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III. Of Prayer
The Lord's Prayer.
We have now heard what we must do and believe, in which things the best and
happiest life consists. Now follows the third part, how we ought to pray. For since
we are so situated that no man can perfectly keep the Ten Commandments,
even though he have begun to believe, and since the devil with all his power
together with the world and our own flesh, resists our endeavors, nothing is so
necessary as that we should continually resort to the ear of God, call upon Him,
and pray to Him, that He would give, preserve, and increase in us faith and the
fulfillment of the Ten Commandments, and that He would remove everything that
is in our way and opposes us therein. But that we might know what and how to
pray, our Lord Christ has Himself taught us both the mode and the words, as we
shall see.
But before we explain the Lord's Prayer part by part, it is most necessary first to
exhort and incite people to prayer, as Christ and the apostles also have done.
And the first matter is to know that it is our duty to pray because of God's
commandment. For thus we heard in the Second Commandment: Thou shalt not
take the name of the lord, thy God, in vain, that we are there required to praise
that holy name, and call upon it in every need, or to pray. For to call upon the
name of God is nothing else than to pray. Prayer is therefore as strictly and
earnestly commanded as all other commandments: to have no other God, not to
kill, not to steal, etc. Let no one think that it is all the same whether he pray or
not, as vulgar people do, who grope in such delusion and ask Why should I pray?
Who knows whether God heeds or will hear my prayer? If I do not pray, some
one else will. And thus they fall into the habit of never praying, and frame a
pretext, as though we taught that there is no duty or need of prayer, because we
reject false and hypocritical prayers.
But this is true indeed that such prayers as have been offered hitherto when men
were babbling and bawling in the churches were no prayers. For such external
matters, when they are properly observed, may be a good exercise for young
children, scholars, and simple persons, and may be called singing or reading, but
not really praying. But praying, as the Second Commandment teaches, is to call
upon God in every need. This He requires of us, and has not left it to our choice.
But it is our duty and obligation to pray if we would be Christians, as much as it is
our duty and obligation to obey our parents and the government; for by calling
upon it and praying the name of God is honored and profitably employed. This
you must note above all things, that thereby you may silence and repel such
thoughts as would keep and deter us from prayer. For just as it would be idle for
a son to say to his father, "Of what advantage is my obedience? I will go and do
what I can; it is all the same"; but there stands the commandment, Thou shalt