On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.
The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.
Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.
The devotional for LORD’S DAY 45 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses The Lord’s Prayer.
Q. Why do Christians need to pray?
A. Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us.1 And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking God for them.2
1 Ps. 50:14-15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess. 5:16-18.
2 Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13.
Q. What is the kind of prayer that pleases God and that he listens to?
A. First, we must pray from the heart to no other than the one true God, revealed to us in his Word, asking for everything God has commanded us to ask for.1 Second, we must fully recognize our need and misery, so that we humble ourselves in God’s majestic presence.2 Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation: even though we do not deserve it, God will surely listen to our prayer because of Christ our Lord. That is what God promised us in his Word.3
1 Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15.
2 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4.
3 Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6.
Q. What did God command us to pray for?
A. Everything we need, spiritually and physically,1 as embraced in the prayer
Christ our Lord himself taught us.
1 James 1:17; Matt. 6:33.
Q. What is this prayer?
A. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.* For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen.1**
1 Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4.
*This text of the Lord’s Prayer is from the New Revised Standard Version in keeping with the use of the NRSV throughout this edition of the catechism. Most biblical scholars will agree that it is an accurate translation of the Greek text and carries virtually the same meaning as the more traditional text of the Lord’s Prayer
**Earlier and better manuscripts of Matthew 6 omit the words “For the kingdom and … Amen.”
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!