“My prayer,” says Jesus, “is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message.” John 17:20
In the sermon yesterday, we marveled at the fact that Jesus Himself prays for us! Yes, we respond, but He Himself, advocates for us as does the Holy Spirit. Incredible. That reminded me of a drawing, and the story that went along with it.
Have you seen the drawing, “The Praying Hands,” by German artist Albrecht Durer? It is moving in its simplicity and its power.
A story grew up around the artist and his works, especially of these hands in prayer. It is a story of sacrifice, of love and commitment. Durer, one of 18 children, had the dream of growing up to be a great artist, but he couldn’t afford it. So as the story is told, Albrecht’s brother, Albert, willingly made a promise with Albrecht, that they would draw lots and whoever won, that one would study to be a great painter and the other one would work in the gold mines as a support to the winner until it was his turn.
So Albrecht won and he devoted himself to his art studies, but he agreed to support his brother when he had achieved success with his craft. Some years later Durer returned home to do just that. But when he got there, he discovered what a sacrifice his brother had made for him. You see as Albert had worked in the mines, such hard work had done terrible things to his hands. His fingers had become twisted and stiff. His long, slender fingers and sensitive hands had literally been ruined for life. He could no longer manage the delicate brush strokes so necessary for executing fine paintings. But in spite of the price he had paid, Albert wasn’t bitter. He was happy that his brother Albrecht had attained success.
Well, one day Albrecht saw Albert kneeling, his hands now rough, entwined in silent prayer, and he quickly sketched the hands he saw. Later he used the sketch to create the drawing “The Praying Hands.” He saw his brother’s hands as a symbol of the sort of love that Jesus had shown to us.
Now, some people point out that this story must be a myth because the hands in that painting appear to be in too good of shape. They say that a miner’s hands would be more bent, broken and gnarled. Point taken. But my answer in return is this: okay then, don’t look at these hands as Albrecht’s brother’s hands, or your hands, or my hands. Look at these hands as Christ’s hands, still scarred by nails because of His willingness to let sinners nail Him to a tree. And look at His truly gnarled hands, hands that would be praying for you in ways you could not even pray for yourself. I don’t know if you fully realize how incredible that is. Trust me on this, Jesus is praying for you. That’s a powerful message of faith and joy in your life right now: to be received, reveled in, and to be put to work with hands folded in prayer.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help us see Your powerful hands in prayer for us, through words and even actions that leave us in awe, wonder and, by God’s Spirit, in faith. And when we look at His hands in faith, give us a greater sense of the sacrifices Jesus made so we could be safe indeed in God’s hands. Amen!
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz Lutheran Hour Ministries All rights reserved; not to be duplicated without permission.