Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 52

Q. 107. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A. The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power and glory to him. And in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.

It’s over. This year. And our exposition—and hopefully memorization—of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. For the last several weeks we have been thinking about prayer, and specifically the Lord’s Prayer. Of this prayer Luther said it better than I can.

This in short is the way I use the Lord’s Prayer when I pray it. To this day I suckle at the Lord’s Prayer like a child, and … Read More »

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 51

Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

The sixth petition grapples with the reality of the world, the flesh, and the devil, those areas or realms from which our temptations stem. That we might be delivered from evil is rightly translated, “deliver us from the evil one,” and, thus, relates specifically to the devil. Temptations abound. They come from within and without. And in this petition we pray that we would not succumb to them.

Praying this petition also makes us think about the reality of temptation. That is, when we pray this we cannot help … Read More »

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 50

Q. 105. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. In the fifth petition, which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

These later petitions in the Lord’s prayer really get at the basics of life. We have been dealing with the food we eat and now we turn to the basics of our relationship with God and others. Nothing is more fundamental to our existence than forgiveness. Daily we call upon God to forgive and daily we are called upon by others to do likewise.

We should also notice how closely God’s forgiveness is tied with our forgiveness of others. … Read More »

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 49

Q. 104. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A. In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

Competent is the adjective chosen by the divines to modify the portion for which we pray in this life. Competency refers to that which is adequate but not exceptional. That which is sufficient. In this petition we pray God to meet our needs. Sometimes it’s difficult to discern the difference between needs and wants. But God is a good teacher.

We have been hearing each week how Luther used these petitions to teach Master Peter, his barber, to pray. In this petition he teaches him—and us—that this petition is … Read More »

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 48

Q. 103. What do we pray for in the third petition?
A. In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

Originally it was in creation that God’s will became an expression on earth as it was in heaven. Then, through Christ, his will in heaven to save his church became a reality in Christ. Here we pray that his will in heaven would become a reality on earth in and through us. Of course, this means that we seek to do his will. This means that we obey and submit to his word.  This, then, is a prayer for our … Read More »

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 47

Q. 102. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

Last week we noted how Luther taught his barber to pray using the Lord ’s Prayer. Like here, in the first petition Luther was concerned with conversion of the enemies of the gospel and the preservation of Christ’s church in the face of opposition. It’s basically the same as our catechism. Here is what he says about the second petition:

The second petition: “Thy kingdom come.” Say: “O dear Lord, God and Father, you see how worldly wisdom and reason not only profane … Read More »

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 46

Q. 101: What do we pray for in the first petition?
A: In the first petition (which is, Hallowed be thy name) we pray, That God would enable us and others to glorify him in all that whereby he makes himself known, and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.

The first petition is a prayer for God’s glory. The first petition teaches us to begin with the end in mind. This is where we are going; this is where the world is heading; this is what we are working for in all things. We pray that, in and through us, and in and through others, God would spread his fame throughout the whole world. This is a big prayer. That said, when you pray it you can see how it brings the little things of … Read More »

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 45

Q. 100. What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A.    The preface of the Lord’s prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven, teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.

The Lord’s Prayer is structured around a preface (or introduction) and a conclusion with six petitions in between. The preface isn’t a request but rather an orientation. That is, in the preface we remind ourselves of the one to whom we will soon offer our prayers.

Because of Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. God has made us to be part of his people and we are now citizens of his kingdom. Christ is our … Read More »

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 44

Q. 99. What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?
A. The whole word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord’s prayer.

The Christian is more than a sinner who has been forgiven. He is the sinner declared both righteous and a child of God. We could say “the forensic leads to the relational”. The relational aspect of worship and prayer fills the life of the Christian. And prayer isn’t only for the individual but for the corporate as well. Prayer is a command from God (“pray without ceasing,”

1 Thessalonians 5:17) and thus sometimes we pray even when we don’t understand how it will turn out. We continue to be obedient in prayer and … Read More »

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Week 43

Q. 98. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.

The last 10 questions of the catechism take up the topic of prayer and focus specifically on the Great Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer. Practically this means that if your prayer life is in need of some encouragement, correction, or assistance, the next 10 weeks provide you with a very focused opportunity to think about prayer and to practice and participate in it.

Before taking up each petition of the prayer, our catechism offers us a terse, but pregnant, definition of prayer. Summarily, prayer is an offering of our desires unto God. Put like that it is extremely intimate and personal. After all, … Read More »