Monday, August 17, 2009

Johann Gerhard on Prayer

Today the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod commemorates Johann Gerhard. If you have never experienced the beauty and depth of the truly Evangelical piety of our dear Gerhard, you must check out Meditations of Divine Mercy, translated by Rev. Matthew Harrison.

Gerhard has some of the most moving and beautiful words I have ever read about prayer:

Pious prayer offered in faith is familiar conversation with God. It is the salutary remedy to all the difficulties of life. It is the key to heaven and the door to paradise. It shows us how much we depend on God. It is a shield for our defense and a faithful messenger of the ambassador. It is refreshment in the heat of misfortune; it is medicine during illness. It is a winch, drawing us to heaven, and a vessel that draws water from the font of divine kindness. It is a sword against the devil and a defense against misfortune. It is a wind that blows away evil and brings earthly benefits. It is a nurse that nurtures virtue and gives free access to God. It is a spiritual feast and a heavenly delicacy. It is a consolation for the dejected and a delight for the holy. It
grants knowledge of the secret things of God and acquires His gifts. It upholds
the world and rescues people. It is a joy for the heart and a jubilation for the
mind. It follows God's gift of grace, and it leads ahead into glory. It is a
garden of happiness and a tree full of delights. It calms the conscience and
increases thankfulness. It sends demons running and draws angels close. It is a
soothing remedy for the misfortunes of this life and the sweet smell of the
sacrifice of thanksgiving. It is a foretaste of the life to come and sweetens
the bitterness of death.

You can imagine the beauty, poetry, depth of piety and faithfulness of the
prayers the rest of this little gem of a prayer book contains!

From our Synod's Website:

Johann Gerhard (1582–1637) was a great Lutheran theologian in the tradition of Martin Luther (1483–1546) and Martin Chemnitz (1522–86) and the most influential of the 17th-century dogmaticians. His monumental Loci Theologici (23 large volumes) is still considered by many to be a definitive statement of Lutheran orthodoxy. Gerhard was born in Quedlinburg, Germany. At the age of 15 he was stricken with a life-threatening illness. This experience, along with guidance from his pastor, Johann Arndt, marked a turning point in his life. He devoted the rest of his life to theology. He became a professor at the University of Jena and served many years as the Superintendent of Heldberg. Gerhard was a man of deep evangelical piety and love for Jesus. He wrote numerous books on exegesis, theology, devotional literature, history, and polemics. His sermons continue to be widely published and read.

And from Issues, etc. :

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