The more I use it, the less I know it. Even the simplest sections have a depth that defies reaching. Every now and again an opportunity to delve deeper into its riches presents itself, and I find myself in awe of its beauty once more. I’m speaking of the Small Catechism, of course.
Our classroom opening ritual consists of the Invocation, Luther’s Morning Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer (in Greek), the Creed (in Latin), the Pledge of Allegiance, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, and the National Anthem. By then we are ready to pray the Catechism and go to Chapel.
One day last week one of my students was silent during the Morning Prayer. We can’t have any of that, I decided. Instead of fussing at the poor child, I reckoned that he really didn’t know what he was missing out on. It was time to break Luther’s prayer down, bit-by-bit according to good Was ist das? style.
It’s a simple prayer, written for use by the children of God of all ages.
I thank you my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
I thank you my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son
God becomes a Father to us through Christ, His Son. It is Christ who revealed God as “ Our Father.” Through Christ we may speak to God as our Father, asking Him whatever we will. He is our Father in Christ; we are His children in Christ.
that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger;
Do we not confess in the First Article of the Creed that our heavenly Father, the God Almighty Creator of heaven and earth defends and protects us against all danger and guards and protects us from all evil?
and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil
In the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer we pray that “God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come.” Of course, God’s kingdom has already come to the baptized, and none will be snatched away from it (Jn 10:27-28).
that all my doings and life may please You.
When we pray this simple line we do so in accord with the First Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. To hallow God’s name, keep it holy, is to teach His Word in truth and purity so that we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Conversely, anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. So we pray here that we may not be found among those who profane God, but, rather, in the company of those who glorify His name by our work and speech.
For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul and all things.
These words Christ Himself spoke from the cross, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Lk 23:46). Our Lord and Savior, ever filling His own mouth with His Father’s Word, was quoting Psalm 31.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
Jesus trusted Himself to His Father for all things, even His death for sins that were not His own. The Father turned away from His own Son on the cross and chose to save mankind. On that day, the First Son came last, and the last sons came first. Then God’s Son was raised from the dead. He who was last is now the firstfruit of the resurrection of the dead, and those who are in Him shall be as He is. So we, too, pray as He did.
Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.
God sets His angels watch over His own. There are heavenly angels whom God sends for this purpose (Ps 34:7). And then there are other angels God sends for His purposes. For what is an angel but a messenger? And what greater power over the evil one is there than God’s own Word and Christ’s Sacraments, the very living presence of Immanuel? The Office of the Holy Ministry and the angels therein administer to the needs of Christ’s people, that the evil foe may not claim any as his own.
The blessedness of this word resounds in heaven! Yes and yes again! It shall be so because we are in Christ and He has given these words to us.