A Laymen’s Commentary on the Large Catechism: Seventh Petition

This is part 24 of 26 in the series A Layman's Commentary on the Large Catechism

 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

(Psalm 23)

 

The Seventh Petition.

But deliver us from evil.

What does this mean?–Answer.

We pray in this petition, as in a summary, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from all manner of evil, of body and soul, property and honor, and at last, when our last hour shall come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself into heaven.

Amen.

What does this mean?–Answer.

That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven and heard; for He Himself has commanded us so to pray, and has promised that He will hear us. Amen, Amen; that is, Yea, yea, it shall be so.

(Small Catechism)

 

From evil, Lord, deliver us;
The times and days are perilous.
Redeem us from eternal death,
And, when we yield our dying breath.
Console us, grant us calm release,
And take our souls to You in peace.

Amen, that is, so shall it be.
Make strong our faith in You, that we
May doubt not but with trust believe
That what we ask we shall receive.
Thus in Your name and at Your Word
We say, “Amen, O hear us, Lord!”

(LSB 766)

 

The Seventh Petition.

112] But deliver us from evil. Amen.

113] In the Greek text this petition reads thus: Deliver or preserve us from the Evil One, or the Malicious One; and it looks as if He were speaking of the devil, as though He would comprehend everything in one, so that the entire substance of all our prayer is directed against our chief enemy. For it is he who hinders among us everything that we pray for: the name or honor of God, God’s kingdom and will, our daily bread, a cheerful good conscience, etc.

114] Therefore we finally sum it all up and say: Dear Father, pray, help that we be rid of all these calamities. 115] But there is nevertheless also included whatever evil may happen to us under the devil’s kingdom-poverty, shame, death, and, in short, all the agonizing misery and heartache of which there is such an unnumbered multitude on the earth. For since the devil is not only a liar, but also a murderer, he constantly seeks our life, and wreaks his anger whenever he can afflict our bodies with misfortune and harm. Hence it comes that he often breaks men’s necks or drives them to insanity, drowns some, and incites many to commit suicide, and to many other terrible calamities. 116] Therefore there is nothing for us to do upon earth but to pray against this arch-enemy without ceasing. For unless God preserved us, we would not be safe from him even for an hour.

117] Hence you see again how God wishes us to pray to Him also for all the things which affect our bodily interests, so that we seek and expect help nowhere else except in Him. 118] But this matter He has put last; for if we are to be preserved and delivered from all evil, the name of God must first be hallowed in us, His kingdom must be with us, and His will be done. After that He will finally preserve us from sin and shame, and, besides, from everything that may hurt or injure us.

This final petition sums up all the previous by asking God deliver us from evil.  For if there were no more evil, then all the petitions we just prayed for would already be done. God’s name would be kept holy among us.  His kingdom would be here.  His will would be accomplished and complete.  We would have an abundance of daily bread.  There would be no sins to forgive and no temptations.  Thus, this last petition is a succinct capstone.

This petition is actually more specific, though, in that it is a prayer against our chief enemy, Satan (John 8:12-59).  This petition demonstrates that there is, in fact, no sin in praying for the hindrance or destruction of our enemies.  This is also demonstrated by the Imprecatory Psalms.  For good to triumph, evil must be vanquished.  If it is not vanquished by the conversion of evil foes into good friends, then it will be vanquished by the destruction of those foes.  So we both pray for the conversion of our enemies and if they will not convert for God to thwart them at every turn (Mark 9:14-29).

119] Thus God has briefly placed before us all the distress which may ever come upon us, so that we might have no excuse whatever for not praying. But all depends upon this, that we learn also to say Amen, that is, that we do not doubt that our prayer is surely heard, and [what we pray] shall be done. For this is nothing else than the word of undoubting faith, which does not pray at a venture, but knows that God does not lie to him, since He has promised to grant it. 120] Therefore, where there is no such faith, there cannot be true prayer either.

121] It is, therefore, a pernicious delusion of those who pray in such a manner that they dare not from the heart say yea and positively conclude that God hears them, but remain in doubt and say, How should I be so bold as to boast that God hears my prayer? For I am but a poor sinner, etc.

122] The reason for this is, they regard not the promise of God, but their own work and worthiness, whereby they despise God and reproach Him with lying, and therefore they receive nothing. 123] As St. James 1:6 says: But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. 124] Behold, such importance God attaches to the fact that we are sure we do not pray in vain, and that we do not in any way despise our prayer.

Amen is an ancient Hebrew word that means: “Yes, yes it is so.”  We say amen at the end of prayers and confessions of faith to state that we firmly believe what we just said to be true and that it will surely be done (2 Corinthians 1:12-22, Titus 1:1-4).  The Father has promised to hear and grant our prayers.  Thus we should have full faith and confidence that He hears us. We must have no doubt when we pray. Doubt is not healthy in prayer.

We must fully and firmly believe on God’s promises.  If we are praying for something that God has not promised, then we should not pray about it.  We must be confident and sure of our prayer and not mock God (James 1:2-18).

A little aside about the long ending to the Lord’s Prayer is in order. The expanded ending to the Lord’s Prayer appears to be a later addition to the prayer.  It has its origins in the Old Testament book of 1 Chronicles 29:11-13.  This ending found its way into some copies of the Gospels in the 2nd Century AD.  It also appears in chapter 8 of The Didache.  To appear in the Didache and even some copies of the Gospels means that the expanded ending is of very old use.  When the prayer was translated into English, the scholars translating the King James Version used copies of the Greek that included those lines.  However, the Church at the time of Luther ended at the Seventh Petition, following the earlier Greek texts. Thus, in modern Protestant churches, especially English speaking churches, we use the expanded ending.  The expanded ending itself is fine and appropriate as it proclaims the power of God to do what we just prayed in the proceeding prayer and that He surely will.

1 O little flock, fear not the foe
Who madly seeks your overthrow;
Dread not his rage and pow’r.
And though your courage sometimes faints,
His seeming triumph o’er God’s saints
Lasts but a little hour.

2 Be of good cheer; your cause belongs
To Him who can avenge your wrongs;
Leave it to Him, our Lord.
Though hidden yet from mortal eyes,
His Gideon shall for you arise,
Uphold you and His Word.

3 As true as God’s own Word is true,
Not earth nor hell’s satanic crew
Against us shall prevail.
Their might? A joke, a mere facade!
God is with us and we with god–
Our vict’ry cannot fail.

4 Amen, Lord Jesus, grant our prayer;
Great Captain, now Thine arm make bare,
Fight for us once again!
So shall Thy saints and martyrs raise
A mighty chorus to Thy praise,
Forevermore. Amen.

(LSB 666)

About Dr. Paul Edmon

Dr. Paul Edmon is from Seattle, Washington and now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He has his B.S. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2004 and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota in 2010. He is professional staff at Harvard University and acts as liaison between Center for Astrophysics and Research Computing. A life long Lutheran, he is formerly a member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle and University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis. He now attends First Lutheran Church (FLC) of Boston where he teaches Lutheran Essentials. He sings bass in the FLC choir and Canto Armonico. He was elected to the Concordia Seminary St. Louis Board of Regents in 2016. He is single and among his manifold interests are scotch, football, anime, board games, mythology, history, philosophy, and general nerdiness. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent Harvard University or Concordia Seminary. Twitter: @pauledmon

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