Luther believed that the Lord’s Prayer was an excellent model for prayer. In fact, said Luther, had the Lord known a better prayer he would have taught us that one as well! That being the case, it’s not surprising to find that Luther’s method is grounded in the Lord’s Prayer. In other words, Luther would take each part of the Lord’s Prayer and pray through it.
You are a pastor in a small city. You’ve known your barber for almost twenty years. One day while he trims he asks for help in prayer. He, like many others, struggles in that area. So, you decide to go home and write a brief thirty-four page guide for him. You even incorporate your friend in the work. Encouraging attentiveness in prayer you write, “So, a good and attentive barber keeps his thoughts, attention, and eyes on the razor and hair and does not forget how far he has gotten with his shaving or cutting.” Once finished you decide to publish the work and it’s ready for popular consumption by the early part of the year. Now, your friend and others have help.
What you just read is fact and not fiction. Peter Beskendorf, Martin Luther’s barber asked this very question. In response, Luther wrote a brief book titled A Simple Way to Pray. It’s a little gem. And it is exactly what you would expect from the pen of Luther, nothing more and nothing less. For example, in Luther’s pithy way he warns us not to become lax and lazy with regard to prayer because “the devil who besets us is not lazy or careless.”
Luther also gives the sort of advice that you don’t hear very often today. For instance, he says, “Finally, mark this, that you must always speak the Amen firmly.” He goes on to explain exactly what he means. As firmly as his amen, Luther says, “Do not leave your prayer without having said or thought, ‘Very well, God has heard my prayer; this I know as a certainty and a truth.’ This is what Amen means.” I wonder how many of us need that simple but profound instruction.
But Luther does more than give encouragements and terse sound bites. His simple way is nothing less than a way to pray. So, let me simply walk you through his method.