Tag Archives: Martin Luther

Martin Luther and #Reformation500

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 29, 2017

Martin Luther stained glass

Martin Luther and #Reformation500

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran minister, theologian and seminary professor. I am not certain, but I suspect he might have been pleased to celebrate with much of the Protestant world this year. Celebrate what? Martin Luther and his posting of the 95 theses, of course.

Today is a festive day in the church. Reformation Sunday, the last Sunday in October every year when we remember the bravery and determination of Father Martin Luther, Professor of Theology at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. He was brave and determined for nailing up the 95 theses (or, grievances) against the Catholic Church on the door of the Wittenberg chapel on All Hallow’s Eve, October 31, 1517.

500 years! A huge anniversary, indeed. I care very much about this celebration. I was baptized and confirmed a Lutheran and spent two full years studying Luther’s Small Catechism in confirmation preparation. Yes, Martin Luther and his theology are important to me and to my personal history of faith.

I’ve preached on the five “Solas” (or, “onlies”) of the Protestant Reformation throughout the month of October. I started the month with Sola Scriptura, then Soli Deo Gloria on October 8th. Solus Christus on October 15th, Sola Gratia on October 22nd, and today—Reformation Sunday—my text was Romans 3:28, and I preached on Sola Fide. These phrases are the hallmarks of the Reformation! I was so pleased to research these important scriptural ideas and preach messages on them to commemorate such a foundational event.

The posting of the 95 Theses was not supposed to cause a rift in Christianity. No, Martin wanted to reform his beloved Church from the inside. However, due to many internal and some external reasons, it did not happen. Luther founded the denomination that bears his name to this day. (Also, several other streams of Protestants sprang forth at this turbulent time of the 1500’s. Sadly, many bloody battles were fought over religious and theological differences. This has not stopped today. However, new cries for ecumenism have been heard for the past few decades. After several hundred years of separation, now, at least, there are also calls for joining together.

Perhaps fractured Christianity might come closer together, in our time. One can dream. One can hope.

Let us pray, using the words of President Abraham Lincoln (adapted): “Grant, O merciful God, that with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as You give us to see the right, we may strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the world’s wounds….to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Simplicity, According to Martin Luther

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 19, 2017

Matt 6-31 worry word cloud

Simplicity, According to Martin Luther

I just love Martin Luther. Perhaps it is because I was baptized, confirmed, and brought up in the Lutheran Church. Perhaps it was because I read some of Martin Luther’s writings in high school, as well as a biography and several church history books about him. (So, yes. I do know a few things about Martin.)

It was with great joy that I read this selection from Martin’s writings on the Sermon on the Mount, specifically 6:25-34.

I considered Martin’s heartfelt, plain-spoken words to hit the nail on the head: “Now, since the birds have learned so well the art of trusting [God] and of casting their cares from themselves upon God, we who are His children should do so even more….When we listen to the little birds singing every day, we are listening to our own embarrassment before God and the people….Here you have another example and analogy; according to it, the little flowers in the field, which cattle trample and eat, are to become our theologians and masters and to embarrass us still further.” [1]

Yes, I felt the sting of Martin Luther’s words. (I think his words were supposed to sting!) Yes, sting, and convict our hearts. When Martin finally comes around to verses 31 and 32 (“Now let these illustrations persuade you to lay aside your anxiety and your unbelief and to remember that you are Christians and not heathen.”), suddenly it is as if the sun has come out, flowers bloom and birds sing gaily. “[God] will not forsake you. He is faithful and willing to take special care of you Christians, because as has been said, He cares for the birds of the air as well.” [2]

Talk about having faith and trust in simplicity! Martin Luther had it in abundance. When I feel as if the anxiety or stress is growing by leaps and bounds, I can halt, quiet myself internally, take stock, and try to calm myself. Center myself. Breathe, slow down, and loosen up the tight muscles, shoulders and back. It really does help to make things more manageable. (Can I get an “amen” to that?)

Dear Lord, thank You for this wonderful example. Thank You for reminding me about Martin Luther, and about his view of scripture and of faith and trust. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er.

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 122.

[2] Ibid, 124.

Depending on God – in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 1, 2015

vessel - clay pot

Depending on God – in Prayer

October the first. A new month, a clean calendar page—and another method of praying in this Year of Everyday Prayers. That’s me praying every day, just to be crystal clear.

And now, for something completely different. I am turning to The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. I’ve chosen to pray this month with the section entitled “Prayers of Christians: Personal and Occasional.” These are prayers covering almost 2000 years, prayers from all over the world.

These prayers are also arranged in the framework of the Lord’s Prayer, from Matthew 6:9b-13. Focused on “Our Father,” today’s prayer is about dependence. (Prayer 137, page 53) [1]

Martin Luther wrote this prayer of dependence. I was so struck with the opening: “Behold, Lord. An empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it.” Good God!—such honesty. Such a straight-forward way of asking You to fill him with whatever You had for him, today. (Or, on the day that he prayed this prayer.)

Lord, do I have that same honesty? Honest enough to be up front with You? You know me so much better than I can possibly know myself. But can I be honest enough to bring you myself? As flawed and broken as I am, and ask You to fill me? But, that’s not all. Martin calls himself “an empty vessel.” I think he had the idea that he wanted to be used by You. (And not in a bad, manipulative way, either.) Rather, used like a trusty tool, or a favorite baking dish. Something useful, greatly appreciated, and even well loved.

Dear Lord, with Martin I ask You to fill me, an empty vessel.. Fill me with the love You radiate to others. Fill me with the kindness You display. Fill me with the caring You show in abundance. Fill me with the willingness to serve. Dear Lord, gracious God, fill me with all that You wish to give me. And, lastly, with Martin I pray that You strengthen my faith and trust in You. Amen.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 53.

To Rock the Church, To Tip Sacred Cows, To Pray

matterofprayer blog post for Friday, October 31, 2014

God refuge and strength Ps 46-1

To Rock the Church, To Tip Sacred Cows, To Pray

Today is Halloween, October 31. Today, in Chicago, it‘s a cold and windy day for trick or treating. (Bundle up those children! Brrr.)

But today is also All Hallow’s Eve. The day before All Saints Day, which for centuries is the day that liturgical churches have traditionally commemorated the saints who have died, who have gone before us. That great cloud of witnesses that Hebrews 12:1 talks about.

Today is the 497th anniversary of the date that Martin Luther, at that time Catholic priest and Doctor (or Professor) of Theology at the University of Wittenberg, had had enough of the church establishment of his time. He posted a list of formal disagreements on the university bulletin board, which happened to be the door of the university chapel. That list—which we now know today as the 95 Theses—sparked a sea change in religious thought from that time forward. Martin Luther and his list rocked the church. Tipped sacred cows.

I was baptized and confirmed in a Lutheran church in Chicago several decades ago. Martin Luther and his declaratory act on that All Hallow’s Eve five hundred years ago has been dear to my heart since I was a teenager. I have traveled a long way down religious, spiritual and theological roads since then, but I always remember Martin Luther. His great emphasis on being freed from the bondage of sin, and saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ, remains with me.

Also, Martin Luther was a great man of prayer. He would spend many hours in prayer each week. This was on top of his busy schedule, managing, teaching, traveling, lecturing, preaching, and preparing his sermons and talks. And then, he wrote many volumes of commentaries, translated the whole Bible into German (both Old and New Testaments), plus handled a huge correspondence with people all over Europe. Yet, there was always time in his life for prayer.

Whatever tradition each of us, individually, springs from, I hope we may all affirm Martin’s wonderful focus on prayer as the foundation of his life. He depended on prayer. Moreover, prayer and Scripture are so closely linked in his mind that he could not imagine one without the other. Like Martin, I ask for earnestness of heart to be able to follow God daily, and to give prayer the highest place of priority in my life.

Let’s pray. Dear God, gracious Redeemer, we thank You for examples like Martin Luther, who we remember as a great man of faith as well as prayer. We remember with him that You are our refuge and strength, a mighty fortress that never will fail us. Thank You for Your love and faithfulness. Help us as we continue to follow You. In the mighty name of God we pray, Amen.


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Praying for Myself? Praying for Others, Too.

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, April 28, 2014

Luther plan to pray three hours

Praying for Myself? Praying for Others, Too.

I had a good deal to do today. A brief article, finished in less than an hour, I am proud and glad to say. I had several meetings, did some computer work, and then some more research. And finally, yoga! (Boy, did I need my gentle yoga class! The best. Especially my teacher! But I won’t fangirl overmuch now.)

I did not take my usual time in the morning to pray, though. I tossed and turned last night, and so got only about four hours of sleep—all told. With the little naps in between times, and everything. Yup. About four hours. However, I did snatch a few minutes her and a few moments there, in the midst of everything that happened today.

How I missed my time of prayer this morning!

I find myself agreeing with Martin Luther, with the principle about prayer. Such a marvelous quote! Except, I cannot spend three hours in prayer, straight, at one time. Forgive me, Martin! And especially, forgive me, God! Sure, I can do a half hour now, fairly easily. But I’m not in the major leagues yet, nor do I expect to be any time soon. However, I am grateful that I am able to spend a half hour at a time with God now, on a regular basis. And I suspect God is happy, too!

Let’s pray. Dear God, I stand in awe at people like Martin Luther. His capacity for and practice of prayer? Awesome! Dear God, help me to learn to pray more, better, and more faithfully. Encourage our hearts and help us as we are all on this road to a closer walk with You. In the name of Your risen Son, we pray all of these things. Alleluia, amen!


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink:

The business—or busy-ness—of life?

Business stuff. My work life has been chock full of stuff lately. As a result, that means my husband, children and apartment all get less time allotted to them. Oh, yeah. And my prayer life usually gets short shrift, too.

I miss praying. I really do. When I feel myself losing my temper, or becoming anxious, or feeling the stress of many pressures weighing me down, I sometimes wish I had taken more time to pray.

I am not particularly a morning person. (The clock on my computer says the time is 11:50 pm right now. Case in point.) However, I now am finding some benefit to getting up early in the morning—earlier than I would prefer, most times—to pray.

From time to time, I remember Martin Luther put a high priority on prayer. So high, in fact, that I cannot ever measure up. Take a look at one of his quotes: “If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” Luther’s kind of example makes me feel pretty insignificant, for sure. But I need to persevere. Continue to pray. And I can remember that people today are quite similar to the people of the 1500’s.

Luther had many faults, but he also had a great amount of courage. It takes a sizable amount of courage to stand up to a large religious institution and point out some glaring flaws. I can relate to Luther, as far as both of us having a great many flaws. Please, God, help me to have just a little of his tremendous courage and persistence in the face of opposition and animosity. (Except I don’t particularly want to face the tremendous kind of enemies and resistance that he did.)

Thank God that I don’t need to deal with problems the size of Martin Luther’s problems. My problems are sizable enough! When work (and all its attendant necessary stuff) gets to be cumbersome, or frantic, or even deathly dull, what choice do I have? I can pray. And God has promised to be right by my side. Thanks for God’s promise from the Hebrew Scriptures, Isaiah 41:10. It’s stated in a verse of one of my all-time favorite hymns. “Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed/For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.”

What else can I say, except—thanks, God.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thanks for the example shown to us by those who have gone before—like Martin Luther. I remember his faults, and I see mine as well. Forgive me, God. I praise You for Your forgiveness of his faults, and mine, too. Help me to follow his good example of prayer. Thanks for the intimacy You offer us, any time. Amen.