Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"A Simple Way to Pray": Blogging Through Luther - Introduction

"A Simple Way to Pray": Blogging Through Luther - Introduction

I'll be the first one to admit that I do not have the prayer life I should, could, and wish. I have both preached and taught on prayer multiple times and consulted a number of great resources, ministers, and books, but I still believe it is an area of my spiritual walk that needs work.

Recently I picked up the book A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther (translated by Matthew Harrison). Luther needs no introduction, but perhaps the story of the book does.

Luther, like most of the great theologians throughout history, was a pastor. As such he was in regular communication with his congregation. One day while engaging in conversation with his barber, Peter Benkendorf, he was asked for a simple way to pray. That question resulted in the publication of this short book.

The translator introduces the book (and that background) this way:
In his many writings, Martin Luther revealed not only his thoughts but also who he was. And in his writing it becomes abundantly clear that he was a man who not only delighted in prayer but also desperately held on to it as a time to meditate on God's great and numerous blessings in contrast, and most often in opposition, to the daily assaults of Satan - something Luther called Anfechtung.

For eighteen years Luther prepared tools to train pastors to train parents to train children. Then, in 1535, when asked for advice on prayer by his barber and friend, Peter Beskendorf, the great reformer responded with a letter in which he describe his own personal practice of prayer. (3)
What will follow in the coming weeks will be an exploration of Luther's work on prayer. Typically I will blog through some academic work of theology and/or history but his time I want to explore a spiritual discipline from a man who had to lean on it his entire ministry.
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