The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Hello. This is an unashamed plug for Lutheran Radio UK. This is the ELCE’s internet radio at 

Occasionally here I quote a paragraph or two of something I’ve read along the lines of “I wish I had written that” and yesterday I finished listening to the second part of a two part discussion on Luther’s Prayer Book on ‘The Lutheran Inquisitor’ – and I was thinking, “I wish everyone had heard that”. (Go to the podcasts of the programme and you will find these two latest episodes plus almost 300 episodes on a wide range of topics (at around 30 minutes each).)

The Lutheran Inquisitor – Pastor Jon Ehlers – was interviewing Rev. Dr Robert Kolb who is one of the pre-eminent Luther and Reformation scholars in the world about Luther’s Prayer Book and the starting point was that it is not what one expects. It isn’t a book of prayers per se but more a manual about living and understanding our relationship with Jesus and how that shapes our living – and in this case our praying. Because Luther had shifted his orientation, his foundation to what God had done in Jesus Christ – and does through his Word, Baptism, and Holy Communion – he felt strongly that the prayer books needed to reflect this perspective and that the medieval prayer books needed a thorough reformation – and he wrote this ‘personal prayer book’ in 1522 as a beginning for the larger work needed to help Christians live evangelically. It was so popular that it went through 9 editions in 1522 alone and there were many editions printed in the subsequent years. If you’ve never read it, you would still be familiar with it because you would find in it a lot of what we have found in the Small and Large Catechisms (written in the late 1520s). Luther’s Prayer Book wasn’t about praying someone else’s prayers but about thinking, reflecting, praying, and doing (living) as Jesus directed us. Luther didn’t just wanted people to pray, he wanted them to know what they were doing theologically and how to relate to Jesus confidently. That’s how life should be lived – not in fear but in faith, hope, and love.

Christian theology is about truth and context. What I liked about the two episodes on ‘Luther’s Prayer Book’ was both. The Gospel doesn’t change but we can muddle it and almost hide it under all sorts of things and Dr Kolb presented the Luther of 1522 in his context working out how the Gospel impacted people of his day. Luther, too, is on a journey; he isn’t perfect; he creates situations and he responds to situations but God is faithful and I think the content of the two episodes are worth hearing if you’re interested in the early Reformation and what was happening in the 1520s but also, I think, there is encouragement there to look at our context of 2022 and the 2020s and consider how the Gospel impacts us and society today.

If you do listen to LRUK and these episodes, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts of then – and of now. 

And yes, Lutheran Radio UK has many other programmes and music and worship! 😊