Home > Brian's Blogs, Prayer > Prayer and the Barber, part 4

Prayer and the Barber, part 4

This week we’ve been looking at how Martin Luther prays the Scriptures. What about the Lord’s Prayer?  How does Luther incorporate Christ’s words into a prayer?

Here are Luther’s words:

“When your heart has been warmed by such recitation to yourself [of the Ten Commandments, the words of Christ, etc.] and is intent upon the matter, kneel or stand with your hands folded and your eyes toward heaven and speak or think as briefly as you can:

O Heavenly Father, dear God, I am a poor unworthy sinner. I do not deserve to raise my eyes or hands toward thee or to pray. But because thou hast commanded us all to pray and hast promised to hear us and through thy dear Son Jesus Christ hast taught us both how and what to pray, I come to thee in obedience to thy word, trusting in thy gracious promise. I pray in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ together with all thy saints and Christians on earth as he has taught us: Our Father who art, etc., through the whole prayer, word for word.”

I don’t think that Luther would be dogmatic on the posture of prayer, but it is important to note that posture does matter for him.  And doesn’t it make sense that, if we are wholistic beings, our physical posture during prayer impacts our mental approach to prayer which impacts our connection with God in prayer…

Anyway, Luther does not simply pray the Lord’s Prayer verbatim, but allows the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer to become launching pads for prayer.  Notice how Luther prays the first petition:

“Then repeat one part or as much as you wish, perhaps the first petition:

“Hallowed be thy name and say:

“Yes, Lord God, dear Father, hallowed be thy name, both in us and throughout the whole world.  Destroy and root out the abominations, idolatry, and heresy of the Turk, the pope, and all false teachers and fanatics who wrongly use thy name and in scandalous ways take it in vain and horribly blaspheme it. They insistently boast that they teach thy word and the laws of the church, though they really use the devil’s deceit and trickery in thy name to wretchedly seduce many poor souls throughout the world, even killing and shedding much innocent blood, and in such persecution they believe that they render thee a divine service.

“Dear Lord God, convert and restrain [them]. Convert those who are still to be converted that they with us and we with them may hallow and praise thy name, both with true and pure doctrine and with a good and holy life. Restrain those who are unwilling to be converted so that they be forced to cease from misusing, defiling, and dishonoring thy holy name and from misleading the poor people. Amen.”

Luther’s words on the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer are not intended to be copied by others.  Rather, this is an example of how he allows Scripture to guide and inform his prayers.  In fact, Luther specifically mentions to his barber that one may pray through the entire Lord’s Prayer or, one may remain on one petition of the Lord’s Prayer for a long time and never get to the others!  Again, this is allowing room for God to speak through His Word and take Luther where he needs to go during prayer.

So take some time today and this weekend to pray the Lord’s Prayer.  But don’t just say the Lord’s Prayer, pray it.  Allow the Lord’s Prayer to guide you in communion with God where you give thanks for who He is and what He has done, and confess who you are and what you have or have not done.  I trust that such prayer will make the words of Scripture much more formational than they have ever been.

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