Compelling Distress

“But where there is to be a true prayer, there must be seriousness. People must feel their distress, and such distress presses them and compels them to call and cry out. Then prayer will be made willingly, as it ought to be. People will need no teaching about how to prepare for it and to reach the proper devotion. But the distress that ought to concern most (both for ourselves and everyone), you will find abundantly set forth in the Lord’s Prayer. Therefore, this prayer also serves as a reminder, so that we meditate on it and lay it to heart and do not fail to pray. For we all have enough things that we lack. The great problem is that we do not feel or recognize this. Therefore, God also requires that you weep and ask for such needs and wants, not because He does not know about them [Matthew 6:8], but so that you may kindle your heart to stronger and greater desires and make wide and open your cloak to receive much [Psalm 10:17].” Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, III: 26-27.*

* Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (ed. Paul Timothy McCain; St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 411.