Martin Luther’s guidelines for prayer

By Dave Henning / December 22, 2014

“Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven.”- Lamentations 3:41

“He [Martin Luther] speaks with the great reverence of one who speaks to his God, and with trust and hope of one who speaks with his father and friend.”- Veit Dietrich, friend of Luther

Timothy Keller continues Chapter 6 of Prayer with a discussion of a rich, but practical set of guidelines for prayer given by Martin Luther to his barber, Peter Beskendorf.  Pastor Keller describes three guidelines delineated by Luther.

1.  Cultivate prayer as a habit through regular discipline.  Luther proposed praying twice a day- the first business of the morning and the last at night.  Prayer is not something we should put off.  We must pray whether we are in the mood or not.

2.  Focus your thoughts- warm and engage your affections for prayer.  This guideline provides a balance to the first guideline.  While we should pray regardless of our feelings, we must do everything possible to engage and warm our hearts as we lift our hearts to the Lord in prayer.

3.  Prepare for prayer.  Luther advised reciting some part of Scripture to ourselves as preparation for prayer.  Recitation is a form of meditation or contemplation (Luther’s term) designed to converge our thoughts and feelings on God.  Luther said: I want your heart to be stirred and guided . . . rightly warmed and inclined toward prayer.”

Today’s question: Which of Luther’s guidelines strike you are particularly significant?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Luther’s four strands of meditation”

About the author

    Dave Henning