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How Should I Pray?

Turkish Title: Nasıl Dua Edeyim

Original Title: Eine Einfaltige Weise zu Beten, für Einen Guten Freund

Author: Martin Luther

Image In 1535, Luther wrote and published “A Simple Way To Pray” dedicated to his barber, Peter Beskendorf. His barber had asked him for some guidelines on how he might improve his prayer life. In response, Luther wrote this 35-page book which became so popular that 4 editions were printed that first year alone.


  The German Reformer, Martin Luther, taught that prayer should be living, powerful, strong, mighty, earnest, serious, troubled, passionate, vehement, fervent and ardent.

Luther described prayer as: “The hardest work of all – a labour above all labours, since he who prays must wage almighty warfare against the doubt and murmuring excited by the faint-heartedness and unworthiness we feel within us…that unutterable and powerful groaning with which the godly rouse themselves against despair, the struggle in which they call mightily upon their faith.”

“Audacious prayer, which perseveres unflinchingly and ceases not through fear, is well pleasing unto God,” wrote Luther. “As a shoe maker makes a shoe, or a tailor makes a coat, so ought a Christian to pray. Prayer is the daily business of a Christian.”

Luther recommended that our prayers be numerous but short in duration. Luther taught that we should pray: “Brief prayers…pregnant with the Spirit, strongly fortified by faith…the fewer the words, the better the prayer. The more the words, the worse the prayer. Few words and much meaning is Christian. Many words and little meaning is pagan.”

The Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms were tools which Luther considered most important for any Christian’s prayer life. “A Christian has prayed abundantly who has rightly prayed the Lord’s Prayer.” The Lord’s Prayer is the model prayer of Christianity and it is not essentially a prayer of one individual, but a common prayer that binds all Christians together, uniting us with all believers, past, present and future, whether in Heaven, or on earth, in a Biblical Kingdom focused prayer.

Luther taught that praying the Psalms brings us: “into joyful harmony” with God’s Word and God’s Will. “Whoever begins to pray the Psalms earnestly and regularly will soon take leave of those other light and personal little devotional prayers and say, ‘Ah, there is not the juice, the strength, the passion, the fire which you find in the Psalms. Anything else tastes too cold and too hard.’” 

Luther also recommended that we structure our prayers according to The Apostle’s Creed and the Catechism, to connect doctrine and devotion. He also recommended praying according to The Ten Commandments, meditating on each item as instruction, thanksgiving, confession and petition. By meditating on the instruction, giving thanks for the blessings that flow from these principles, confessing where we have personally failed in obeying and applying these commands, and as petition to being able to honour and obey God’s Word in our daily lives, would revive our prayer lives. 

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