Luther on Motivation to Pray

This is from Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Trueman.

For Luther, it is not the desire for reading Scripture that fuels prayer; it is reading Scripture that fuels the desire for prayer. That the Christian may not feel like praying is one of the Devil’s tricks played on weak and sinful flesh; the answer is the discipline of reading and meditation, both corporate and individual. One might draw an analogy with marital love: the husband is commanded by God’s Word to love his wife. That command is independent of how the husband feels at any given moment. He is to act in a loving way toward her, and as he does so, his love for her will itself deepen and grow. So it is to be with prayer: reading Scripture shapes people in such a way that their prayer life will deepen and grow as a result.

What is perhaps most noteworthy in all this, of course, is the routine nature of the practice of the Christian life. Nothing Luther proposes in itself is particularly exciting or novel. We live in an age mesmerized both by technique and by the extraordinary. Modern evangelicalism, particularly in America, has been shaped by the kind of revivalism pioneered by Charles Finney in the nineteenth century. Find the right techniques and one will achieve the desired spiritual results; and typically those techniques involve something unusual or impressive. For Luther, this would all have been alien and obnoxious: the Word is powerful in and of itself; and the ways in which the Word works are ordinary and routine.

I may post more quotes from this excellent book in the future.

Luther wrote a letter to his barber called A Simple Way To Pray if you’d like to read more on what he says about prayer. Another good resource is Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer, which is a website with very brief aspects of prayer and includes Scripture with each one. You can even choose between four Bible translations.

Luther on the Christian Life

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