Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In the Small Catechism, Luther teaches the head of the family how to teach his household to pray. The form is simple, memorable, and most importantly, brings to those who pray the comfort of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s take a closer look:
In the morning when you get up, make the sign of the holy cross and say:
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Luther begins with the Invocation because this is the name into which you were baptized. By starting here, you begin you day by remembering whose you are. You are God’s child, have been made a coheir with Christ, been forgiven of your sins, and have received His righteousness as your own.
Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may also say this little prayer:
As if speaking the invocation wasn’t enough, Luther goes to the Creed for in it the Gospel is proclaimed. From Creation, to the incarnation, to the death and resurrection of Jesus, and finally to the promises of eternal life guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.
And then the Lord’s Prayer, where again you remember whose you are, call out to your dear Father who loves for you, pray that His will be done, receive forgiveness of sins, and ultimately learn to trust in your Father for all things.
If it’s morning, Luther offers this simple prayer:
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
If it’s evening, here is the prayer:
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
I love the little tidbit with which Luther concludes the prayers:
(Morning) Then go joyfully to your work, singing a hymn, like that of the Ten Commandments, or whatever your devotion may suggest.
(Evening) Then go to sleep at once and in good cheer.
You see, Luther actually expects that the Gospel promises of God, which the Holy Spirit has spoken to you once again through these texts, will have an impact on your life. Comforted by the Gospel in the morning, you will meet the challenges and chances of life with faith, trusting that all things are indeed in the hands of your Father, for you placed them there in your prayers. In the evening, after a day in which your trust wavered from time to time, or when your anger got the best of you, you’ve confessed your sins and been forgiven once again. Comforted with the Gospel, at least it won’t be your conscience that keeps you from getting a good night’s rest.
Imagine the family that begins and ends each day in this way. Truly, they will be made strong by the Rock of our Salvation—Jesus Christ.
Again, this form is simple, memorable, and brings the Sabbath rest you experience on Sundays through the Divine Service, into your life each and every day. For the comfort we have in Christ is our Sabbath, and allows us to live a life resting in the arms of our loving heavenly Father.
May you now go joyfully to the work Christ has called you to.
Have a great weekend, and God bless!