Golden and Noble Works

“A wife too should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works."
Martin Luther

Friday, April 1, 2011

More on Prayer

*In continuing our discussion on prayer I had this to add. Long post alert, sorry!

As a Christian I want to pray more. And we know, as Christians we are commanded to pray. It isn't optional. But I find myself thinking that way about it. Here is what Luther says about prayer.
"Prayer is therefore as strictly and earnestly commanded as all other commandments: to have no other God, not to kill, not to steal, etc."

"there stands the commandment, Thou shalt and must do it, so also here it is not left to my will to do it or leave it undone, but prayer shall and must be offered at the risk of God's wrath and displeasure."

"This is therefore to be understood and noted before everything else, in order that thereby we may silence and repel the thoughts which would keep and deter us from praying, as though it were not of much consequence if we do not pray, or as though it were commanded those who are holier and in better favor with God than we; as, indeed, the human heart is by nature so despondent that it always flees from God and imagines that He does not wish or desire our prayer, because we are sinners and have merited nothing but wrath."

"In the second place, we should be the more urged and incited to pray because God has also added a promise, and declared that it shall surely be done to us as we pray, as He says, Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee. Ps. 51:15 And Christ in the Gospel of St.Matthew Ask, and it shall be given you. For every one that asketh receiveth. Matt. 7:7 Such promises ought certainly to encourage and kindle our hearts to pray with pleasure and delight, since He testifies with His [own] word that our prayer is heartily pleasing to Him, moreover, 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."
Since having babies I have fallen into the habit of not making prayer a daily habit, so this is not easy stuff for me to hear. But what my flesh needs to hear. The flesh that must drown and die daily. So what do I pray? How do I pray?

Luther says in the Large Catechism,
"there is no nobler prayer to be found upon earth than the Lord's Prayer which we daily pray."
This is the prayer I say most when I can't find words or when I'm exhausted and at my wits end. It is the prayer that God loves to hear and, Luther again,
"which we ought not to surrender for all the riches of the world."
Use the prayer our Lord taught us!

In addition to the Lord's Prayer, I wanted to share a wonderful resource that I have begun to use. It's called Starck's Prayer-Book. I highly recommend getting this book (in the original 1921 English translation I'll add). The author, who lived during the 17th & 18th centuries, has the most beautiful and seamless way of weaving Holy Scripture into these prayers giving them a richness that other prayer books I've used have lacked. It provides prayers for each day of the week, morning and evening, along with a short exhortation for that day and a hymn. The book goes on to include:

Prayers for the Festival Seasons
Prayers for Spiritual and Bodily Blessings
Prayers for the Afflicted, the Sick, the Dying and for Special Occasions (Birthdays, War Time, Weather and Travel etc.)

I know prayer books aren't everyone's "thing", and at one point in my life I believed that the prayer that wasn't from your heart (prayers that were written by others) wasn't real prayer.

But I have come to learn how very helpful these written prayers can be, especially during times I just don't know what to pray or how to pray, or worse don't even want to pray.

The link I've provided to find the book is to Emmanuel Press. A printing business that is putting out some great resources. Poke around the site and take a look. Also, note that they have published a book of prayers for mothers; Starck's Motherhood Prayers for All Occasions (which is found as an appendix in Starck's Prayer-Book) as a separate volume.

While there is a prayer of parents for their children in this book, most of these prayers are for those expecting a child or who have recently delivered a child and they're wonderful. Not all of you are in this situation of course, but I have been told by several mothers not in either of these stages of life that the prayers are useful to them as well.

So, do you use aids when you pray? What do you use? A book? A list? A journal?


  1. I, too, pray less often as I used to since the kids started coming. But, in another sense I pray more often throughout the day, because we pray to bless the food, and return thanks, we pray in the morning, and in the evening. And we pray for repentance and forgiveness after blatant rebellion, disobedience, unkindness, etc.

    At one time in my life I journaled my prayers (very useful!), and spend an hour reading the Bible each day. But that was only once a day. Now I find I'm praying all day, really. It may not be in detail, and there may be a lot of what the Baptists call "rote," but the simplicity with which and childlike way our kids pray is very humbling.

    I'd like to get back to journaling, especially about family's, friends', and personal sins and problems. When I start to worry about one of these matters, I try to remember to "cry out" to the Lord, even as I'm doing household tasks, etc. But I remember the peace of recording my troubles, and seeing later how God's Promises and Gifts comforted me and sustained me. I guess I need more contemplation and meditation in my prayers.

    Stark's Prayerbook is great! It's our bathroom reading material :)

  2. There are times I truly do not want to pray. That is when I know I really need to pray. This book sounds really good, Aubri. I may have to get it for myself.

  3. Thanks, Aubri, for the Luther lines on prayer, and for the plug for Starck. I really need to get the Motherhood prayers--I read the one prayer in the Concordia edition for parents praying for their children. It's so great, it's worth memorizing (I think)!

    I've found "Reading the Psalms" so comforting this Lent. I enjoy Luther's short, short commentary, then reading the psalm, then praying Luther's prayer based on the psalm. It's a great combo of the Word and Luther!

    I've done journaling in the past, too, and someday I'd like to do it again. I found it difficult to cut myself off, though--I wanted to write down every single person I could think of (as though if I didn't, God wouldn't 'count' my prayer). My problem, not an inherent problem of journaling. And thanks, Kristi--I am the same. When I don't want to pray, I know I really need to. Peaks and valleys.

  4. "Bathroom reading material." That's great! Talk about sitting and meditating. (Hmmm, is this not appropriate?)

  5. How do we know what's enough? Actually, I suppose there could never be enough prayer. But when do we stop feeling guilty about how much we "don't " pray? Where is that bar that measures prayer? How high do I have to go to reach it? I don't journal. I don't sit and pray every day. I don't read my Bible every day. I don't read my catechism every day. My hubby would like me to. But I don't. I figure I'm off to a good start if I can say Luther's Morning prayer before getting out of bed. I feel like I'm at the bottom of the heap when I hear what others do. So we tell one another do what you can; do what is best for you. And what is that? What is the best? Is there a baseline for praying that leaves us feeling content and full of peace, without guilt? Just wondering...

    I do have favorites, when I take time to use them: the creed, Lord's Prayer, Morning and Evening Prayers, Reading the Psalms with Luther.

  6. Jenny, I have some vague memory of reading a tale about Martin Luther promising Katie a doubloon or something if she said the Lord's Prayer every day for some number of days . . . does that help? :)

    Loehe's Seed-Grains of Prayer is another really wonderful prayer resource. It's comparable to Stark. You can get it from Emmanuel Press.

  7. I apologize, I meant to condemn myself and offer a "prayer aid" in this post but I think it came off more "law heavy" than I intended! Jenny, we're all "at the bottom of the heap". None of us pray "enough", none of us "pray without ceasing" as Scripture tells us to do. But we can be "content and full of peace, without guilt" because Christ has kept the Law for us, including this one. Rest in that!

    As Christians prayer is a privileged, something God delights for us to do and has gifted to us. Not something we have to measure. My flesh knows I don't pray as I ought, I know I don't pray as I would LIKE to and I WANT to do more, but not out of GUILT!

    I think too as Katy said, I do pray "more" throughout the day with my children than I did before them, at meal time and bed time, teaching them the Lord's Prayer etc. We should not take those times for granted. We should also not discount little mutterings to our Father throughout the day as I do from time to time when I think of someone or something to pray for. And lets not forget that we DO pray on Sundays in our church services.

    As Christians our lives will have prayer. But the amount is not a thing to measure.

    We also have a "bathroom reading", The Lord Will Answer, Daily Prayer Catechism. It's great too. So I should count that time in too right?!

  8. The Preface (or Forward, or Intro, I of those sections before the actual book begins) of The Treasury of Daily Prayer was very edifying, because it taught me how praying the Hours shouldn't be a source of guilt for missing a day, but a sense of comfort out of knowing even if you are not praying, or forget, the Church--someone, somewhere, and most likely many, many people everywhere--is praying on your behalf.

    And more importantly Christ is praying in the whole Church's stead. We pray ceaselessly because Christ is praying ceaselessly, and we are in him. I find it very comforting, not so much that he has fulfilled the Law of praying (although that is good!), but that our prayers are united with his perfect, continuous prayer, which the Father accepts. In that way he IS our intercessor.

    Dr.Kleinig's piece on prayer on Issues (1/31/11) was EXCELLENT. You should all listen to it.

  9. The only law I felt delivered came from my own head and heart, not from any of you. I so appreciate the wisdome and experiences you have to share.

    Rebekah, I wonder if my hubby would got for this idea. Only instead of a doubloon, how about a cup o' Joe from Starbucks? :)

    Hubby has also talked with me about the Treasurey of Daily Prayer. I'm feeling the need to look at that book quite serioulsy now. The size of it, quite honestly, has overwhelmed me. But I've learned that the layout of it is quite easy to follow. I can handle that.

  10. I don't know exactly how this fits in here...but I felt like I needed to share...and it does have to do with prayer...

    Throughout the years of being a parent there have been MANY a time where I am awaken out of a deep sleep to a crying child in pain, or having a coughing fit or any many of other reasons...and then after I have soothed the child, given the needed medicines or whatever else needed to be done...I am WIDE awake at 3 in the I lay in bed telling myself that I NEED to fall asleep becasue of the the busy day ahead....and then my head fills with thoughts of my never ending to do list...and I end up laying there awake for an hour or more. 2 nights ago I tried something different because of a comment Jenny left on prayer about praying outloud as she was driving down the road...I knew I couldn't pray out loud or I would wake up Dan, but I did just simply start praying...first the Lord's Prayer and then the Aposltes Creed...and I think before I finished the creed I was sleeping...soundly. The next morning I remembered that I did that and thought it was probably a fluke that it worked..and sure enough last night I was given the opportunity to try it again at 4 in the morning...and it worked again. WOW...what a wonderful way to fill my mind with something that doesn't cause me worry or concern or stress...I was just able to go back to sleep so I could wake up rested and ready to go. What a blessing is MANY ways!!!

  11. Kathy, that is SO true and I should remember that about prayer more often because I am ALWAYS awake around 3 and 4 am and laying there trying to fall back to sleep! What a great way to "use" that time instead of letting my mind be bombarded by other thoughts.

  12. Kathy -- At least you didn't make it all the way to Luther's Morning Prayer. That's another blessing.