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A Simple (But Hard) Way to Prayby Duane Mabee on April 12, 2018
I’ve been reading a small booklet in which Martin Luther describes his simple method of praying. It’s called A Simple Way to Pray by Archie Parrish and it is part of the work the Fanning the Flame team is doing. We are reviewing various approaches to prayer that North River may want use as we seek to develop a culture of prayer.
Whether we end up using this booklet or not, I was impressed by how Martin Luther prayed for his enemies. Think about what these people were trying to do to Luther. They wanted him dead and were actively trying to make that happen. If I had enemies like that, I would find it hard to pray for them. I might pray about them like David does in some of the imprecatory Psalms. If you don’t know what an imprecatory Psalm is read Psalm 58 or 109. Then pray for the spiritual growth of your pastor. I wouldn’t suggest reading either of those Psalms to your children before putting them to bed at night.
Martin Luther didn’t pray for his enemies like you might expect. Instead, he repeatedly prays things like:
Dear Lord, God and Father, convert them and defend us. Convert those who are still to become children and members of Your kingdom so that they with us and we with them may serve You in Your kingdom in true faith and unfeigned love, and that from Your kingdom which has begun, we may enter into Your eternal kingdom. Defend us against those who will not turn away their might and power from the destruction of Your kingdom so that when they are cast down from their thrones and humbled, they will have to cease from their efforts. Amen.
You must admire the man’s heart. His prayer, here and in several other places, is that God would convert his enemies so that they could enjoy being part of the same body; serving God together. In the case of those who will not be converted, Luther simply prayed that God would protect His children, and make the efforts of his enemies ineffective. Luther’s prayers embody the heart of Jesus when He prayed from the cross, “Father, forgiven them, they don’t know what they are doing.”
Whatever else you may think of Luther, he seems to have gotten the “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” thing right, (Matt. 5:44-45 ESV). May God teach us how to do the same.