lutheran Church was a place full of passion for the mission of God. The congregation’s ministries included an outreach kids club for local families. The congregation supported Concordia Lutheran Primary and Salem Lutheran Aged Care.

Good Shepherd also had all your standard Lutheran congregational things such as Sunday school, confirmation, women’s guild, fellowship groups, a parish worker, youth group, ‘shut-in’ ministry and support for the wider church. When I arrived in 2001, Good Shepherd had grown to be one of the largest congregations in our church in Queensland.

I share this with you to point to a key part of the congregation’s history. Less than 50 years before I arrived as pastor, under the ministry of Pastor A H Koehler, Good Shepherd had been started as a church plant in what was originally an industrial transport hall in the growing southwest part of Toowoomba. With the opening service in 1964 with sermons from pastors K Marquart and N Habel, this new church was ‘planted’ by its neighbouring congregation, Redeemer.

Our history in the LCANZ is a history of church planting. From Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Hermannsburg Northern Territory to St Martins in Marton, New Zealand; from St John’s in Hopevale, Queensland, to Hope in Geraldton, Western Australia, to St Andrews in Nightcliff NT and St Peters Hobart in Tasmania, we Lutherans have been busily church planting for generations.

This is our heritage because this is our Lord’s command and promise. When we learn Martin Luther’s catechism, we are given Matthew 28 to memorise. ‘Go to all nations’, commands our Lord Jesus. ‘I will be with you always!’, he promises.

In June this year, I was privileged to be the guest preacher for the 150th anniversary of Trinity Lutheran congregation, just outside of Appila in South Australia’s Mid North. Their Scripture reading for the Sunday service was Matthew 28. This was most fitting for the occasion. For 150 years this congregation has had an extraordinary impact on the life of our Lutheran Church, especially in the formation of many church workers who have served at home and abroad.

It is significant that the text of Matthew 28 tells of the risen Lord sending ‘doubters’. Verse 17 reads, ‘When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted’. But our Lord does not divide the disciples into the ‘doubters’ and ‘the rest’ so that he can avoid sending the doubters. Verse 17 is followed by the command we know as the Great Commission, spoken to both the doubters and the rest.

The Lord gathers us into his mission with all our struggles and uncertainties. The people of Trinity Appila would gladly acknowledge that they are ordinary people caught up in the extraordinary mission of God.

In our modern Lutheran Church in New Zealand and Australia, we are seeing significant changes. Like many congregations, both Trinity Appila and Good Shepherd Toowoomba are no longer the size they were at the turn of this century. But this change in demography must not distract God’s people from the Great Commission. The mission field may have changed but the mission has not.

Matthew 28 commands us to go to all nations, making disciples and teaching them to obey everything that our Lord commanded. In our contemporary communities in New Zealand and Australia, we study Scripture with fervour and purpose, to discern what the Lord wants us to ‘teach’ in his name.

Matthew 28 commands us to go to all nations, making disciples and baptising. In our contemporary communities, we are called to cherish baptism in our own lives and in the lives of others. In public media and online, we rarely hear of the precious gift of baptism. We who are baptised into Christ declare to the world, with St Paul, that we were buried with Christ by baptism into his death and raised to walk in newness of life.

‘Go to all nations’, commands our risen Lord Jesus.

In Christ,

Lord Jesus, we belong to you,
you live in us, we live in you;
we live and work for you –
because we bear your name.

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by Nathan Hedt

Do you long to see your local congregation playing a vital role in growing God’s kingdom? Would you love to see new people coming to faith in Jesus through your local church? Do you sense the call of God to be more focused on reaching out beyond your church walls and programs into the community with the gospel?

If you answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions, please read on. I know that these characteristics of a vibrant, thriving church can seem like a distant reality. We can all feel discouraged sometimes about having too little time, energy or know-how to play a role in the Great Commission with our faith family.

A congregational pastor contacted me recently lamenting the lack of a mission heart and asking questions like the ones above. ‘But where would we even begin if we wanted to become more outwardly focused?’ he asked.

I think my reply might have surprised him. It wasn’t about a new outreach program or mission group – or even about doing anything visible. It was about whether there were people praying for these things in the local congregation.

I’m convinced that the first step in vibrant, joyful mission is learning from what Jesus said in Luke 10:2. Mission doesn’t begin in action, getting out there and doing something. It begins in the heart of God. In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 72 local missionaries to proclaim the kingdom of God. He says to them in this passage, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few … so go!’

Hang on a minute! That’s an intentional misquote, isn’t it?

In fact, those words are more like what I would have said if I were Jesus: ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. There’s no time to waste; get your skates on and get moving. There’s not many of you and there’s a lot of work to do! So GO!’

But what Jesus actually says is unexpected and surprising. ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. So pray. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, beg him to send out workers into his harvest fields.’ The word he uses has the meaning of ‘plead with, beg, ask urgently’ for God to send out harvest workers.

The praying precedes the going. The command (and invitation) to pray precedes the command and invitation to go. Prayer is a vital foundation for mission.

One of the best definitions of prayer that I have heard comes from Queensland District Bishop Mark Vainikka: ‘Prayer is being present to the presence of God.’

Prayer comes first. In mission and in our life as Christians, prayer – as a relationship with God – is foundational to everything else we do.

By prayer, I don’t just mean laying a ‘shopping list’ of requests before God. Prayer is first and foremost about a relationship. Prayer is about being present to the presence of God, deepening the relationship of intimacy with the Father, conversing and listening to the Spirit, and walking with Jesus. In prayer, we receive a heart that beats in time with God’s heart of love for a lost and broken world.

Out of this intimacy with God will grow forms of prayer such as:

  • Worship: reverencing and adoring God for who he is
  • Petition: asking God to provide good gifts for his children and the world
  • Intercession: praying deeply for the needs of others and ‘standing in the gap’ for them
  • Thanksgiving: giving thanks and praise to God for his good gifts and what he has done
  • Confession: bringing our sins and failings in honesty before our loving and forgiving God
  • Repentance: a turning away from everything that breaks intimacy with God and brings harm to us or others and
  • Contemplative prayer (simply sitting silently enjoying the presence of God).

So, first, pray. Everything begins with prayer. As Paul wrote to the Colossian church: ‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful’ (Colossians 4:2).

Or, as we see the early church doing in Acts 2:42–47: ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’ And what was the result of this? ‘The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved!’

In Acts 6:4 we hear the apostles saying, ‘… we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word’.


Talking about prayer can often lead us to feel guilty that our prayer life is not what it should be. It can be seen as a burden, just another thing we must do, especially when it comes to intercessory prayer.

But our life of prayer is not a demand – it’s an invitation! The Triune God graciously invites us deeper into his life, his heart, his love, his joy, his peace. Remember that prayer is primarily about relationship, not about doing things! God meets you where you are at in prayer! Jesus is interceding for you! The Holy Spirit is translating your perhaps fumbling attempts at prayer! The Father’s heart rejoices to have you bask in his presence!

Truly, if you dwell in God’s presence in faith, you can’t get prayer ‘wrong’.

Like all relationships, prayer requires an investment of time. Jesus often withdrew from his ministry among the crowds to pray – that is, to dwell in the presence of his heavenly Father. Prayer can involve specific action – perhaps putting petitions, intercessions, repentance etc, in words to God, silently or spoken aloud; or putting aside time for these aspects of prayer. But this is action that comes out of identity. It is doing that comes out of being.

St Paul writes in Philippians 4: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

This rejoicing, and this peace of God, is in the context of prayer, and this prayer is in the context of being present to the presence of God. ‘The Lord is near.’ Therefore, we can live without anxiety. Therefore, we can present prayer, petition and thanksgiving. Therefore, we have the peace that passes understanding.


In this spirit of invitation deeper into the life and joy of God, the Local Mission department calls the LCANZ to a specific and intentional annual Season of Prayer.

We invite you and your congregation to join the Season of Prayer, and to pray specifically for spiritual revival, hope and joy in our church, for the mission call of our local congregations, for new people to come to see Jesus, and for God to raise up and send out harvest workers into the plentiful fields of people in Australia and New Zealand who don’t know Jesus yet.

The Season of Prayer is set aside for two weeks from 10 to 24 September. However, our hope and prayer is that this will be a catalyst for an ongoing life of deepening prayer in our churches.

Some people may be moved by the Holy Spirit to take up the spiritual discipline of fasting along with the season of prayer. Some may want to get together with others to intercede specifically for their congregation and community. Some may want to use prayer resources in their family or small group. Some may take the invitation to pray alone. And you can read individual reflections shared on these pages.

Resources are being provided for various aspects of the Season of Prayer, including material to be used in public worship on the three Sundays of the season.

Testimonies and encouragements will come from real people who have experienced the power of prayer in real ways. Themed devotional resources are also being made available for families and individuals and others themed on intercessory prayer will be offered aimed at congregations and communities who are praying for God to send harvest workers and that they themselves will be revived and refreshed and joyful in their mission.

You can find these at


  • Contact your church council or worship planners to focus on prayer during between September 10 and 24 – SAVE THE DATES!
  • Join the Epaphras project (see article on pages 10–12) and participate with prayer warriors in every place
  • Join the pre-existing fortnightly national prayer Zoom online meeting
  • Organise a once-off prayer group or prayer vigil
  • Start praying with a prayer partner or prayer triplet
  • Pray with the resources provided in your family or small group
  • Include one of the video testimonials about prayer in your public worship
  • Pray for people by name who don’t know Jesus as Saviour and Lord using a downloadable prayer card
  • Contact Local Mission to be updated
  • Record a brief testimonial about specific answers to prayer on your smartphone


  • Do I long to see my congregation reaching out more effectively with the good news of Jesus?
  • Do I experience the call to prayer as a burden or an invitation? Why do I think that is so?
  • What good news might Jesus want to bring me about my life of prayer?
  • What would it look like in practice if my congregation were ‘devoted to prayer’?
  • What is the Holy Spirit inviting me to pray for during the Season of Prayer?
  • For whom is the Spirit nudging me to pray, that they may grow closer to Jesus?
  • With whom might I deliberately spend time praying in the Season of Prayer?

Pastor Nathan Hedt is LCANZ Pastor for New and Renewing Churches.

For more information, contact Local Mission on 08 8267 7300 or at 

Receiving affirmation in challenging times

I believe God is calling us to plant a church in Gawler, north of Adelaide. This may sound counter-productive to some, considering there is already a Lutheran church in Gawler, of which I’m a member. But the call came when we prayerfully discerned what God was up to in our community.

Through COVID-19 restrictions, we were unable to access our normal worship routine, but found a unique opportunity to worship in the local school. It was through prayer, that God provided a vision for reaching the school community, and this is the beginning of our journey.

Under the body of Gawler Lutheran Church, New Life Church is an intentional move to incorporate worship and a faith community at the school. As with any new venture, we have had challenging moments of doubt, resistance, and even health challenges.

At our most challenging times, we’ve intentionally set aside time for deep prayer. In these moments, God has actively been present in affirming our work, redirecting our vision and encouraging us in profound ways. The power of prayer has been integral in our journey. The Lord has prepared hearts and minds, protected us from threats of doubt, fear and resistance (‘the enemy at the gate’), and kept us firm in his promises.

I urge and encourage all congregations to seek out specific ‘prayer warriors’ in your church community. They are the lifeblood of any church vision. God bless your journey.

– Joanne Chamberlain

‘United, lifted up and encouraged’

There is great encouragement and comfort in the knowledge that you are being lifted up to God in prayer. I hope you have experienced this in your life.

I’d like to share my experience of this welcome encouragement during the LCANZ’s first churchwide Season of Prayer for church planting in 2019.

I have been involved in a missional community and church planting team for many years. Working in this space has its highs and lows, times of joy and discouragement.

We want the wider church to be encouraged by the joys and to pray with us in challenging times, but sometimes it feels like we’re on the edge of the church, with most of the LCANZ unaware.

However, when the first churchwide Season of Prayer was held, it brought a focus to this missional work. The wider church had a chance to hear and be encouraged by the work of Local Mission, as well as joining in prayer for God to raise up and send out harvest workers into his fields.

And for me, there was something powerfully encouraging in knowing that Lutherans in congregations all across Australia and New Zealand were united in this prayer.

I pray that this year’s Season of Prayer can again bring mutual encouragement as we pray together for renewal, mission, evangelism, church planting and discipleship in the LCANZ.

– Kate Traeger

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by Darren Kupke

About 10 years ago, Pastor Fred Veerhuis organised some NSW District gatherings and from one of these, a district intercessory prayer team was started.

As we became aware of various prayer needs of the district, they were shared via email with the team.

When Fred retired a few years later, he asked me to oversee this group. This continued, until we realised a glitch had deleted most of the email addresses we had. We would have to rebuild the list from scratch. At about the same time, the pandemic sent our ministries into survival mode, so this was postponed.

Later, Pastor Nathan Hedt invited me to join his Local Mission prayer group on Zoom. I received considerable encouragement and healing through this.

In mid-2022, a discussion with District Bishop Robert Bartholomaeus led me to consider my district roles and my giftings. I felt God prompting me to ask to be released from one district role and devote time into cultivating prayer ministry in the NSW & ACT District.

Bishop Robert was overjoyed. He had just finished reading Anatomy of a Revived Church by Thom S. Rainer. Rainer surveyed many churches that had nearly died but which God had revived.

While some things varied from church to church, there were seven key findings that were present in every case. One reason God revived all these churches was because they ‘committed to powerful prayer’.

He writes:

‘I have yet to see a sustained church revitalisation that was not undergirded by a powerful movement of prayer. … We have seen churches turn around for a brief season with a new methodology or a new emphasis. We have seen some churches reverse their negative trends briefly with a new pastor or dynamic staff member. But we have yet to see a sustained church revitalisation that was not undergirded by a powerful movement of prayer’ (Rainer 2020, p.59).

This renewed focus on prayer in the district has become a highlight for me and the bishop.

So far, two projects have helped cultivate prayers in our district.

Firstly, we have re-established a list of email addresses for district intercessors. This is used as certain specific prayer needs arise.

Secondly, each month I collate prayer points from those in our district prayer calendar. These are then shared with pastors, congregations, ministry leaders and intercessors in our district. This reminds them to pray and helps them to pray specifically. I continue to receive much positive feedback in this regard.

The next step is to cultivate the network between intercessors. I’m starting to gather a team to organise a gathering of district intercessors.

We believe God has placed intercessors in every congregation and we want to encourage them by gathering and praying together. I’m also exploring the best way for our district intercessors to connect and share insights and encouragement. As we commit to powerful prayer, may God revive our church.

Pastor Darren Kupke is Prayer Cultivator for the NSW & ACT District and serves the Lutheran communities at Temora, Trungley Hall and West Wyalong.

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by Nathan Hedt

What or who on earth is an Epaphras?

Epaphras is a biblical character who is only mentioned in four verses of the New Testament. He is not exactly the most famous or glamourous person but for the little Christian church in the city of Colossae, he was one of the most important people!

First, Epaphras was an evangelist. He was one of the first to share the gospel with the people of Colossae (Colossians 1:6–8). But just as importantly, Epaphras also served the Christians of his city in a different way; a behind-the-scenes way that quietly and powerfully shaped the church.

St Paul tells us that Ephaphras was ‘always wrestling in prayer’ for Christians, so that they might ‘stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured’ (Colossians 4:12). Epaphras is working hard in prayer! We might call him an intercessor or a prayer warrior.

Do you know someone in your congregation who has a calling from God to get on their knees and beg God for the spiritual maturity, Christlikeness and mission of the people of the local church?

Or perhaps, does the description of Epaphras stir and excite something in your own heart?

I dare to believe that in every place, in every church, God graciously puts at least one person like Epaphras. In every place, God provides people whose gifting and calling is simply to pray, intercede and be persistent with him for the growth and maturity of the congregation.

I also believe that spirit-empowered, persistent prayer is the foundation of each ministry and mission opportunity of every congregation.

That’s why LCANZ Local Mission is launching the Epaphras Project. The project aims to identify, equip, affirm and network the intercessors – the Epaphras-type people – in every congregation across the church.

We recognise that the ‘renewing’ part of our work is vitally important. Our work is to see congregations of the LCANZ renewed in their mission, become healthier and make new disciples of Jesus. And that really can’t happen without a foundation of persistent, focused prayer, just as Epaphras was praying for the Christians at Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Usually, a few members – perhaps one, two or three – are faithful in prayer for church revitalisation. But God uses these few for this ministry of prayer.

It often takes several years of persistent prayer for the congregation to move from decline or stagnation to revitalisation and growth.

Thom Rainer, a church consultant in the USA, has helped hundreds of congregations revitalise and step into God’s vibrant future.

Out of his practice and research, he’s written a book called The Anatomy of a Revived Church. He concludes a chapter on prayer in this way:

‘If you are seeking immediate application to the principle of powerful prayer in your church, begin praying God will provide a prayer warrior. Even more, ask the members in the church if God might be moving in their lives to lead a ministry of prayer for revitalisation.

‘We have seen again and again in our anatomy of revitalised churches that every sustained church revitalisation is undergirded by a powerful movement of prayer. Every. Single. One. It’s just that important.’

So, I’m starting the Epaphras Project firstly by praying. I’m praying that God will raise up and bring forth one or more ‘Epaphrases’ for every congregation of the LCANZ.


Firstly, and most importantly, you can get involved by joining me in this prayer: ‘Loving God, please raise up the Epaphras-type people in our congregation. Please affirm and equip our intercessors to provide persistent prayer. Align our hearts with your heart.’

You can also help identify and talk to the Epaphras-type person (or people) in your congregation.

Ask them to read this article if they haven’t already done so. Ask whether they are willing to join the movement of prayer, and pray specifically for spiritual maturity, renewal and mission in your congregation.

If you are in congregational leadership, you can approach your ‘Epaphrases’ and ask them to pray specifically for ministry and mission in your congregation. I guarantee if you find them and ask them, they will be delighted to do so. This is their God-given gift and joy! Affirm and encourage them.

Or you might find yourself resonating with what I’ve written here. I’d encourage you to ask, ‘Holy Spirit, might I be one of these intercessors? How do you want me to use this gift to serve your people?’ If you sense you are an ‘Epaphras,’ please get in touch! You can email

Our hope and prayer is to network the prayer warriors in the LCANZ and provide recognition, encouragement, training and suggestions for prayer.

We long to see everyone and every congregation ‘stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured’ (Col 4:12). We long to see people be able to ‘make the most of every opportunity’ for mission in their conversation and action (Col 4:5,6).

Who on earth is Epaphras? He is an intercessor. Who on earth are the Epaphrases in your congregation? They just may be among the quietest, least famous, but most vital people in your church!

Will you join the Epaphras Project?

Prayer suggestion:

Gracious Triune God, we thank you that you invite us deeper into your life and mission through prayer, which is not just asking you for things, but dwelling with you and letting your word permeate our lives.

Would you please raise up someone like Epaphras for (my congregation), and encourage them in the ministry of intercession? Would you please provide prayer warriors in every congregation of the LCANZ, and empower them to wrestle in prayer for your people?

Would you please continue to pour out your Spirit on the members and congregations of the LCANZ, to bring renewed life, a vibrant future and a deep joy in our shared mission with you? Would you please use our local congregation to help people to get to know Jesus, and to help people walk with him more closely?

Thank you for your gracious gifts, including prayer warriors and intercessors like Epaphras! We pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Prayer is the work!

On 29 January 2023, the day of the Epaphras Project rollout in Victoria’s Ringwood Knox Parish, I heard it expressed for the first time in Lutheran circles that prayer is the most important thing we can do. Prayer is the work!

The call to action was challenging and encouraging. And God laid it on the hearts of nine brothers and sisters at Ringwood to pray together for his work.

So, we gather on Sundays to talk about the things God has laid on our hearts and minds during the week. Then we pray our agreed-together prayers. We thank and praise God for his love and care. We pray for our pastor/s, for inspiration by the Holy Spirit with every word God knows we need to hear, for the direction of our congregation and that God will take us to those who don’t yet know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We pray for many other things, too!

The ‘enable, grow and go’ aspects of our congregation remain a work in progress, but there is a vibe around answered prayer. We are hearing of individuals asking for particular Bible studies and prayer regarding evangelism, and we are providing copies of Australian evangelist Sam Chan’s book How to talk about Jesus (without being that guy) for inspiration.

We know God wouldn’t lay prayers on our hearts if his answers to these prayers were not already set in motion!

–   Liz Wieland

Be like Epaphras – Colossians 4:12

Anyone who really knows me knows that prayer for others – intercession – is part of who I am. It’s part of standing in the gap for other people, inviting the Lord’s touch into their lives. And the Holy Spirit has led me on many adventures in intercession, and also in recognising answers to prayer.

To heed this call to pray for others, to follow the Spirit’s leading in taking God at his word, is to discover a reach beyond ourselves, asking the Lord’s working into the earth-realm. It’s a journey of growth, available to anyone!

In February 2023, I joined Emeritus Pastor Fred Veerhuis in teaching, via Zoom, Lutheran pastors and leaders in Vietnam. In one of my sessions on prayer, I focused on Epaphras, Paul’s co-worker. I encouraged them to take notice of who among their people is like an Epaphras, to encourage them.

People who pray for others help prepare the ‘soil’ in people to be receptive to the ‘seed’ of God’s word, the good news of Jesus. We will only find out in heaven the difference it has made.

I look forward to that, as well as being available here now!

–  Ruth Olsen

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Resources for your time with God

Introduced during a time of COVID-related church closures and restrictions, our devotional pages under the Church@home banner have been very popular with many readers. But spending time with God throughout the week isn’t only a blessing when we can’t get to church on a Sunday. It’s an important boost for our faith every week. Therefore, you’ll continue to find support for your devotional life on these pages – and the LCANZ has plenty of other resources which we’ll highlight for your information, too.

– Lisa


Are you listening God? by Colleen Fitzpatrick

Answer me quickly, for I am in trouble (Psalm 69:17b).

Read Psalm 69:7–10, (11–15)16–18.

In 1963, Jimmy Little recorded a song called ‘The Royal Telephone’. The words of the chorus are:

‘Telephone to glory, oh, what joy divine!
I can feel the current moving on the line.
Made by God the Father for his very own,
You may talk to Jesus on this royal telephone.’*

It’s a nice image, isn’t it? I remember back then picturing Jesus at the ready, waiting for that royal telephone to ring so he could pick it up, listen to whatever I had to say, and then he’d get busy fixing whatever was bothering me at the time.

How blessed we are to be able to talk to God any time, any day, anywhere, in any language or in no language. We don’t even have to formulate words.

I love to pray. It’s so good to be able to share whatever is on my heart and know that my heartaches and joys are shared – that someone cares about what is happening to me and that someone is bigger than me or anything that can happen to me.

How do we know our prayers have been answered? It’s not as if God sends an answer via a messenger angel. Sometimes, prayers are answered in an obvious manner – the cure of a disease or the easing of a situation. Sometimes, the answer comes from friends or strangers reaching out with words of comfort or wisdom. At other times, it may be a sense of inner peace, comfort and strength that enables us to keep going, knowing that we are not alone.

We have a prayer group at my church – actually, it is two: an online group and an in-person group. Prayer requests are shared, and it is wonderful to know that we’re not alone in taking these requests to our gracious, generous, attentive God. I also like that I can ask people if it’s okay for my prayer group to pray for them. No-one has said no to that request. It’s easy to say, ‘I’m off to my prayer group. Do you have any requests?’ And often, they do.

And back to that royal telephone. Maybe, it is an even better metaphor for our prayers now, given the constant presence of our phones, the information they contain, and the control they have over our lives. May your prayers provide the comfort and strength you need today and every day – you can pray even when you’ve left your phone at home!

Patient God, thank you for always hearing and answering our prayers. Thank you for the surprises you provide. Help us to be patient when things don’t turn out as we hope and plan and trust that all things will work together for our good – no matter what happens. Amen.

*Frederick M Lehmann (1868–1953), ‘The Royal Telephone’ (public domain), made popular in Australia by Jimmy Little

Full attention by Tom Brennen

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42).

Read Acts 2:36–42.

A note in my study Bible on this passage reminds us that to be devoted is to give rapt attention to that particular thing. So the early Christians gave rapt attention to teaching, being a community and sharing the sacrament of communion and prayer.

When was the last time you could honestly say your church had your rapt attention? More importantly, when was the last time that God had your rapt attention?

Sometimes members of younger generations are tagged as selfish. These younger generations are also generalised as always being on their phones and technology. As a teacher, I see my students struggle to manage technology use.

But they are not alone. Just last week, outside my school, I saw two of my students on their phones, joined by their parents and one of their grandparents. All five of them were sitting there on a glorious late spring day, heads down, consuming whatever was on their screen. The screens had their rapt attention.

I don’t believe that technology is more evil than good. Having a myriad of resources at my fingertips helped me write this series of devotions! But we must be careful.

We must be careful not just with technology but with all of our endeavours. Perhaps our work has more attention than our relationship with God? Maybe our hobbies have more attention than our involvement with our church community?

As Matthew 6:21 reminds us, ‘For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’.

The early church grew off the back of rapt attention to worshipping in word and sacrament, being a Christian community and prayer. What might your life look like if this area of your life had your full attention? What changes do you need to make so that it is?

Start small. Maybe you’ve fallen out of the habit of weekly worship or daily prayer? Perhaps you’ve not connected with a fellow congregation member for some time? Perhaps your Bible has gathered a bit of dust? Pick one area and work on that.

You – and your community – will be blessed, I’m sure.

Lord, forgive us when we give you and your church less than our full attention. Guide us as we seek to live lives that are full and bless others. Amen.

To receive the LCA daily devotion each morning in your inbox, go to and select Daily Devotions from the Churchwide list after entering your email address. These can also be printed off from the LCA website at


Week Sunday readings
6–12 AUG Genesis 32:22–31 Psalm 17:1–7,15 Romans 9:1–5 Matthew 14:13–21
13–19 AUG Genesis 37:1–4, 12–28 Psalm 105:1–6, 16–22, 45b Romans 10:5–15 Matthew 14:22–33
20–26 AUG Genesis 45:1–15 Psalm 133 Romans 11:1, 2a, 29–32 Matthew 15:(10–20) 21–28
27 AUG–2 SEPT Exodus 1:8– 2:10 Psalm 124 Romans 12:1–8 Matthew 16:13–20
3–9 SEPT Exodus 3:1–15 Psalm 105:1–6, 23–26, 45c Romans 12:9–21 Matthew 16:21–28
10–16 SEPT Exodus 12:1–14 Psalm 149 Romans 13:8–14 Matthew 18:15–20
17–23 SEPT Exodus 14:19–31 Psalm 114 Romans 14:1–12 Matthew 18:21–35
24–30 SEPT Exodus 16:2–15 Psalm 105:1–6, 37–45 Philippians 1:21–30 Matthew 20:1–16

For more prayer and devotional resources, including a listing of daily Bible readings for each day of the church year, go to

Lutheran Tract Mission also provides the readings in a booklet, which can be accessed electronically at or as a printed booklet through the LTM office (phone 08 8360 7222) for a donation of 20c per copy.  


6–12 Aug: First Nations people around the globe on the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous People (9 Aug)

13–19 Aug: Peace among nations at war on the anniversary of the end to WWII hostilities in the Pacific (15 Aug)

20–26 Aug: Communities scarred by slavery, on the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (23 Aug)

27 Aug–2 Sept: Those who care for God’s creation, as the Season of Creation – a worldwide ecumenical movement focused on prayer and creation care – begins on 1 Sept

3–9 Sept: All fathers, those who are missing their dads and those who have longed to be fathers, as we mark Father’s Day (3 Sept)

10–16 Sept: That God will raise up workers for the harvest of souls, as the church celebrates the Season of Prayer for mission (10–24 Sept)

17–23 Sept: An end to discrimination preventing universal suffrage on the anniversary of NZ’s 1893 Electoral Act, which gave women the vote (19 Sept)

24–30 Sept: Pastor Andrew Brook, as he begins his service as bishop of the SA – NT District of the LCANZ

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by Jodi Brook and Christine Matthias

‘Living the Catechism’ is a new resource designed to introduce your household, family or small group to Martin Luther’s Small Catechism and to help them learn about the teachings of the Christian faith.

Luther felt strongly about the need for a clear explanation of faith and life! His Small Catechism was written to be the family’s Christian handbook. It is an excellent summary of what the Bible teaches us, including subjects such as repentance, faith, prayer, forgiveness, daily prayer and our daily work.


Luther’s Small Catechism is a collection of questions and answers on the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, holy baptism, confession and holy communion.

Also included are daily prayers, a table of duties for Christians in their various life callings, and a guide for Christians to use as they prepare to receive holy communion.


God uses the precious truths of his word to keep us strong and growing in our faith in Jesus. The catechism helps us understand God’s law, which shows us our sin and how we are to live as his people. The catechism beautifully articulates the gospel, the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for our salvation.


Our team has prepared 28 easy-to-use sheets, which teach three topics: the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed.

Each sheet follows a basic framework to help discuss each topic and relate it to everyday life. It consists of the following elements:

  • What does this mean? This explanation correlates to Luther’s Small Catechism and explains the specific petition or commandment to discuss.
  • Conversations: Hearing each other’s faith story provides an opportunity for openness and relevance to the topics being discussed.
  • Bible readings: Our faith shapes the whole of our lives and involves a lifetime of studying the Bible.
  • Action response: Serving others together provides an opportunity to see people’s gifts, faith and values in action, and to show practically how the topic relates to everyday life.
  • Prayer: Rituals and traditions such as prayers and devotions communicate meaning and relationships that exist between the people of God.
  • For further study: Another opportunity to find out more about our faith and each other.

Grow recommends that the resource be used alongside a copy of Luther’s Small Catechism. Households can use a different sheet each week, fortnight or month, depending on how much time they can dedicate to family devotion time.

We pray that this resource provides you and your household, family, or small group with a wonderful opportunity to share and discuss life and faith together.

Jodi Brook is Grow Ministries Director. Christine Matthias is Grow’s Resource Coordinator.

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by Libby Krahling

LCANZ congregations are being encouraged to hold a special service on 3 September to mark the start of the ‘Season of Creation’ and new worship resources have been launched for this occasion.

An ecumenical response to the environmental crisis impacting the world, the Season of Creation is a time of prayer and action for the environment. It is celebrated from 1 September to 4 October as an alternative to the regular time after Pentecost. Each year the event has a particular themed focus connected with an aspect of the environment, to raise awareness and inspire responsible environmental action. The 2023 theme is ‘Let Justice and Peace Flow’, based on Amos 5:24.


The LCA Season of Creation worship resources, launched by the church’s Commission on Worship in collaboration with Lutheran Earth Care Australia and New Zealand, endeavour to point God’s people to the hope that we have in the midst of environmental chaos – Christ as the redeemer of the world, who sustains all things by his powerful word and will make all things new.

There are two suites of resources congregations can choose from: the first is more foundational and general in nature and could be used in any year, while the second suite has been tailored for the 2023 theme.

To view the LCA Season of Creation resources, visit the Seasonal Resources page,

For more information about the Season of Creation, visit the Season of Creation website at

Libby Krahling is Commission on Worship Administration Coordinator.

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by Anne Hansen

How often do we pray expecting an answer that next minute? Then, when it goes unanswered that day, we decide that God doesn’t answer prayer!

I think we have all come to that conclusion more than once, but how untrue and unfair this conclusion is to our loving Heavenly Father. Our God is a God of miracles who finds delight in answering the prayers of his people as he sees fit and in his timing.

As Christian author Lysa TerKeurst said, ‘God’s not ignoring you. He just loves you too much to answer your prayers at any time than the right time’.

God has always proven his faithfulness to his people by rescuing them from trouble and answering prayers in miraculous ways. Just read through the stories in the Old Testament! God is always faithful and trustworthy. He hears our prayers and knows all our needs, even before we ask. So, if you have prayers that you have been praying for some time, keep the faith. God is at work behind the scenes.


Lutheran Tract Mission has many resources for you about prayer. Some help you pray personally and give tips on how to pray for others. Others encourage you to pray at all times and in all ways. Stick a postcard or text card about prayer on your refrigerator to remind you to pray. Find a bookmark about prayer and put it in a book.

Look at our website to find what you need for your ministry:

Please share stories with me of how tracts have spoken and reached you and others in your community! Give others new ideas as to how to use tracts in sharing God’s love!

Nothing is impossible for God, and he always hears you!

Anne Hansen is Lutheran Tract Mission Development Officer.

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