Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
Where is your copy of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism right now?
Is it tucked away in a box, along with some other childhood memories? Is it collecting dust as it sits on a shelf next to a Bible and hymnal? Or was it lost years ago?
Sadly, that is how far too many treat their Catechism: as a text book, that was used for a couple of years in midweek and confirmation classes, which has never been opened up again.
What if I told you however, that the Catechism is not a text book, but that it is a prayer book? And instead of casting it aside at the conclusion of 8th grade, you should instead use it daily for prayer and meditation?
Starting at the end of this month, we will have 4 consecutive midweek services, one for Thanksgiving and 3 for Advent; and for those services, we will use Service of Prayer & Preaching in LSB. One of the distinguishing features of this service is that we will recite together the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. But we will not do so because there is a test; we will do so in prayer and confession.
That these three parts are included in the service is no accident. Throughout her history, the Church has continuously stated that these are the very basic elements of the Christian faith; Martin Luther said that one could not be a true Christian if they did not know the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.
But there is no need to wait until the end of the month and midweek services to pray these three parts of the Catechism. I assume everyone prays the Lord’s Prayer at least once a day, and hopefully many of you also confess the Apostle’s Creed; and so I challenge you to add the Ten Commandments to your time of daily devotions. Do not worry if you do not have it all memorized; do not worry if you do not know the meanings; right now just say the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.
Now of course, you can add the meanings as you go along; and if you read through them every day for a couple of weeks, you will be amazed at how it will become familiar, how it will become natural, how it will all start to form in your mind and become a part of your daily life.
For when you pray the Catechism, it will become a part of your daily language, it will influence your prayers, it will mold you as God’s child in a way they never have before.
And I can promise you that it will not be as painful this time as it was in junior high. Why? Because this time you are not memorizing to pass a quiz, or to get through questioning; this time you are praying them, in the confines of your own daily life. You are going to the Lord in prayer in the words and patterns that He has given to you for this very purpose.
For when you pray the Ten Commandments, you are making the confession that you are sinful in thought, word and deed. When you pray the Apostle’s Creed, you are confessing how God has saved you. And when you pray the Lord’s Prayer, you are confessing how God comes to you today and makes you holy.
There are of course other parts of the Catechism: Baptism, Lord’s Supper and Confession; and there are patterns for praying those as well. But for now, pray the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Starting this month, and perhaps even before, I will start using a devotion in congregation settings (youth, Bible study, ladies group) that prays the primary texts of the Catechism; and it will show you how quickly and easily the Catechism can be prayed in daily devotions.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt