Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"A Simple Way to Pray": Blogging Through Luther - To Master Peter

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

As we said in our introduction to Martin Luther's work A Simple Way to Pray, Luther writes a personal letter to his barber who inspired the writer: Peter Benkendorf. He is referred to as "Master Peter" by Luther in this volume.

Luther begins by making a striking confession: "sometimes I feel I am becoming cold and apathetic about prayer" (6). Before glossing over such a comment as Luther exercising false humility, we should pause and take Luther seriously. No doubt Luther prayed more and, frankly, better than you and I, but I believe this confession is genuine. Luther himself believed there were times he felt his prayer life was "cold and apathetic." What a relief! Here is one of the great giants of the faith and here he confesses his own struggles in prayer. We are not alone.

So what does Luther do in those moments? He notes two things here in this introductory letter to Master Peter. First, "I like to take my little book of the Psalms and sneak away into a little room" or to the church and pray. Secondly, as is modeled in this little book,
I begin by saying the Ten Commandments out loud to myself, then the Creed, and if I have the time, I like to repeat certain sayings of Christ, or of Paul, or the Psalms, as the children do. This is why it is such a good idea to start your day, first thing, early in the morning, by praying, and then make it the last thing you do at the end of the day. (6)
Much of the book follows this example (though he leaves out his study of the Lord's Prayer as part of his personal prayer practice). We will explore this in future posts.

Furthermore, it is crucial to pray immediately - don't put it off. Why? Because it implies there are other things more important than prayer when in fact there isn't.

Finally, don't get distracted: "We have to be absolutely certain that we do not allow ourselves to be distracted room genuine prayer. The devil is not lazy! He will never stop attacking us." (7)

Luther provides some really helpful insight here. We all struggle with prayer, but Luther calls us to account to take it more seriously.
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