The small catechism
What is the Small Catechism?
The Small Catechism written by Martin Luther in 1529, is a collection of questions and answers on six topics: the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father (the Lord’s Prayer), the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar. Luther wanted the Catechism to be used by the head of the household to teach the family the Christian faith and life.
Also included with the Small Catechism are daily prayers, a table of dues for Christians in their various callings in life, and a guide for Christians to use as they prepare to receive Holy Communion. Most editions of Luther’s Small Catechism also come with an explanation of the Catechism, which is a longer collection of questions and answers with extensive quotations from the Bible. These explanations have a long history and were added during Luther’s life me.
Why did Luther write the Small Catechism?
Luther answers that question in the preface to the Small Catechism:
“The deplorable, miserable conditions which I recently observed when visiting the parishes have constrained and pressed me to put this Catechism of Christian doctrine into this brief, plain, and simple form. How pitiable, so help me God, were the things I saw: the common man, especially in the villages, knows practically nothing of the Christian doctrine, and many of the pastors are almost entirely incompetent and unable to teach. Yet all the people are supposed to be Christians, have been baptized, and receive the Holy Sacrament even though they do not know the Our Father, the Creed, or the Ten Commandments and live like poor animals of the barnyard and pigpen. What these people have mastered, however, is the fine art of tearing all Christian liberty to shreds.”
You can tell how strongly Luther felt about the need for a clear explanation of the Christian faith and life!
Luther also wrote what is known as the Large Catechism. The Large Catechism is yet another excellent resource that most adults find very helpful after studying the Small Catechism. Your Pastor can help you obtain a copy of the Large Catechism.
What is the benefit of the Small Catechism?
The Small Catechism is an excellent summary of what the Bible, God’s Word, teaches us. The shape of the Catechism is the shape of the Christian life: Repentance (Ten Commandments), Faith (Creed), Prayer (Our Father), Forgiveness of Sins (Baptism, Absolution, Lord’s Supper), then daily prayer and our daily work. It is very important for us to learn by heart the truths of God’s Word as summarized and beautifully explained in the Small Catechism.
God uses the precious truths of His Word to keep us strong and growing in our faith in Jesus Christ. The Catechism helps us understand God’s Law, which shows us our sin, and how we are to live as His People. The Catechism beautifully articulates the Gospel, the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for our salvation.
Luther realized that the truths of God’s Word, as summarized by the Small Catechism, were matters of eternal life and death. They are the most important truths we can ever know. It is genuinely unfortunate when people think they no longer need the Small Catechism and say to themselves, “That’s enough of that; now I can move on to more important things.”
How can the Small Catechism be used in the life of the individual Christian?
Luther offers us good advice when he writes in the Large Catechism, “Every morning and evening, and whenever I have me, I read and say word-for-word the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Psalms, etc. I must still read and study the Catechism daily, yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism, and I gladly do it.” The Small Catechism is intended to be a prayer book for individuals and families. As we meditate on the various portions of the Catechism, we look for instruction from God, then look for what we can thank God for, then for what we need to confess to God and finally, we finish our prayerful media on by asking God for His blessing and mercy so we may live according to His Word. It is in this way that daily use of the Catechism is a powerful tool for the Christian life.
How can the Small Catechism be used in the home?
The Small Catechism was designed to be the family’s Christian handbook. In fact, some have referred to the Small Catechism as the “layman’s Bible” because it provides such an excellent, brief, clear summary of God’s Word on the essentials of the Christian faith.
Families can use the Catechism in their daily devotions. Luther provided suggested prayers for the family to say at the beginning and end of meals, and for each member of the family to pray when they go to sleep and when they wake up.
Families that use the Catechism find it helpful to pray the Lord’s Prayer together and then to say the Apostles’ Creed together. Then they continue to work on the explanation of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, Confession and Holy Communion. Gradually, over the months and years, the entire family will be able to recite the Catechism from memory and discuss together its meaning.
How can the Catechism be used in congregations?
The Catechism is a key resource in confirmation instruction for both children and adults. The Catechism can be used in so many other ways as well. It is an important resource for Bible classes and other groups that meet at the church. Wouldn’t it be good for every group that meets regularly in a Lutheran congregation to begin their meeting by reviewing a part of the Catechism and then concluding that review with prayer?
Many congregations make it a practice to print out a portion of the Catechism and recite it during the Sunday worship service. Other congregations devote the seasons of Advent and Lent to a careful review of the Catechism’s six chief parts during their mid-week service. Still other congregations will spend me during the non-festival half of the church year devoting special an en on to reviewing the Catechism. There are pastors who use the Catechism as the subject of children’s talks during the worship service. That is certainly a ne practice.
Other congregations have been richly blessed by using the Catechism and its explanation in adult Bible classes, or other study groups. Study groups have found much to discuss and learn by working their way carefully through the Catechism.
Many people have discovered that the Catechism is also a very helpful resource for witnessing to others about Jesus Christ and all that He means for us. Being able to repeat the explanation to the Creed is a good way to tell others what Jesus is all about and how one receives salvation in Christ.
What is the benefit of learning the Catechism by heart?
There is a great deal of benefit! The Catechism is learned by regular and repeated reading, discussion and prayer. The head of the house should lead the rest of the family in speaking the various parts of the Catechism and so, slowly but surely, learning the Catechism by heart. One week, for instance, the family can work on the First Commandment and it’s meaning, or the First Article of the Creed and its meaning, and so forth.
Learning the Catechism by heart is vital for teaching the Catechism. Perhaps every word will not make sense at first. That is not a problem. Just keep working on learning them. Understanding will come in me, but learning the words must begin right away. We are making a serious mistake if we wait to have children memorize the Catechism until l they can understand every word. We need to learn to speak the language of our faith before we can understand it. Families might be surprised at how quickly children can memorize the words of the Catechism and then learn to understand them.
Martin Luther was very concerned that this be done. He wrote in his Preface to the Small Catechism, “So adopt whatever form you wish, and then stick with it at all times. ... keep to a single, fixed and permanent form and wording, and teach them first of all the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, etc., according to the text, word for word, so the they can repeat it after you and commit it to memory.”
Where can we obtain copies of the Small Catechism?
You may purchase copies of the Small Catechism from Concordia Publishing House by calling their too-free number, 800-325-3040.
the TEN COMMANDMENTS
Here is the tenfold sure command, God gave to men of every land, through faithful Moses standing high, on holy Mount Sinai. Have mercy, Lord!
This article will help you study the Commandments and use them in your daily life.
We recognize sin in our lives as we examine ourselves according to the Ten Commandments. Sin takes a gift God has given and uses it in a way God does not want it used. Each commandment also teaches us how God’s gifts are used to His honor and glory.
I-You shall have no other gods.
I, I alone, am God, your Lord; all idols are to be abhorred. Trust me, step boldly to my throne, sincerely love me alone. Have mercy, Lord!
Where the heart is right with God, all the other commandments follow. When a commandment is broken, this is symptomatic of the fact that the human heart, by nature, is turned away from God. God made us to be His own. He has given Himself to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever claims our greatest loyalty, fondest hopes or deepest affection on is our god and takes the place God alone wants to have in our lives. Through the Word and Sacraments, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts true fear, love, and trust in God above all things. (Is. 42:8; Ma . 410; Prov. 11:28; John 14:15; Phil. 2:13).
II– You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
Do not my holy name disgrace, do not my Word of truth debase. Praise only that as good and true which I myself say and do. Have mercy, Lord!
The Lord gave us a great treasure when we were baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The name of our Lord is above any other name, in heaven or on earth. With God’s name, comes His power to save. Using the name of the Holy Trinity as a curse word, or swearing by it for dishonest or frivolous purposes, or using it to mislead people about His Word, is sin.
How good to know that we can call on the name of the Lord at any me, and in any situation in life, for any need. Because the Lord opens our lips, we declare His praise as we pray and give thanks in His holy name. (Ex.20:7; Lev.24:15; James 3:9-10; Lev.19:12; Jer. 23:31;Ps 50:5; Ps. 103:1; Eph. 5:20; Phil.2:10-11)
III– Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Celebrate the worship day, that peace may fill your home and pray, and put aside the work you do, so that God may work in you. Have mercy, Lord.
God has blessed us with the gi of His Word. We honor God when we gladly hear the Word of God preached and we hold it sacred. We also honor God’s Word when we use it in our daily prayer. We are tempted at mes to think: “I can be a Christian without a ending church.” That is as true as saying, “I do not have to eat today to live.” But how long can we live without eating? We are able to go to church, because God is at work in us with His gifts so that we hold His Word sacred and gladly hear and learn it. (Acts 2:42,46; Heb. 10:25; Ma .12:8; Col.2:16-17; Heb. 4:9-10; John 8:47; Luke 10:16; Is. 66:2; Ps. 26:8; Acts 2:42; Col.3:16)
IV—Honor your father and your mother.
You are to honor and obey your parents, and masters every day, serve them each way that comes to hand; you’ll then live long in the land. Have mercy, Lord!
God has given us parents, pastors and other authorities for our good. They serve as His representatives. Through them, God richly blesses us, and our world, with orderly authority, as opposed to the chaos that sin brings. By honoring parents and others in authority, we honor God. (Prov.22:23;Rom. 13:2; Eph. 6:2-3; 1 Tim.5:4; Rom. 13:7; Titus 3:1; Prov. 23:22)
V– You shall not murder.
Curb anger, do not harm or kill, hate not, repay not ill with ill. Be patient and of gentle mind, convince your foe that you are kind. Have mercy, Lord!
Human life is the crowning gift of God’s creation. We are not to end human life through murder, abor on, euthanasia or suicide. Prejudice, bigotry and abuse of those less fortunate are forbidden. We recognize that we can “murder” a person with our thoughts, certainly with our words, and then most dramatically with our actions. As God’s representative, the government has the authority to execute criminals and to wage just wars in order to punish evildoers, protect us, and maintain order. As we continue to receive mercy and kindness in Christ, so we support our neighbors when they need help. (Gen. 9:6; Ma . 26:52; Jer.1:5; Prov. 31:8; Ma .5:22; 1 John 3:15; Eph. 4:26; Rom. 13:4)
VI—You shall not commit adultery.
Be faithful, keep the marriage vow; the straying thought do not allow. Keep all your conduct free from sin. Be self-controlled and disciplined. Have mercy, Lord!
God has given marriage, our sexuality, and our family as great blessings. This commandment confronts us when our thoughts, words and actions fall short of the sexual purity God demands of both the married and unmarried. God wants all people, both married and single, to honor and uphold marriage as His gift. In Christ, we are set free to live sexually pure and decent lives, and to honor and cherish the husband or wife God gives us. (Gen.2:24-25; Mark 10:6-9; Heb.13:4; Titus 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 6:18; Eph.5:3-4; 1 Cor.6:19- 20)
VII—You shall not steal.
You shall not steal or cheat away what others worked for night and day; but open up a generous hand to feed the poor in the land. Have mercy, Lord!
Everything we have is a gi from God, a trust from Him to be used for His honor and glory. This is turned around when we do whatever it takes to get what we want. Chris ans are led by the Spirit of God not to steal or cheat but instead to do what is neces- sary to help others keep and improve what is theirs. (Eph. 4:28; Phil. 2:4; Heb. 13:16; 1 John 3:17)
VIII– You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
A lying witness never be, nor foul your tongue with calumny. The cause of innocence embrace, the fallen shield from disgrace. Have mercy, Lord!
Our good reputation is another gift from God. God gives some the duty to judge behavior and to punish evildoers, but if that is not our calling in life, we have no right to tarnish other people’s reputations. We have the duty to speak in such a way about individuals or situations that we are putting the best construction on them and speaking about them in the kindest possibly way, even as God treats us kindly, with mercy and compassion, through Christ our Lord.
IX and X—You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
The portion in your neighbor’s lot, his goods, home, wife, desire not. Pray God he would your neighbors bless, as yourself wish success. Have mercy, Lord!
Being content with the material gifts God has given us is the theme of these last two commandments. The Lord will provide for all our needs. We are free to help our neighbor and wish him well, rejoicing with him in his good fortune, or helping him in need. As Christ has served us, so we serve others. With these two commandments, we nd ourselves back again at the first, for the heart that fears, loves and trusts in God is content with the gifts God gives. (Rom. 7:8; 1 Tim. 6:8-10; Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:6; Heb.13:5)
How does God use the Ten Commandments in our lives?
You have this law to see therein, that you have not been free from sin, but also that you clearly see, how pure toward God life should be. Have mercy, Lord!
Lord Jesus, help us in our need; Christ, you are our go-between indeed. Our works, how sinful, marred, unjust! Christ, you are our one hope and trust. Have mercy, Lord!
The ten commandments cause us to ask ourselves the following ques ons: Do I fear, love and trust in anything or anyone above the Triune God? Have I honored the Lord’s name on my lips and in my life? Have I gladly held His Word sacred, listened attentively to the preaching of that Word, and made use of it in my daily life? Have I honored and obeyed all the authori es placed over me? Have I maintained the purity of my marriage and my sexual life in my thoughts, words and deeds? Have I stolen property or not helped my neighbor protect his? Have I gossiped, either by listening to it, or spreading it myself? Have I been content with all that the Lord has given to me?
The Law is a blinding reflection of our sin. The Law of God is what the Holy Spirit uses to make us realize how much we need the forgiveness Christ won for the world and now distributes through His word and Sacraments. The Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel, to turn to Christ Jesus, who is our only hope, for He has fulfilled the Law perfectly for us and died so that our sin would be forgiven. Through His resurrec on from death, He conquered death. In Christ, we have been adopted as the Lord’s own dear children.
Therefore, God uses His Law in three ways: First, like a curb, by which outbursts of sin are controlled. Second, and most importantly, like a mirror, to show us our sin and our need for a Savior. And then, like a guide, to teach us what is pleasing to Him. Living in the forgiveness won by Christ, through out our lives we pray, “Have mercy, Lord!
The Apostle Creed
What does it mean to confess the Christian faith?
There is nothing more sure or certain in this life than the word and promise of God. With the words of the Apostles’ Creed, Christians through the ages have responded to God’s Word to them. With the Psalmist we pray, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall confess your praise” (Ps.51:15) The word “creed” comes from the La n word, “credo”, which means, “I believe”. To “confess” means to make a declaration of what one believes. When we confess the faith of the Christian church in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, we are confessing our belief in who the Holy Trinity is, and what God has done for us. Each sec on, or article, of the Apostles’ Creed speaks about the work of one of the per- sons of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each article of the Apostles’ Creed is our opportunity to speak back to God, and to each other, the mighty deeds of the Holy Trinity by which He has created us, by which He has redeemed us, and by which He keeps us in the one true faith until life eternal. This is a very important dimension of our faith and worship of God.
What do we confess about God the Father?
“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”
We all believe in one true God, maker of the earth and heaven. “Our Father,” he would have us say; children’s place to us has given. He has pledged always to feed us; body, soul, to keep, to nourish. Through all evil he will lead us, guards us well that we may flourish. He cares for us by day and night and governs all things by his might. 1
That there is a god is a truth known to all human beings simply from the very existence of all things. This is called natural knowledge of God. There is nothing very remarkable about believing that there is a god. Only a fool says, “there is no god”(Ps.53:1). The real issue is not that people believe in no god, but that they are tempted to believe in a god who is not the one, true God. Or, that they are tempted to put in the place of the true God, “gods” of our culture, like money, success, popularity or pleasure.
The first article of the Apostles’ Creed declares that Christians believe, teach and confess that the one, true God is none other than the One who has made the heavens and the earth, and everything in them. But more than that, He is our Father who provides and cares for us as a father cares for his beloved children.
We believe that He has made us and has given us all the good things we have in this life. This He has done purely out of the love He has for us as our Father. He not only gives us life, He also defends us, guards us, and protects us during this life, so that we will join Him in heaven for all eternity. There is nothing in us that makes us worthy of the good things God gives us. It is all from His love as a father. How glorious it is to know that the same God who created heaven and earth also created each one of us and cares for us personally.
What do we confess about God the Son?
“I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.”
We all believe in Christ, His Son, whom as Lord we are addressing, of equal Godhead, throne, and might, source of every grace and blessing. Born of Mary, virgin mother, by the power of the Spirit, made true man, our human brother through whom sonship we inherit; He, crucified for sinful men, through God’s power rose to life again.
We are able to believe that God is our Father, because of what His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, came into this world to do: to live perfectly in our place, to suffer and die to pay for the sin of the world, and then to rise victorious over humanity’s most ancient and most evil enemies: sin, death and the devil.
Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God from all eternity was born of the Virgin Mary, to over up to the Father His precious body and blood for the forgiveness of the sins of the world. Through this sacrifice, the Son of God won for us reconciliation and peace with God, a peace that had been shattered by sin, both the original sin common to all human beings and the sin that is unique to each of us.
At the Father’s command, Christ came into this world to do all this for us so that we would be His very own by faith, serving Him and living for Him. Our hope is in the One who rose from the grave and now lives as our Savior for all eternity.
How blessed we are to have been brought to the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that in Him we have the full and free forgiveness of all our sins and the promise of eternal life forever with Him in heaven.
What do we confess about the Holy Spirit?
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Chris an church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”
We all confess the Holy Ghost, who grants comfort, grace, and power. He, with the Father and the Son, robes us for the triumph hour, keeps the Church, his own creation, in true unity of the spirit; here forgiveness and salvation comes to us through Jesus’ merit. The body risen, we then shall be in life with God eternally. Amen.
The Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, three persons, equal in majesty and together being of one essence, truly does love us as His own dear children. The Holy Spirit calls us into fellowship with the Trinity, by the powerful means of grace that God has given: the Word and Sacraments. With the Word and Sacraments, He keeps the en re church on earth in the one, true and saving faith.
As Luther explains in his Large Catechism, the Holy Spirit works in our life through the church because the church “is the mother that begets and bears every Chris an through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit reveals and preaches that Word, and by it He illumines and kindles hearts so that they grasp and accept it, cling to it, and persevere in it.” In the church the Spirit of God is daily pouring out the forgiveness of sins in rich measure so that on the last day we will rise from dead and join all believers in Christ in eternal life. Daily we want to thank and praise God the Holy Spirit for His work in our lives.
Why do we use creeds?
Some church bodies shy away from making formal statements of faith. The Lutheran church is not hesitant to use the historic, universal (ecumenical) creeds. We use the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. These three ancient creeds are how we confess the one, true faith of the Christian church and they help us to identify with all believers in Christ throughout all ages.
The historic creeds are, as our church recently stated in convention, “the cherished possession of the en re church down through the ages and are not just the expression of any one individual.
The church has maintained the confession for these creeds and has even suffered martyrdom rather than deny the faith confessed in them.” Therefore, the use of the historic Christian creeds is a very important part of Lutheran worship services. Because we know that personal, individual statements of faith are often times subject to imprecise and even erroneous confessions of the faith of the church, we discourage the use of informal statements of faith in the public worship of the church.
Creeds serve as a way to make sure that the church continues to believe what the word of God teaches. The treasure of truth in the word of God is what we wish to confess and to stand for as a church. It is based on these truths, as confessed in the Apostles’ Creed, that the people of God are led to serve Him in both word and deed.
When we confess the Apostles’ Creed, and the other historic creeds, we confess the faith of the Christian church. We do so with joy and confidence. With these words on our lips and in our hearts, we have the assurance that we are speaking back to God the truths He has first spoken to us. And thus, with confidence in the Lord’s sure and certain Word, we say, “This is most certainly true.”
1. Martin Luther, We All Believe in One True God, Hymn 213 in Lutheran Worship (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982)
THE Lord's Prayer
What About... The Lord’s Prayer
The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin, reconciles us to God and thus makes it possible for us to come to God in prayer. Prayer is a marvelous privilege from the Lord. He not only commands us to pray, but He invites us to pray to Him. He wants our prayers. What a fantastic blessing prayer is! The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer above every other prayer because our Lord Jesus Christ personally gave this prayer to the church. Let’s spend a few moments here exploring the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father who art in heaven.
Our Father, who from heaven above has told us here to live in love. And with our fellow Christians share, our mutual burdens and our prayer, teach us no thoughtless word to say, but from our in- most heart to pray.1
What a marvelous blessing! We are able to come to the Lord of the heavens and the earth, the maker of all things, both seen and unseen, the all-powerful and almighty God, and call Him “Father”. By nature, we human beings are not inclined to faith, trust and love in God. Instead, the Scriptures reveal we are by nature children of wrath, in rebellion against God, fallen and lost. Thanks be to God through Christ our Lord we are able to call God “Father”. What is more, He even wants us to come to Him in prayer. We pray to our heavenly Father with boldness and confidence, through Christ Jesus, our Lord, knowing that He will hear and answer our prayers, according to His good and gracious will.
Our Father who art in heaven.... You who loved us enough to send your only begotten Son to save us from our sins, I now come before You in prayer, even as Your Son has taught us to pray.
The First Petition:
Hallowed be thy name.
Your name be hallowed. Help us, Lord in purity to keep your Word, that to the glory of your name, we walk before you free from blame. Let no false teaching us pervert; all poor deluded souls convert.
God surely does not need our prayer to make sure His name is kept holy. It is holy in and of itself, and it is holy among us when we teach His Word in all its truth and purity, and live holy lives according to His Word.
1.Martin Luther, Our Father Who from Heaven Above, Hymn 431, Lutheran Worship (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982
Anyone who teaches or lives contrary to the Word of God is actually profaning and blaspheming the holy name of God.
Hallowed be they name...By grace You have brought me into Your kingdom of salvation. Ever keep me in the true faith and help me through my words and actions to hallow Your name.
The Second Petition:
Thy kingdom come.
Your kingdom come, guard your domain and your eternal righteous reign. The Holy Ghost enrich our day with gifts attendant on our way. Break Satan’s power, defeat his rage; preserve your church from age to age.
Again, God’s kingdom does not depend on our prayers, but we pray here that His Kingdom would come among us in all its grace and truth. God’s kingdom does not come because we make it come, but because the Holy Spirit is working powerfully in us so that we believe His Word and live godly lives here in time and eventually in all eternity.
Thy kingdom come...Lord, use me mightily to share your saving Gospel with others.
The Third Petition
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Your gracious will on earth be done, as it is done before your throne, that patiently we may obey in good or bad times all you say. Curb flesh and blood and every ill that sets itself against your will.
God will have His way with us and with the world, that is sure and certain. Here we are praying that His will may be done among us. We are asking God to prevent anything in our lives—including the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature—from placing an obstacle between us and the will of our God. We ask that He would give us strength to keep us steadfast in His Word until our death. This is what God’s good gracious will is all about.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...Daily cause Your holy will to be done in my life, and when the world would entice me to turn from You, give me the strength to remain faithful to You.
The Fourth Petition:
Give us this day our daily bread.
Give us this day our daily bread, and let us all be clothed and fed. From warfare, rioting, and strife, disease, and famine save our life, that we in honest peace may live, to care and greed no en- trance give.
We are asking God to lead us to recognize all the fantastic blessings He showers on us in this life, and so lead us to thank and praise Him for these blessings, which include all that we need or require in this life.
Give us this day our daily bread...Thank You for all of those temporal blessings You daily pour out into my life, and which I can so easily forget.
The Fifth Petition:
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Forgive our sins, let grace outpour, that they may trouble us no more; we too will gladly those forgive, who harm us by the way they live. Help us in each community to serve with love and unity.
Here we ask our heavenly Father not to see our sins, or deny our prayer on account of them. We recognize and here confess that we are not worthy of any of the abundance of gifts God gives us and that we surely do not deserve His blessings, but only His punishment, because we sin. Through Christ our Lord, who gave Himself for us, we are able to ask God to grant us His mercy, for the sin that daily we commit. Being forgiven so graciously by God, we want to forgive and do good to people who sin against us.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. ...Help me to be forgiving of others, even when this is difficult, always remembering how forgiving You have been of me.
The Sixth Petition:
And lead us not into temptation.
Lead not into temptation, Lord, where our grim foe and all his horde, would vex our souls on every hand. Help us resist, help us stand firm in the faith, armed with your might; your Spirit give your children light.
Here we are asking that God would protect us from temptation and keep the devil from attacking us through the world and our own sinful flesh.
We are asking that we not be led astray into false belief, or des- pair, or other shameful sins. We know we are attacked daily and tempted to live contrary to God’s will. We have the sure promise from God that Christ has overcome the world for us and will, in our final hour in this life, grant us final victory over them.
And lead us not into temptation. ...Lord, help me to resist and overcome the temptations that assail me in this life.
The Seventh Petition:
But deliver us from evil.
Deliver us from evil days, from every dark and trying maze; redeem us form eternal death, console us when we yield our breath. Give us at last a blessed end; receive our souls, O faithful friend.
We are praying here that the Lord would rescue us from every evil in this life, evils that have to do with our body, our soul, those things God has given us, our good name and so forth. We ask that when the time comes for us to be taken home to be with the Lord, God would extend His loving protection over us and take us from this valley of sorrow to be with Him forever in heaven.
And deliver us from evil. ...Keep from me all those hurts and evils in life that would assail me, and ever give me the power al- ways to resist the evil one.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen
Amen, that is, it shall be so. Make our faith strong that we may know we need not doubt but shall receive all that we ask, as we believe. On your great promise we lay claim. Our faith says “amen” in your name.
At the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, we express a confident hope in the truth that our Lord is the mighty One, whose kingdom and power and glory are for all eternity. With these words we are saying to the Lord, “You are a great and glorious God.” With the word, “Amen” we are saying, “Yes, yes it shall be so.” And thus, with the certainty that rests on the promise of God that He both invites and hears our prayer, we conclude the prayer He taught us. We say, “Amen” that is, “Yes, Lord, you have commanded me to pray to you and you promise to hear me.”
Amen, amen, may all these things we have prayed be so, for Jesus’ sake.
THE HOLY BAPTISM
What About... Holy Baptism
Suppose for a moment that there was a doctor who had such incredible talent that he could prevent people from dying, and bring those who had died back to life, never to die again. Just imagine how people would do whatever they could to be treated by this doctor! Now consider that in Holy Baptism, God actually does give us the gift of eternal life! Let’s learn more about this marvelous blessing.
What is Baptism?
Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word.1
What’s so special about a handful of simple water? Nothing, until God connects His Word to it! In Baptism, that is exactly what God is doing. He combines His life-creating and life-giving Word with the waters of Holy Baptism, and thereby we are born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:5)
What is that Word of God?
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
Our Lord commands Baptism. It is not optional, nor is it simply a nice “extra”. God’s Word takes on many forms, according to His good and gracious will. The Word is preached, taught, and pro- claimed. It is read, studied and meditated on. It is shared by Christians, with non-Christian and fellow believer, alike. And it is that Word of God, His promise, that makes Baptism what it is.
God Himself is present as His name is joined to the water, with all His power and all His blessings of forgiveness, life and salvation. Christ consecrates the water of Baptism with His Word, so as we in Baptism stand with Christ in the water, the Father calls us His be- loved children, the Holy Spirit is given to us, and heaven is opened to us.
Those who received Baptism after they have been brought to faith by the preaching or teaching of the Word also receive all the blessings God has attached to Baptism.
What benefits does Baptism give?
It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.
Which are these words and promises of God? Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16)
In and through Baptism, God cleanses us from all of our sins, snatches us from the power of Satan, and gives us everlasting life. It is all God’s doing as He gives us His blessing. It is His promise. In Baptism, our Triune God imparts to each of us personally the gifts the Lord Jesus Christ won for the world through His life, suffering, death, and resurrection. Please see especially Gal.3:27; Col.1:13- 14; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5-7 and 1 Cor.6:11
How can water do such great things?
Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s Word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trust- worthy saying” (Titus 3:5-8)
Of course, simple water can’t do such great things, but the water of baptism is not simple water! Baptism is one very special way God delivers to us the blessings Christ won for us. Baptism is not something we do, but something God does. Therefore, it is far more than a symbol. It is a sacred act in which God Himself is at work forgiving sins, giving new life in Christ and bestowing on us the Holy Spirit with all of His gifts. Baptism gives us the faith through which we receive these gifts. God the Holy Spirit works faith in the promises attached to Baptism.
What does such baptizing with water indicate?
It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. Where is this written? St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through Baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom. 6:4)
In Baptism we are buried with Christ, and in Baptism we are raised with Christ. His death and resurrection are made our own, and because of that fact, through our entire life, we are able to say, “I am baptized!” Having been buried with Christ into His death we do not have to be afraid of the tomb in which we will rot one day. Christ has already been there. In Holy Baptism we have passed through His grave into His resurrection.
As Luther says in his Large Catechism, “If I am baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body. ...Baptism is a treasure which God gives and faith grasps, just as the Lord Christ upon the cross is not a human work, but a treasure comprehended and offered to us in the Word and received by faith.”
What does Baptism have to do with our daily life?
Everything! Our entire life is a life lived trusting in in the promises of God, given to us in and through Holy Baptism. We are constantly returning to Baptism. In moments of temptation and suffering in our lives, when all seems to be crashing down on us, and in particular in those moments when our sin and the guilt of those sins haunt us, we are able, as Luther says, to “Pull out our Baptism and wave it under the devil’s nose and say, ‘I am baptized. ... I have God’s bath. It is Christ’s own blood.’ It is a bath blessed and mixed with the blood of Christ.” We can’t return to the cross of Christ, nor should we attempt to imagine ourselves back there. No, we turn instead to the “here and now” reality of God’s work in our lives. We return to our Baptism. For it was there and then that God buried us with Christ and raised us with Him to a new life.
In his Large Catechism, Luther says, “Every Christian has enough to study and to practice all his life. He always has enough to do to believe firmly what Baptism promises and brings—victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sins, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with His gifts.” And: “If you live in repentance, therefore, you are walking in Baptism, which not only announces this new life, but also produces, begins and promotes it. In Baptism we are given the grace, Spirit and power to suppress the old man, so that the new man may come forth and grow strong. Therefore, Baptism remains forever. ...Repentance, there- fore, is nothing else than a return and approach to Baptism.
Why are infants and young children baptized?
They are baptized for the same reason adults are baptized— because of the command and promise of God.
What is promised in Baptism is given to all who receive it; there- fore, infants and young children also have the promise of God. They, too, are made children of God. They, too, are included in the words “all nations” (Matt.28:19). Jesus specifically invites little children to come to Him (Luke 18:15-17). But most important, as sinners, infants need what Baptism gives.
By His word, God created all that is seen and unseen. By His word, our Lord Christ called a dead man from the tomb (John 11:43-44). The unborn child, John the Baptist, leaped in his mother’s womb when he heard the word of God (Luke 1:41-44). Why is there any doubt that in and through the Word and the promise of Baptism, God works a similar gift of faith in the infant? If we misunderstand Baptism to be our work, then we will always cast doubt on it. When we recognize that it is not our work, but God’s gracious promise and work, we realize that infants are to be baptized and receive the treasures offered in and through Baptism.
Sadly, there are individuals and church bodies that deny Baptism to young children and infants. They do not believe that these little ones need what Holy Baptism gives. They do not believe what the Bible teaches so clearly, namely, that God saves us thought Baptism. As a result of these false teachings, they deny both to themselves and to others the power, blessing and comfort of Holy Baptism. That is tragic, for it is a most serious offense against God to deny what HE plainly declares in His Word: “The promise is for you and your children” (Acts 2:39) and “Baptism now saves you.” (1 Peter 3:21)
“We see what a great and excellent things Baptism is, which snatches us from the jaws of the devil and makes God our own, overcomes and takes away sin and daily strengthens the new man. It always remains until we pass form this present misery to eternal glory” (Large Catechism).
The meaning, power and promise of Holy Baptism rest entirely on the One who lived perfectly in our place and who suffered and died as the sacrificial ransom for the sins of the world. HE rose victorious over death and the grave. In Holy Baptism, we receive all the blessings of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Thank God for His gift of Holy Baptism!
1. The words in italics are from Luther’s Small Catechism
Dr. A. L. Barry - President - The Lutheran Church –Missouri Synod