Saturday, June 13, 2009

A legacy of prayer

I've just finished Bainton's biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand, a Life of Martin Luther. It was an excellent, entertaining, and devotional read, not only informative but thought-provoking and faith-inspiring. But before I move on to another project I'd like to linger here a bit longer and let the lessons I've learned from Luther settle in a bit. For today I'd like to dwell on his legacy of prayer.

Luther was much better known in his day as a man of prayer than he is remembered now. The fact that we have very little record of his prayers is not testimony to a lack of prayer but to the sacredness with which he held the prayer closet. He did not permit his students, who would have recorded him, access to his "secret chamber". We can get an idea, however, of the nature of his prayers from his own teaching on the Lord's Prayer. I suggest that as you read these excerpts from his exposition you ponder them and take them for your own. See if you can pray this way from your heart and not know that the Spirit of God is at work:

"O heavenly Father, dear God, I am not worthy that I should lift up mine eyes or my hands to thee in prayer, but since thou hast commanded us to pray and has taught us how through Jesus Christ our Lord, I will say, 'Give us this day our daily bread.' O dear Lord Father, give us thy blessing in this earthly life. Give us graciously thy peace and spare us from war. Grant to our Kaiser [president] wisdom and understanding that he may govern his earthly kingdom in peace and blessedness. Give to all kings, princes, and lords good counsel that they may direct their lands in quietness and justice, and especially guard the ruler of our dear land. Protect him from malignant tongues, and instill into all subjects grace to serve in fidelity and obedience. Bestow on us good weather and the fruits of the earth. We commend unto thee house, grounds, wife, and child. Help that we may govern, nourish, and rear. Ward off the Corrupter and the evil angels who impede these things. Amen

'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.' Dear Lord and Father, enter not into judgment with us, since before thee is no man living justified. Reckon not unto us our transgressions and that we are so ungrateful of all thy unspeakable mercies of the spirit and of the body, and that we daily fail more than we know or are aware. Mark not how good or evil we be, but vouchsafe to us thy unmerited mercy through Jesus Christ, thy dear Son. Forgive also all our enemies and all who have hurt and done us wrong as we also forgive them from our hearts, for they do themselves the greatest wrong in that they kindle thee against them. But we are not helped by their loss and would much rather that they be blessed. Amen. (And if anyone here feels that he cannot forgive, let him pray for grace that he may...)"

2 comments:

Andy C said...

While it would have been edifying to know more details of Luther's prayers, I find it encouraging that He held them close to his heart and shared them with the Lord only.

Jesus often prayed alone and His were between His Father and Himself. We may not be eloquent in our prayers, but the important thing is that they be ours, heartfelt and sincere.

RB said...

Thank you, Laurie for that beautiful excerpt. I found myself weeping as I read Martin Luther's prayer because he prayed with such humility and awe of the Person of God. I am challenged to stop and sit in quietness when I can before I pray and remember to Whom I am speaking.