Full Text for Confessions 2- Volume 30 - How Does the Lord's Prayer Help Us? (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS LC2 30 Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 800 825 5234 www.captionfirst.com *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *** >> JOSH: So, if I understand you correctly, the Lord's Prayer can serve as a model for us. What does it show us? What should we pray for? >> DR. KOLB: The Lord divided his prayer, in terms of the language he used, into two parts. There are three petitions that say "May your." And these are petitions that pray on a grand scale for the activity of God in the whole world. May your name be holy, may your kingdom come, may your will come about on earth as in heaven. And then the prayer turns much closer to home. It comes to our individual needs, to the needs of the group with whom we are praying or for us as individuals. And there instead of the "may your" form, it becomes an imperative, an imperative request, I suppose we could say. Give us daily bread. Forgive us or remit that which we owe to you literally in German. Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from evil. And so the Christian is called to pray for the whole world and for all people in it, for all of God's activities. That's a powerful command and promise. That God wants to involve you and me in the way he runs the world. Luther's language is really quite telling. He says the name of God is holy without our prayer. God's not dependent on us to ask. But, when we are drawn by the Holy Spirit into involvement in this prayer for the whole for making holy God's name, then we are also in a very personal and individual way praying that we regard his name as holy. How does that happen? Luther wants the children to ask so that they can hear or so that they can recite. The word of God becomes holy in our lives when we hear and when we share the word of God clearly and purely. God wants to communicate with us and with other people and clearly and purely as a reminder that that communication has to be right on target. It has to be correct. It has to be conveying the intention of God. You and I don't always do that, of course. We need to ask God's forgiveness for when we don't do that. But that is God's ideal for our lives. God wants us to be living in his word. And we tend to be living out of his word. As Luther goes on, we live holy lives according to the word of God when the Holy Spirit brings us into his word. And then Luther warns, those who do not live according to God's word profane the name of God among us. It's not just cussing and swearing that profanes the name of God. It's anything that misrepresents the love of our heavenly father in Jesus Christ to other people. And, whatever we do in our lives that does not reflect well on the family name, on the name of our God is profaning his name. So that's a word of law, word of judgment that Luther finds in our praying "May your name be hallowed." But "may your name be hallowed" is also a confession of faith for Luther. It is an assertion that the Holy Spirit is working this faith in the word of God, this proper use of the word of God in our lives and we are praying that that may go on. Then our Lord goes on to pray for the coming of God's kingdom, of God's rule. Kingdom should not be understood in the way we think of it as a kind of place. But it's the active rule of God throughout the world. God's kingdom comes without our prayer, but we want it to come to us. And how does that happen? Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, Luther reminds us, so that we trust his holy word, a product of his grace, Luther notes. And so that we give Godly lives. Those Godly lives embrace the sharing of his word. Which actually deliver his rule into the lives of those whom he converts through our witness. And those godly lives include every other form of love that we show to our neighbor from the least little thing we do for the tiniest little baby to the larger works of love that may even attract the attention of others. But Luther believes, actually, that, for the most part, God goes about ruling our lives through the incidentals, through the little things in our lives that just show God's love in the course of normal daily life. To that, our Lord joins the prayer that God's will may come about. And in a sense we might say that we've already covered this in the first and second petitions. But Christ gives us the specific prayer request, petition, "may your will come about on earth as in heaven." Again, Luther says that's going to happen no matter what. But we want it to happen in our midst and in our own lives. And the will of God triumphs when God breaks and hinders every evil scheme and will. The church, from at least the time of the father, North African father Cipria in the 3rd century, talked about the enemies of the Christian as the devil, the world, and our flesh. And God's will invades and triumphs over the rule, the kingdom of Satan. God comes to do battle in our own lives, on the battlefield of our own lives with Satan and the world and our flesh. Because they are continually trying to get us not to hallow God's name but to worship some kind of false God or gods. They try to prevent God's rule in our lives, the rule that delivers us faith, that delivers us the power to do good works. And so, when we pray "Thy will be done," we are praying that what God wants for our lives come about in us and through us against the old evil foe, against the enemy. And that means, Luther says, that we are praying to be steadfast in his word and in the trust that orients our lives, our entire lives to him. And that this will continue to be done in our lives till the very end. Once we have prayed for the whole world but, specifically, for our role in the plan of God in the whole world, then we turn to our own needs. When Luther first began commenting on the Lord's Prayer in the late 15 teens, early 1520s, he interpreted the fourth petition as a prayer for daily spiritual bread. He spiritualized the whole Lord's Prayer. In late medieval preaching on the Lord's Prayer, there were some instances of interpreters who did that. But there were other instances of an interpretation that talked about physical nourishment. And by 1529 Luther had become convinced that God wants us not just to pray for our relationship with him, but also for all the blessings that he gives us in the midst of this world. So he says, again, well, God gives daily bread even if we fail to pray, even if we forget about praying. But he gives us his special gifts, and we want to enjoy them as his special gifts. We don't want to be like evil people who don't recognize that God is there as the giver in all the little blessings and the big blessings we enjoy in the course of daily life. He wants us to receive with Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving just makes receiving all the more fun. Because Thanksgiving reinforces the fact that we are talking with our heavenly father as our heavenly father is giving us these things. And Luther has a wonderful way of becoming very concrete. So here again, as we saw also in the first article, in Luther's explanation of the first article, Luther has a wonderful list of the things that are embraced by his phrase the necessities and nourishment for our bodies. It includes food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, harm farm, fields, livestock. As we said earlier, livestock isn't as foreign to us today as we'd like to think because we all have pets of one kind or another. Then he, again, goes on with very concrete blessings from God. Money, property. Then he goes on to the people who are blessings and upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors and the like. The whole of our lives are embraced by Luther. You may wonder about the translation of the word that I just mentioned with the English word "upright." The word is "fromm." And under Luther's influence, according to linguistic scholars, "fromm" took on, in the course of the 16th century, its meaning of pious in a special way. Religious, spiritual. But, at the beginning of the 16th century, linguistic scholars point out that it hadn't acquired that narrowly religious meaning yet. So "fromm" probably shouldn't be translated pious, as I first learned it, but upright. Just decent people. The kind of people that you want as your spouse, as members of your household, as your ruler, and so forth. And so Luther is really simply talk about human life under the first article, as God created human beings to be when he prays for the blessings of this petition. Then he goes on to pray for the forgiveness of that which we have done wrong, the forgiveness of our debts, literally in German, the forgiveness of our sins. Luther places this petition in the larger context of the Lord's Prayer. We ask in this petition that the heavenly father not say I'm not going to grant them their other requests because of their sins. We are worthy of nothing. We have not earned any of the blessings for which we have asked. But we ask that, in spite of this, God give us grace. And then Luther includes a confession of sins. We daily sin much and indeed deserve only punishment. The petition, of course, asks for the forgiveness of sins according to the model of our own forgiving other people. And Luther adds then the fact that God forgives us makes us want to forgive heartily and do good gladly even to our enemies, to those who are opposed to us. Many Christians stumble over this. I've had students tell me that they didn't want to pray the Lord's Prayer because they know that their own forgiving of other people is imperfect. They find it difficult to forgive other people. And so they are afraid that they are sealing their own doom by saying "forgive us our trespass as we forgive those who trespass against us." Luther here takes a little bit different approach to that. We want to forgive. We want to forgive. The forgiveness of God changes our hearts, changes our mind, makes us want to forgive and to do good. I also think that what the Lord was saying is you can't even imagine that God could forgive you. In the world of the Pharisees of his day, it was entirely likely that there were some at least in his audience when he first gave us instruction on how to pray who said, "God can only forgive me if I have done some kind of activity that fulfills his law and makes me qualified for the forgiveness of sins." Not the way all the Pharisees taught, we know. But it's one attitude of I suppose of certain pious and scrupulous people in every age. And so our Lord was saying no, God's forgiveness is like human forgiveness. You've experienced how you can forgive other people. And so know that God will forgive you in that way. I think we can use this petition, however, to remind our people of what forgiveness really means in our own lives. It means, first of all, that God forgives us. And that means that the slate is wiped clean. That we do not dare to live in the shadow of sins which we have already taken to Christ and asked him to deposit in his tomb. I think sometimes it's a sign of false faith, of weak faith at least, when we continually dwell on our guilt and/or our past sins. I remember students coming into my office on Monday morning after they had received the Lord's Supper and absolution and a good sermon just 24 hours earlier still believing the devil's lie that they were basically sinners, that they were fundamentally sinners and not redeemed children of God. And so we need to remember, as we study this petition, first of all, that we really are the forgiven children of God. Then, secondly, we need to remember that forgiveness of others from our own hearts is not some obligation. It's not something that God compels us to do. It is something that frees us from being imprisoned to the person who has sinned against us, to the sin of that person who has sinned against us. I will admit to you that it was kind of a disappointment when I realized that forgiving other people makes good psychological sense. I wanted it to be something kind of special and spiritual. And it is, in fact, something that we don't do very gladly as sinners. It's something that really we need the power of the Holy Spirit to do. But that just shows how confused we are as sinners because forgiveness makes good sense. If you hit me in the nose, you've done me some harm. If you hit me in the nose and I think I have to hit you back, you've done me harm twice because you have imprisoned me in my own desire to justify my own power and control of my life. You have imprisoned me in my own desire for revenge. And so we need to help our people understand that forgiving one another is an active liberation from that sin and from the power that sinner has wanted to have over us. When you hit me in the nose, you wanted to make me feel small. You wanted to demonstrate your own power. And by forgiving you, I show the power of God and I show that I am free from that power that you wanted to exercise over me. And so it's a little more than just there in Luther's explanation. But it certainly reflects his understanding of how God's forgiveness produces in us the desire to forgive heartily, the desire to do good gladly to those who sin against us. And then we pray "Lead us not into temptation." Luther's whole understanding of the Christian life focused on the mystery of the continuation of sin and evil in the lives of the baptized. He knew that the whole Christian life was a struggle. He knew that we would never reach perfection even though the Holy Spirit aides us in overcoming our sinful habits, even though the Holy Spirit daily brings this forgiveness of sins that enlivens our love of our neighbor as well as our love of God. But we're always involved in the struggle. So Luther says God doesn't tempt anyone. But we want him to preserve and keep us because we are in a fight with the devil, the world, and our flesh. The devil's name is liar. You remember in John 8:44 the Lord calls the devil the liar. And, because he's a liar, he's a murderer. He tells us the path to success, to the good life goes in this direction. And by sending us off in that direction, he wants to send us over the cliff into the eternal abyss of hell and kill us, as far as God is concerned, forever. And so the devil and his junior partners, the world and our own sinful desires, are always trying to deceive us. They're always trying to mislead us. They're trying to mislead us into, first of all, a false faith, a false orientation for life, a false trust. They're trying to make us despair so that we think we cannot turn to God anymore. And they lead us into every other shameful, sinful kind of vice. So in this petition we are praying that, in the midst of their incessant never ceasing attacks, we may prevail and gain that victory that Christ has won for us through his own death and resurrection. Some biblical scholars would say that it is the sixth and seventh petitions are just one. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. I'm kind of glad that Luther followed the traditional division and singled out "deliver us from evil." We don't know whether our Lord really intended this to say "deliver us from the evil one," specifically aimed against Satan, or "deliver us from every kind of evil that Satan, the world, and our flesh produce to attack us." But Luther sums up the Lord's Prayer by saying we ask as a kind of summary, a summary of the previous six petitions, that our Father in heaven may deliver us from everything that attacks what God gives us as human beings our body, our soul, our property, our reputation so that and, again, we get the eschatological orientation of Luther's whole faith. So that, when our final hour comes, when the last struggle comes, when the bitter fight comes to its end against Satan, we may have a blessed end, leave this valley of tears, be taken to Him in heaven. And so we say at the end "amen." I like to paraphrase amen with the old phrase from Walter Cronkhite, the newscaster in my younger days who ended every broadcast by saying "That's the way it is." And so when we say "amen" from the Hebrew word for faithfulness, we are confessing that we know that God will be faithful, that he will hear us, and that he will fulfill his promise not to grant us everything we ask for, but to grant us what we need so that we may remain in the joy and peace that he gives us through Christ our Lord. *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***