Index of Doctrinal Points
Our Father who art in heaven.
What does this mean?
Answer: God would thereby [with this little introduction] tenderly urge
us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him
confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.
The First Petition: Hallowed be Thy name.
What does this mean?
Answer: God's name is indeed holy in itself; but we pray in this petition
that it may become holy among us also.
How is this done?
Answer: When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as
the children of God also lead holy lives in accordance with it. To this end help us, dear Father in
heaven. But he that teaches and lives otherwise than God's Word teaches profanes the name of God
among us. From this preserve us, Heavenly Father.
The First Petition. (Details from the Large Catechism)
Hallowed be Thy name.
This is, indeed, somewhat obscure, and not expressed in good German, for in our mother-tongue we
would say: Heavenly Father, help that by all means Thy name may be holy. But what is it to pray that
His name may be holy? Is it not holy already? Answer: Yes, it is always holy in its nature, but in
our use it is not holy. For God's name was given us when we became Christians and were baptized, so
that we are called children of God and have the Sacraments by which He so incorporates us in Himself
that everything which is God's must serve for our use.
Here now the great need exists for which we ought to be most concerned, that this name have its
proper honor, be esteemed holy and sublime as the greatest treasure and sanctuary that we have; and
that as godly children we pray that the name of God, which is already holy in heaven, may also be and
remain holy with us upon earth and in all the world.
But how does it become holy among us? Answer, as plainly as it can be said: When both our doctrine
and life are godly and Christian. For since in this prayer we call God our Father, it is our duty
always to deport and demean ourselves as godly children, that He may not receive shame, but honor
and praise from us.
Now the name of God is profaned by us either in words or in works. (For whatever we do upon the
earth must be either words or works, speech or act.) In the first place, then, it is profaned when
men preach, teach, and speak in the name of God what is false and misleading, so that His name must
serve to adorn and to find a market for falsehood. That is, indeed, the greatest profanation and
dishonor of the divine name. Furthermore, also when men, by swearing, cursing, conjuring, etc., grossly
abuse the holy name as a cloak for their shame. In the second place also by an openly wicked life
and works, when those who are called Christians and the people of God are adulterers, drunkards, misers,
envious, and slanderers. Here again must the name of God come to shame and be profaned because of us.
For just as it is a shame and disgrace to a natural father to have a bad perverse child that opposes
him in words and deeds, so that on its account he suffers contempt and reproach, so also it brings
dishonor upon God if we who are called by His name and have all manner of goods from Him teach, speak,
and live in any other manner except as godly and heavenly children, so that people say of us that we
must be not God's, but the devil's children.
Thus you see that in this petition we pray just for that which God demands in the Second Commandment;
namely, that His name be not taken in vain to swear, curse, lie, deceive, etc., but be usefully employed
to the praise and honor of God. For whoever employs the name of God for any sort of wrong profanes
and desecrates this holy name, as aforetime a church was considered desecrated when a murder or any
other crime had been committed in it, or when a pyx or relic was desecrated, as being holy in themselves,
yet become unholy in use. Thus this point is easy and clear if only the language is understood, that
to hallow is the same as in our idiom to praise, magnify, and honor both in word and deed.
Here, now, learn how great need there is of such prayer. For because we see how full the world
is of sects and false teachers, who all wear the holy name as a cover and sham for their doctrines
of devils, we ought by all means to pray without ceasing, and to cry and call upon God against all
such as preach and believe falsely and whatever opposes and persecutes our Gospel and pure doctrine,
and would suppress it, as bishops, tyrants, enthusiasts, etc. Likewise also for ourselves who have
the Word of God, but are not thankful for it, nor live as we ought according to the same. If now
you pray for this with your heart, you can be sure that it pleases God; for He will not hear anything
more dear to Him than that His honor and praise is exalted above everything else, and His Word is
taught in its purity and is esteemed precious and dear.
The Second Petition: Thy kingdom come.
What does this mean?
Answer: The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself;
but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also.
How is this done?
Answer: When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His
grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life here in time and yonder in eternity.
The Second Petition. (Details from the Large Catechism)
Hallowed be Thy kingdom come.
As we prayed in the First Petition concerning the honor and name of God that He would prevent the
world from adorning its lies and wickedness with it, but cause it to be esteemed sublime and holy both
in doctrine and life, so that He may be praised and magnified in us, so here we pray that His kingdom
also may come. But just as the name of God is in itself holy, and we pray nevertheless that it be holy
among us, so also His kingdom comes of itself, without our prayer, yet we pray nevertheless that it
may come to us, that is, prevail among us and with us, so that we may be a part of those among whom
His name is hallowed and His kingdom prospers.
But what is the kingdom of God? Answer: Nothing else than what we learned in the Creed, that God
sent His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the
devil, and to bring us to Himself, and to govern us as a King of righteousness, life and salvation
against sin death, and an evil conscience, for which end He has also bestowed His Holy Ghost, who is
to bring these things home to us by His holy Word, and to illumine and strengthen us in the faith by
Therefore we pray here in the first place that this may become effective with us, and that His
name be so praised through the holy Word of God and a Christian life that both we who have accepted
it may abide and daily grow therein, and that it may gain approbation and adherence among other people
and proceed with power throughout the world, that many may find entrance into the Kingdom of Grace,
be made partakers of redemption, being led thereto by the Holy Ghost, in order that thus we may all
together remain forever in the one kingdom now begun.
For the coming of God's Kingdom to us occurs in two ways; first, here in time through the Word and
faith; and secondly, in eternity forever through revelation. Now we pray for both these things, that
it may come to those who are not yet in it, and, by daily increase, to us who have received the same,
and hereafter in eternal life. All this is nothing else than saying: Dear Father, we pray, give us
first Thy Word, that the Gospel be preached properly throughout the world; and secondly, that it be
received in faith, and work and live in us, so that through the Word and the power of the Holy Ghost
Thy kingdom may prevail among us, and the kingdom of the devil be put down, that he may have no right
or power over us, until at last it shall be utterly destroyed, and sin, death, and hell shall be exterminated,
that we may live forever in perfect righteousness and blessedness.
From this you perceive that we pray here not for a crust of bread or a temporal, perishable good,
but for an eternal inestimable treasure and everything that God Himself possesses; which is far too
great for any human heart to think of desiring if He had not Himself commanded us to pray for the same.
But because He is God, He also claims the honor of giving much more and more abundantly than any one
can comprehend, -- like an eternal, unfailing fountain, which, the more it pours forth and overflows,
the more it continues to give, -- and He desires nothing more earnestly of us than that we ask much
and great things of Him, and again is angry if we do not ask and pray confidently.
For just as when the richest and most mighty emperor would bid a poor beggar ask whatever he might
desire, and were ready to give great imperial presents, and the fool would beg only for a dish of gruel,
he would be rightly considered a rogue and a scoundrel who treated the command of his imperial majesty
as a jest and sport, and was not worthy of coming into his presence: so also it is a great reproach
and dishonor to God if we, to whom He offers and pledges so many unspeakable treasures, despise the
same, or have not the confidence to receive them, but scarcely venture to pray for a piece of bread.
All this is the fault of the shameful unbelief which does not look to God for as much good as will
satisfy the stomach, much less expects without doubt such eternal treasures of God. Therefore we must
strengthen ourselves against it, and let this be our first prayer; then, indeed, we shall have all
else in abundance, as Christ teaches [Matt. 6:33]: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
and all these things shall be added unto you. For how could He allow us to suffer want and to be straitened
in temporal things when He promises that which is eternal and imperishable?
The Third Petition: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
What does this mean?
Answer: The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our
prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.
How is this done?
Answer: When God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would
not let us hallow the name of God nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world,
and our flesh; but strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith unto our end. This is
His gracious and good will.
The Third Petition. (Details from the Large Catechism)
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Thus far we have prayed that God's name be honored by us, and that His kingdom prevail among us;
in which two points is comprehended all that pertains to the honor of God and to our salvation, that
we receive as our own God and all His riches. But now a need just as great arises, namely, that we
firmly keep them, and do not suffer ourselves to be torn therefrom. For as in a good government it is
not only necessary that there be those who build and govern well, but also those who make defense, afford
protection and maintain it firmly, so here likewise, although we have prayed for the greatest need, for
the Gospel, faith, and the Holy Ghost, that He may govern us and redeem us from the power of the devil,
we must also pray that His will be done. For there will be happenings quite strange if we are to abide
therein, as we shall have to suffer many thrusts and blows on that account from everything that ventures
to oppose and prevent the fulfilment of the two petitions that precede.
For no one believes how the devil opposes and resists them, and cannot suffer that any one teach or
believe aright. And it hurts him beyond measure to suffer his lies and abominations, that have been honored
under the most specious pretexts of the divine name, to be exposed, and to be disgraced himself, and,
besides, be driven out of the heart, and suffer such a breach to be made in his kingdom. Therefore he
chafes and rages as a fierce enemy with all his power and might, and marshals all his subjects, and,
in addition enlists the world and our own flesh as his allies. For our flesh is in itself indolent and
inclined to evil, even though we have accepted and believe the Word of God. The world, however, is
perverse and wicked; this he incites against us, fans and stirs the fire, that he may hinder and drive
us back, cause us to fall, and again bring us under his power. Such is all his will, mind, and thought,
for which he strives day and night, and never rests a moment, employing all arts, wiles, ways, and means
whichever he can invent.
If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and reckon upon having the devil with
all his angels and the world as our enemies, who will bring every possible misfortune and grief upon
us. For where the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and produces fruit, there the holy
cross cannot be wanting. And let no one think that he shall have peace; but he must risk what whatever
he has upon earth -- possessions, honor. house and estate, wife and children, body and life. Now, this
hurts our flesh and the old Adam; for the test is to be steadfast and to suffer with patience in whatever
way we are assailed, and to let go whatever is taken from us.
Hence there is just as great need, as in all the others, that we pray without ceasing: "Dear Father,
Thy will be done, not the will of the devil and of our enemies, nor of anything that would persecute and
suppress Thy holy Word or hinder Thy kingdom; and grant that we may bear with patience and overcome whatever
is to be endured on that account, lest our poor flesh yield or fall away from weakness or sluggishness."
Behold, thus we have in these three petitions, in the simplest manner, the need which relates to God
Himself, yet all for our sakes. For whatever we pray concerns only us, namely, as we have said, that
what must be done anyway without us, may also be done in us. For as His name must be hallowed and His
kingdom come without our prayer, so also His will must be done and succeed although the devil with all
his adherents raise a great tumult, are angry and rage against it, and undertake to exterminate the Gospel
utterly. But for our own sakes we must pray that even against their fury His will be done without hindrance
also among us, that they may not be able to accomplish anything and we remain firm against all violence
and persecution, and submit to such will of God.
Such prayer, then, is to be our protection and defense now, is to repel and put down all that the
devil, Pope, bishops, tyrants, and heretics can do against our Gospel. Let them all rage and attempt
their utmost, and deliberate and resolve how they may suppress and exterminate us, that their will and
counsel may prevail: over and against this one or two Christians with this petition alone shall be our
wall against which they shall run and dash themselves to pieces. This consolation and confidence we
have, that the will and purpose of the devil and of all our enemies shall and must fail and come to
naught, however proud, secure, and powerful they know themselves to be. For if their will were not
broken and hindered, the kingdom of God could not abide on earth nor His name be hallowed.
The Fourth Petition: Give us this day our daily bread.
What does this mean?
Answer: God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all wicked
men; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread
What is meant by daily bread?
Answer: Everything that belongs to the support and wants of
the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a
pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful magistrates good government, good
weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.
The Fourth Petition. (Details from the Large Catechism)
Give us this day our daily bread.
Here, now, we consider the poor breadbasket, the necessaries of our body and of the temporal life.
It is a brief and simple word, but it has a very wide scope. For when you mention and pray for daily
bread, you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy daily bread and, on the
other hand, against everything which interferes with it. Therefore you must open wide and extend your
thoughts not only to the oven or the flour-bin but to the distant field and the entire land, which bears
and brings to us daily bread and every sort of sustenance. For if God did not cause it to grow, and bless
and preserve it in the field, we could never take bread from the oven or have any to set upon the table.
To comprise it briefly, this petition includes everything that belongs to our entire life in the
world, because on that account alone do we need daily bread. Now for our life it is not only necessary
that our body have food and covering and other necessaries, but also that we spend our days in peace
and quiet among the people with whom we live and have intercourse in daily business and conversation
and all sorts of doings, in short, whatever pertains both to the domestic and to the neighborly or civil
relation and government. For where these two things are hindered [intercepted and disturbed] that they
do not prosper as they ought, the necessaries of life also are impeded, so that ultimately life cannot
be maintained. And there is, indeed, the greatest need to pray for temporal authority and government,
as that by which most of all God preserves to us our daily bread and all the comforts of this life.
For though we have received of God all good things in abundance we are not able to retain any of them
or use them in security and happiness, if He did not give us a permanent and peaceful government. For
where there are dissension, strife, and war, there the daily bread is already taken away, or at least
Therefore it would be very proper to place in the coat-of-arms of every pious prince a loaf of bread
instead of a lion, or a wreath of rue, or to stamp it upon the coin, to remind both them and their
subjects that by their office we have protection and peace, and that without them we could not eat
and retain our daily bread. Therefore they are also worthy of all honor, that we give to them for
their office what we ought and can, as to those through whom we enjoy in peace and quietness what we
have, because otherwise we would not keep a farthing; and that, in addition, we also pray for them
that through them God may bestow on us the more blessing and good.
Let this be a very brief explanation and sketch, showing how far this petition extends through all
conditions on earth. Of this any one might indeed make a long prayer, and with many words enumerate
all the things that are included therein, as that we pray God to give us food and drink, clothing,
house, and home, and health of body; also that He cause the grain and fruits of the field to grow and
mature well; furthermore, that He help us at home towards good housekeeping, that He give and preserve
to us a godly wife, children, and servants, that He cause our work, trade, or whatever we are engaged
in to prosper and succeed, favor us with faithful neighbors and good friends, etc. Likewise, that He
give to emperors, kings, and all estates, and especially to the rulers of our country and to all counselors,
magistrates, and officers, wisdom, strength, and success that they may govern well and vanquish the
Turks and all enemies; to subjects and the common people, obedience, peace, and harmony in their life
with one another, and on the other hand, that He would preserve us from all sorts of calamity to body
and livelihood, as lightning, hail, fire, flood, poison, pestilence, cattle-plague, war and bloodshed,
famine, destructive beasts, wicked men, etc. All this it is well to impress upon the simple, namely,
that these things come from God, and must be prayed for by us.
But this petition is especially directed also against our chief enemy, the devil. For all his
thought and desire is to deprive us of all that we have from God, or to hinder it; and he is not
satisfied to obstruct and destroy spiritual government in leading souls astray by his lies and bringing
them under his power, but he also prevents and hinders the stability of all government and honorable,
peaceable relations on earth. There he causes so much contention, murder, sedition, and war also lightning
and hail to destroy grain and cattle, to poison the air, etc. In short, he is sorry that any one has a
morsel of bread from God and eats it in peace; and if it were in his power, and our prayer (next to
God) did not prevent him, we would not keep a straw in the field, a farthing in the house, yea, not
even our life for an hour, especially those who have the Word of God and would like to be Christians.
Behold, thus God wishes to indicate to us how He cares for us in all our need, and faithfully provides
also for our temporal support. and although He abundantly grants and preserves these things even to
the wicked and knaves, yet He wishes that we pray for them, in order that we may recognize that we
receive them from His hand, and may feel His paternal goodness toward us therein. For when He withdraws
His hand, nothing can prosper nor be maintained in the end, as, indeed, we daily see and experience.
How much trouble there is now in the world only on account of bad coin, yea, on account of daily oppression
and raising of prices in common trade, bargaining and labor on the part of those who wantonly oppress
the poor and deprive them of their daily bread! This we must suffer indeed; but let them take care
that they do not lose the common intercession, and beware lest this petition in the Lord's Prayer
be against them.
The Fifth Petition: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
What does this mean?
Answer: We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look
upon our sins, nor deny such petitions on account of them; for we are worthy of none of the things
for which we pray, neither have we deserved them; but that He would grant them all to us by grace;
for we daily sin much, and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. So will we verily, on our part,
also heartily forgive and also readily do good to those who sin against us.
The Fifth Petition. (Details from the Large Catechism)
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
This part now relates to our poor miserable life, which, although we have and believe the Word
of God, and do and submit to His will, and are supported by His gifts and blessings is nevertheless
not without sin. For we still stumble daily and transgress because we live in the world among men who
do us much harm and give us cause for impatience, anger, revenge, etc. Besides, we have Satan at our
back, who sets upon us on every side, and fights (as we have heard) against all the foregoing petitions,
so that it is not possible always to stand firm in such a persistent conflict.
Therefore there is here again great need to call upon God and to pray: Dear Father, forgive us
our trespasses. Not as though He did not forgive sin without and even before our prayer (for He has
given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought about it). But
this is to the intent that we may recognize and accept such forgiveness. For since the flesh in which
we daily live is of such a nature that it neither trusts nor believes God, and is ever active in evil
lusts and devices, so that we sin daily in word and deed, by commission and omission by which the
conscience is thrown into unrest, so that it is afraid of the wrath and displeasure of God, and thus
loses the comfort and confidence derived from the Gospel; therefore it is ceaselessly necessary that
we run hither and obtain consolation to comfort the conscience again.
But this should serve God's purpose of breaking our pride and keeping us humble. For in case any
one should boast of his godliness and despise others, God has reserved this prerogative to Himself,
that the person is to consider himself and place this prayer before his eyes, and he will find that
he is no better than others, and that in the presence of God all must lower their plumes, and be
glad that they can attain forgiveness. And let no one think that as long as we live here he can reach
such a position that he will not need such forgiveness. In short, if God does not forgive without
ceasing, we are lost.
It is therefore the intent of this petition that God would not regard our sins and hold up to us
what we daily deserve, but would deal graciously with us, and forgive, as He has promised, and thus
grant us a joyful and confident conscience to stand before Him in prayer. For where the heart is not
in right relation towards God, nor can take such confidence, it will nevermore venture to pray. But
such a confident and joyful heart can spring from nothing else than the [certain] knowledge of the
forgiveness of sin.
But there is here attached a necessary, yet consolatory addition: As we forgive. He has promised
that we shall be sure that everything is forgiven and pardoned, yet in the manner that we also forgive
our neighbor. For just as we daily sin much against God and yet He forgives everything through grace,
so we, too, must ever forgive our neighbor who does us injury, violence, and wrong, shows malice
toward us, etc. If, therefore you do not forgive, then do not think that God forgives you; but if
you forgive, you have this consolation and assurance, that you are forgiven in heaven, not on account
of your forgiving, -- for God forgives freely and without condition, out of pure grace, because He
has so promised, as the Gospel teaches, -- but in order that He may set this up for our confirmation
and assurance for a sign alongside of the promise which accords with this prayer, Luke 6:37: Forgive,
and ye shall be forgiven. Therefore Christ also repeats it soon after the Lord's Prayer, and says,
Matt. 6:14: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, etc.
This sign is therefore attached to this petition, that, when we pray, we remember the promise and
reflect thus: Dear Father, for this reason I come and pray Thee to forgive me, not that I can make
satisfaction, or can merit anything by my works, but because Thou hast promised and attached the
seal thereto that I should be as sure as though I had absolution pronounced by Thyself. For as much
as Baptism and the Lord's Supper appointed as external signs, effect, so much also this sign can
effect to confirm our consciences and cause them to rejoice. And it is especially given for this
purpose, that we might use and practise it every hour, as a thing that we have with us at all times.
The Sixth Petition: And lead us not into temptation.
What does this mean?
Answer: God, indeed, tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that
God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us, nor
seduce us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and though we be assailed by them,
that still we may finally overcome and gain the victory.
The Sixth Petition. (Details from the Large Catechism)
And lead us not into temptation.
We have now heard enough what toil and labor is required to retain all that for which we pray,
and to persevere therein, which, however, is not achieved without infirmities and stumbling. Besides,
although we have received forgiveness and a good conscience and are entirely acquitted, yet is our
life of such a nature that one stands to-day and to-morrow falls. Therefore, even though we be godly
now and stand before God with a good conscience, we must pray again that He would not suffer us to
relapse and yield to trials and temptations.
Temptation, however, or (as our Saxons in olden times used to call it) Bekoerunge, is of three
kinds, namely, of the flesh, of the world and of the devil. For in the flesh we dwell and carry
the old Adam about our neck, who exerts himself and incites us daily to inchastity, laziness, gluttony
and drunkenness, avarice and deception, to defraud our neighbor and to overcharge him, and, in short,
to all manner of evil lusts which cleave to us by nature, and to which we are incited by the society,
example and what we hear and see of other people, which often wound and inflame even an innocent heart.
Next comes the world, which offends us in word and deed, and impels us to anger and impatience.
In short, there is nothing but hatred and envy, enmity, violence and wrong, unfaithfulness, vengeance,
cursing, raillery slander, pride and haughtiness, with superfluous finery, honor, fame, and power,
where no one is willing to be the least, but every one desires to sit at the head and to be seen
Then comes the devil, inciting and provoking in all directions, but especially agitating matters
that concern the conscience and spiritual affairs, namely, to induce us to despise and disregard
both the Word and works of God to tear us away from faith, hope, and love and bring us into misbelief,
false security, and obduracy, or, on the other hand, to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable
other shocking things. These are indeed snares and nets, yea, real fiery darts which are shot most
venomously into the heart, not by flesh and blood, but by the devil.
Great and grievous, indeed, are these dangers and temptations which every Christian must bear,
even though each one were alone by himself, so that every hour that we are in this vile life where
we are attacked on all sides, chased and hunted down, we are moved to cry out and to pray that God
would not suffer us to become weary and faint and to relapse into sin, shame, and unbelief. For
otherwise it is impossible to overcome even the least temptation.
This, then, is leading us not into temptation, to wit, when He gives us power and strength to
resist, the temptation, however, not being taken away or removed. For while we live in the flesh
and have the devil about us, no one can escape temptation and allurements; and it cannot be otherwise
than that we must endure trials, yea, be engulfed in them; but we pray for this, that we may not fall
and be drowned in them.
To feel temptation is therefore a far different thing from consenting or yielding to it. We must
all feel it, although not all in the same manner, but some in a greater degree and more severely
than others; as, the young suffer especially from the flesh, afterwards, they that attain to middle
life and old age, from the world, but others who are occupied with spiritual matters, that is, strong
Christians, from the devil. But such feeling, as long as it is against our will and we would rather
be rid of it, can harm no one. For if we did not feel it, it could not be called a temptation. But
to consent thereto is when we give it the reins and do not resist or pray against it.
Therefore we Christians must be armed and daily expect to be incessantly attacked, in order that
no one may go on in security and heedlessly, as though the devil were far from us, but at all times
expect and parry his blows. For though I am now chaste, patient, kind, and in firm faith, the devil
will this very hour send such an arrow into my heart that I can scarcely stand. For he is an enemy
that never desists nor becomes tired, so that when one temptation ceases, there always arise others
and fresh ones.
Accordingly, there is no help or comfort except to run hither and to take hold of the Lord's Prayer,
and thus speak to God from the heart: Dear Father, Thou hast bidden me pray; let me not relapse because
of temptations. Then you will see that they must desist, and finally acknowledge themselves conquered.
Else if you venture to help yourself by your own thoughts and counsel, you will only make the matter
worse and give the devil more space. For he has a serpent's head, which if it gain an opening into
which he can slip, the whole body will follow without check. But prayer can prevent him and drive
The Seventh Petition: But deliver us from evil.
What does this mean?
Answer: We pray in this petition, as in a summary, that our Father in
heaven would deliver us from all manner of evil, of body and soul, property and honor, and at last,
when our last hour shall come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears
to Himself into heaven.
What does this mean?
Answer: That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable
to our Father in heaven and heard; for He Himself has commanded us so to pray, and has promised that
He will hear us. Amen, Amen; that is, Yea, yea, it shall be so.
The Seventh and Last Petition. (Details from the Large Catechism)
But deliver us from evil. Amen.
In the Greek text this petition reads thus: Deliver or preserve us from the Evil One, or the
Malicious One; and it looks as if He were speaking of the devil, as though He would comprehend everything
in one so that the entire substance of all our prayer is directed against our chief enemy. For it is
he who hinders among us everything that we pray for: the name or honor of God, God's kingdom and will,
our daily bread, a cheerful good conscience, etc.
Therefore we finally sum it all up and say: Dear Father pray, help that we be rid of all these
calamities. But there is nevertheless also included whatever evil may happen to us under the devil's
kingdom -- poverty, shame, death, and, in short, all the agonizing misery and heartache of which there
is such an unnumbered multitude on the earth. For since the devil is not only a liar, but also a
murderer, he constantly seeks our life, and wreaks his anger whenever he can afflict our bodies with
misfortune and harm. Hence it comes that he often breaks men's necks or drives them to insanity, drowns
some, and incites many to commit suicide, and to many other terrible calamities. Therefore there is
nothing for us to do upon earth but to pray against this arch enemy without ceasing. For unless God
preserved us, we would not be safe from him even for an hour.
Hence you see again how God wishes us to pray to Him also for all the things which affect our bodily
interests, so that we seek and expect help nowhere else except in Him. But this matter He has put last;
for if we are to be preserved and delivered from all evil, the name of God must first be hallowed in
us, His kingdom must be with us, and His will be done. After that He will finally preserve us from
sin and shame, and, besides, from everything that may hurt or injure us.
Thus God has briefly placed before us all the distress which may ever come upon us, so that we
might have no excuse whatever for not praying. But all depends upon this, that we learn also to say
Amen, that is, that we do not doubt that our prayer is surely heard and [what we pray] shall be done.
For this is nothing else than the word of undoubting faith, which does not pray at a venture, but knows
that God does not lie to him, since He has promised to grant it. Therefore, where there is no such
faith, there cannot be true prayer either.
It is, therefore, a pernicious delusion of those who pray in such a manner that they dare not
from the heart say yea and positively conclude that God hears them, but remain in doubt and say, How
should I be so bold as to boast that God hears my prayer? For I am but a poor sinner, etc.
The reason for this is, they regard not the promise of God, but their own work and worthiness,
whereby they despise God and reproach Him with lying, and therefore they receive nothing. As St.
James says [1:6]: But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave
of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything
of the Lord. Behold, such importance God attaches to the fact that we are sure we do not pray in vain,
and that we do not in any way despise our prayer.