Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Martin Luther on Prayer

'When I feel that I have become cool and joyless in prayer because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and the devil always impede and obstruct prayer), I take my little psalter, hurry to my room, or, if it be the day and hour for it, to the church where a congregation is assembled and, as time permits, I say quietly to myself and word-for-word the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and, if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do.

It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night.  Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, "Wait a little while.  I will prayer in an hour; first I must attend to this or that."  Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day...

Finally, mark this, that you must always speak the Amen firmly.  Never doubt that God in his mercy will surely hear you and say "yes" to your prayers.  Never think that you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom, all devout Christians, are standing there beside you and you are standing among them in a common, united petition which God cannot disdain.  Do not leave your prayer without having said or thought, "Very well, God has heard my prayer; this I know as a certainty and a truth."  That is what Amen means.'

Martin Luther (in Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 1087).


  1. We had a great discussion last evening about rote prayer during an adult cathecism class. I came upon the revelation that I am often not focused properly to pray properly. For me and to the glory of Christ Jesus there is great benefit to prayers said from memory. Thank you for reminding us of these words by Luther.

  2. Yea, thanks for the comment Larry. I dont know about you but when I was younger, there was an emphasis on just praying "whatever is in your mind and heart." Which of course, is not wrong in and of itself. But we make a big mistake when we leave behind the essentials of prayer, Catechism, Creed, Lord's Prayer, Psalms, Biblical canticles, hymns etc. When we place a primacy on the spontaneity of the human heart as the basis for prayer, we run the risk of robbing the voice of faith and clear teaching of scripture from young folks. I know Pr. Gutz works with Matins for the young folks at Immanuel - which is, I think, is the best way to begin the day and equip children with those words of faith, which will never fail them.


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