Luther’s Small Catechism – The Lord’s Prayer

Home > Newspaper Articles > Luther’s Small Catechism – The Lord’s Prayer

When you speak to the Triune God, what should you say? Is there a magic formula that you should use in order to guarantee that He will listen to you? Are some words better than others? Is it better to pray from the heart or to use memorized or written words such as the Lord’s Prayer?

In a way, this is what the disciples asked Jesus in Luke 11. They wanted to learn how to pray. This doesn’t mean they didn’t know how to pray before, but they wanted to know a God-pleasing prayer. Jesus, our Lord, gave them the Lord’s Prayer. It is a masterful prayer if one takes the time to study it (which we will in future articles). Each petition is brief but covers so many essential needs for us in this sin-filled world with all sorts of dangers and temptations around us.

The Lord’s Prayer is not a magical incantation that pleases the Father just by repeating the words. Trust in Jesus Christ His Son as your Savior is required because it is only through the Son’s sacrifice on the cross to pay for your sins that the Father calls you His child and promises to listen to you.

But even a Christian can displease the Father by saying this prayer without thought. It is not the words themselves that make this prayer God-pleasing. It is that the Christian praying them means the words he says. When we recognize that we are guilty of mindlessly repeating this prayer, the petition, “forgive us our trespasses” becomes all the more meaningful and fervent.

Jesus did not say that this was the only prayer His followers could pray. He certainly used other prayers throughout His earthly life. Many of His prayers were ex corde (from the heart). But when His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He said, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father…’” (Luke 11: 2). The Lord’s Prayer is more than a model prayer. It is God’s Word, given to us to speak back to Him. When we pray it ex corde, we know that it is a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord (Psalm 141:2).