Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.
Small Catechism III, “The Lord’s Prayer” pp. 357-359.
Large Catechism III, “The Lord’s Prayer’ pp. 441-457.
Luther’s Small Catechism continues in a very pastoral tone as it approaches the Lord’s Prayer, which it divides into an introduction, seven petitions, and a final “amen” (Kolb 200, 357-359). In the introduction, God calls us to ask him for what we need, confidently. In the first three petitions we ask God to do things which he has already promised to do. Yet when we ask him to make his name holy we want him to do it in us as we live holy lives (Kolb 200, 357). Likewise we want his kingdom to come in our godly lives and his will to be done in us as he strengthens us (Kolb 2000, 358). The fourth petition recognizes that all the things we have and all we need come from God as he enables us and others to work (Kolb 2000, 358). The fifth petition prays that God would give us forgiveness by grace and enable us also to be forgiving. In the sixth petition we ask that God would protect us, since we are always surrounded by temptation. The seventh petition asks for rescue from all sorts of evil. The “amen” is a final affirmation that we want God to do all according to his grace (Kolb 2000, 359).
Luther begins the segment on the Lord’s Prayer by reviewing the structure of the catechism. First we heard what we do in the commands, then what we believe in the creed. Now we learn how to pray. We need this especially because we cannot obey or believe perfectly (Kolb 200, 441). In accord with the second commandment we pray, using God’s name, calling upon him (Kolb 2000, 442). Though God does not need our prayers, already knowing all and being able to accomplish all, he has still commanded prayer. This makes it important (Kolb 2000, 443). Luther also notes the content of prayer. “A person who wants to make a request must present a petition naming and describing something that he or she desires; otherwise it cannot be called a prayer” (Kolb 2000, 444). Therefore, we identify needs in us and people around us. “We should always remind God of his commandment and promise” (Kolb 2000, 445). With that said, Luther turns to a brief treatment of the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (Kolb 2000, 445ff). While the Small Catechism gives brief explanations, here he goes into more detail, particularly telling what we ask to be accomplished as well as what we would hope to avoid. For instance (Kolb 2000, 446), we ask that God’s name would be made holy and wish also that we would not bring dishonor to God’s name. In summary, at the end of his comments, Luther observes that in this prayer all the challenges of life are addressed. We can pray with confidence that the Lord will care for us in every circumstance (Kolb 2000, 457).