PRAYER FROM MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546)
None can believe how powerful prayer is, and what it is able to effect, but those who have learned it by experience.
It is a great matter, when in extreme need, to take hold on prayer. I know, whenever I have earnestly prayed, I have been amply heard, and have obtained more than I prayed for; God indeed sometimes delayed, but at last He came.
Ecclesiastes says, “The prayer of a good and godly Christian availeth more to health than the physician’s prescription.”
O, how great a thing, how marvellous, a godly Christian’s prayer is! How powerful with God; that a poor human creature should speak with God’s high Majesty in heaven, and not be afraid but, on the contrary, know that God smiles upon him for Christ’s sake, His dearly beloved Son. The heart and conscience, in this act of praying, must not fly and recoil backwards because of his sins and unworthiness, or stand in doubt, or be frightened away…….
When Moses, with the children of Israel, came to the Red Sea, then he cried with trembling and quaking; yet he opened not his mouth, he cried and sighed in his heart and said: “Ah, Lord God! What course shall I now take? Which way shall I now turn myself? How am I come to this strait? No help or counsel can save us; before us is the sea; behind us are our enemies, the Egyptians; on both sides high and huge mountains; I am the cause that all this people shall now be destroyed.” Then God answered, and said, “Wherefore criest thou unto Me?” As if God should say, “What an alarm thou dost make, that the whole heavens ring!” Human reason is not able to search this passage out. The way through the Red Sea is broad and wide, if not wider, than the distance between Wittenberg and Coburg that so, doubtless, the people were constrained in the night season to rest and to eat therein; for six hundred thousand men, besides women and children, would require a good time to pass through, though they went one hundred and fifty abreast.
It is impossible that God should not hear the prayers which with faith are made in Christ, though He give not according to the measure, manner and time we dictate, for He will not be tied. We have an example of how God dealt with the mother of Augustine. She prayed to God that her son might be converted, but as yet it would not be; then she ran to the learned, entreating them to persuade and advise him thereunto. She proposed unto him a marriage with a Christian virgin that thereby he might be drawn and brought to the Christian faith, but all would not do as yet. But when our Lord God came, He came to purpose and made of him such an Augustine that he became a great light to the church. James says: “Pray one for another, for the prayer of the righteous availeth much.” Prayer is a powerful thing; for God has bound and tied Himself to it.
Upright Christians pray without ceasing; though they pray not always with their mouths, yet their hearts pray continually, sleeping and waking; for the sign of a true Christian is a prayer.
The Lord’s prayer binds the people together and knits them one to another, so that one prays for another, and together one with another; and it is so strong and powerful that it even drives away the fear of death.
Prayer preserves the church, and hitherto has done the best for the church; therefore we must continually pray. Hence Christ says, “Ask and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
When we are in trouble, He will have us to pray. For God often, as it were hides Himself, and will not hear; yea, will not suffer Himself to be found. Then we must seek Him; that is, we must continue in prayer.