28 October 2009

How Important Is Prayer?

Part Third. Of Prayer.


(Martin Luther) On the value of praying The Lord's Prayer.

...it is most necessary first to exhort and incite people to prayer... (it) is our duty to pray because of God's commandment. (Some) think that it is all the same whether he pray or not...Why should I pray? Who knows whether God heeds or will hear my prayer? If I do not pray, some one else will. And (so) they fall into the habit of never praying, and frame a pretext (which is they say, they) reject false and hypocritical prayers.

But praying...is to call upon God in every need. Though ..the human heart by nature... always flees from God and imagines that He does not wish or desire our prayer. (But)...He will not cast us from Him nor chase us away...but rather draw us to Himself...

(What deters us from praying? Thoughts such) as: I am not holy or worthy enough; if I were...godly and holy...then I would pray. Yet...the same commandment to pray which applied to...the saints applies also to me… (And) ...(though a saint) is holier in his person, (still)....God does not regard prayer on account of the (person praying), but....His word and obedience (to it). Besides, I have just as great a need of it as those great saints--even a greater one than they. (God) will not (allow) our prayers to be in vain or lost. For if He did not intend to answer your prayer, He would not bid you pray....

In the second place, we should be the more incited to pray because God has also added a promise...as He says Ps. 50:15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee. And Christ...in... Matthew 7:7: Ask, and it shall be given you. For every one that asketh receiveth. Such promises...encourage and kindle our hearts to pray with pleasure and delight.

He (says)...that our prayer is heartily pleasing to Him, (and) that it shall assuredly be heard and granted, in order that we may not despise it or think lightly of it, and pray at a venture. This you can hold up to Him and say: Here I come, dear Father, and pray, not of my own purpose nor upon my own worthiness, but at Your commandment and promise, which cannot fail or deceive me.

...where there is to be a true prayer there must be earnestness. Men must feel their distress, and such distress as presses them and compels them to call and cry out then prayer will be made spontaneously. God also requires that you...plead necessities and wants, not because He does not know them, but that you may kindle your heart to stronger and greater desires, and make wide and open your cloak to receive much. Whenever a godly Christian prays: Dear Father let Thy will be done, God speaks from on high and says: Yes, dear child, it shall be so, in spite of the devil and all the world.

Let this be...an exhortation, that men may learn... to esteem prayer as something great and precious, and to make a proper distinction between babbling and praying for something.

  • Martin Luther on Prayer