I Would Like to Be a Good Pray-er
I’ve read the Longer Preface to the Large Catechism many times, but never in quite the same way I did today. I had read Luther’s admonition to those who neglect the catechism because they imagine they are giving their mind to “higher” matters or who are just too lazy to put forth the time and effort to learn and teach such things. I have thought, “You give it to those guys, Dr. Luther.” Like the Pharisee, I’ve proudly said to myself, “I’m glad I’m not like them. I teach the catechism. I work hard. I put in a lot of hours in preparation.”
But then I noticed something else Luther writes:
9Therefore, for God’s sake I beg such lazy bellies or arrogant saints to be persuaded and believe that they are truly, truly not so learned or such great doctors as they imagine! They should never assume that they have finished learning the parts of the catechism or know it well enough in all points, even though they think that they know it ever so well. For even if they know and understand the catechism perfectly (which, however, is impossible in this life), there are still many benefits and fruits to be gained, if it is daily read and practiced in thought and speech. For example, the Holy Spirit is present in such reading, repetition, and meditation. He bestows ever new and more light and devoutness. In this way the catechism is daily loved and appreciated better, as Christ promises in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.”
10 Besides, catechism study is a most effective help against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts. It helps to be occupied with God’s Word, to speak it, and meditate on it, just as the first Psalm declares people blessed who meditate on God’s Law day and night (Psalm 1:2). Certainly you will not release a stronger incense or other repellant against the devil than to be engaged by God’s commandments and words, and speak, sing, or think them [Colossians 3:16]. For this is indeed the true “holy water” and “holy sign” from which the devil runs and by which he may be driven away [James 4:7].
Those two paragraphs convicted me! That is where I have failed most often in the Office of the Holy Ministry. I have failed to pray as I ought. I have failed to draw from the one source of power that overcomes the devil’s schemes and instead relied upon my own limited skills, talents, and hard work for success. I repent and ask the Lord’s forgiveness. I ask the forgiveness of those I have failed to serve as I ought. As the Twelve asked Jesus, I pray that He would teach me to pray. More than anything else I would like be good at praying. I want to be a good pray-er.
Lord, remember me in Your kingdom and teach me to pray!
 Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 353