Home > Piety, Prayer, Ransacking the Lost Treasures of the Lutheran Church > Rules for Prayer from Johannes Matthesius

Rules for Prayer from Johannes Matthesius


This is taken from Seed Grains of Prayer by Wilhelm Loehe.  The English translation is available at Google Books.  This is part of a version I’m editing into booklet form to give on visits to the hospital or other occasions.

 

Christian Rules of Prayer, as Laid down by Matthesius.[1]

 

To true, Christian and salutary prayer it is necessary:

 

1. That a man lift up holy hands (II Tim. 2) and offer his devotions with a good conscience [that is, with the assurance that his sins are forgiven and that he intends to do God’s will]; for God does not hear unrepentant sinners (John 9).

 

2. That a man pray in every time of trial and need; for, the greater our need the stronger is our prayer. For that reason, God says in the 50th Psalm: “Call upon me in the day of trouble.” (At all times and in every place there is more than enough trouble to provoke us to pray, if we would only recognize it).

 

3. That a man pray, cry and sigh from out of the depths of his heart, without hypocrisy, anger, complaint or doubt, even as Moses prayed upon the shore of the Red Sea. Lip-service and mouth- work in which the heart is not engaged is not prayer.  It is vain service of God (Matt. 15).

 

4. That a man call upon the one, true and only God as He has revealed Himself at the River Jordan, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as Christ teaches in the Gospel (John 16), and in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6; Luke 11).

 

5. That a man plead the name, merit, blood, death and intercession of Christ for help, and the support of the Holy Spirit. (John 4, and 14).

 

6. That a man pray with all boldness as Abraham prayed. Gen. 18; with a mighty faith, as the centurion prayed; without murmuring or impatience, without giving up, as the Canaanite woman did; and with humility, as did Daniel. (Dan. 9).

 

7. That a man persevere, as Sirach teaches, and set no limit or goal for God, as is said in Chapter 8

of the Book of Judith.[2]

 

8. He that will thus pray needs first of all to believe, that he is reconciled to God through His Son, and must base his pleas upon baptism and the blood of Christ as well as upon God’s command and promise [i.e. God’s command to us to pray in the 2nd commandment, and His promises to hear us for Christ’s sake, such as in Luke 11 and John 15-17.] He must embrace the promise of Christ and the example of all the saints; and remember that God has frequently helped others before us.(Ps. 22:34.)

 

If prayer is to be rightly offered, all these things must be well observed and kept:

 

1. Holy hands and a good conscience.

2. Our need.

3. From the heart, without hypocrisy.

4. Calling upon the name of the One, Only God.

 5. In the name of Jesus Christ, who is the soul of all prayer.

6. Boldly.

7. Preseveringly.

8. In faith.

 

Such prayer pervades heaven, as Sirach says; and makes our joy perfect, as Christ witnesses, John 16. It attains help, gives comfort, joy, and a sure defense against all devils and evil men.

 

I.                    PREPARATORY PRAYERS.

 

The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him. (Hab. 2: 20).

From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offeredunto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. (Mal. 1: 11).

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. (Ps. 19: 15),

 

2.

For Grace to Pray Rightly.

 

I thank You, Lord, my God, for Your unspeakable favor, that You have not only commanded us to call upon Your saving Name, but, as a father, have graciously promised certainly to hear us, and to give at the proper time all that is saving and beneficial for our bodies and our souls. I pray You, O God–pour out Your Holy Spirit upon me— the Spirit of prayer— that I may always love and desire to pray.  I am daily free to draw near to You with all confidence in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ and to bow the knee before Thee in every time of need as a well-beloved child, most beloved Father.  You are a Father in truth to all Your children in heaven and on earth.   Grant that I may always lift up holy hands to You, without fear or doubt, and in full assurance that all my prayers and sighings which come from the heart are truly heard. Grant also, that when my help delays, I may be patient, not dictating to You at what time or in what way You should answer me, but to wait and abide Your own good time; for You have pleasure in those who fear You and put their trust in Your mercy. Finally, God, rule me by Your Holy Spirit, and remind me that I may daily and frequently meditate upon the hour of my death and so be prepared for it at a moment’s notice, praying always for a blessed departure from this world. Amen.


[1] Johannes Matthesius (1504-1568), who transcribed some of Martin Luther’s Table Talk, a collection of Luther’s discussions at the dinner table about theology and other matters.  He was a student of Luther’s at Wittenberg and pastor for nearly twenty years in the mining town of Joachimsthal in what is now the Czech Republic.

[2] Sirach and Judith are books from the Apocrypha.  They appear in Roman Catholic Bibles, and in Luther’s German Bible, and they used to be included in the King James Version.  Luther did not regard them as Scripture, but  considered them useful and the Lutheran Church continued to use them in worship.

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