Small Catechism (7): Daily Prayers

Morning Prayer

In the morning, when you get up, bless yourself with the sign of the cross and say:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may add this little prayer:

I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and all evil, that all my actions and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Then go to your work joyfully, singing a hymn, such as the Ten Commandments, or whatever your devotion may suggest.

Evening Prayer

In the evening when you go to bed, bless yourself with the sign of the cross and say:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Then kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may also say this little prayer:

I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Then go to sleep promptly and cheerfully.

Asking a Blessing

The children and the members of the household go the table, fold their hands and reverently say:

The eyes of all look to You, O Lord, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing (Psalm 145:15-16).

Then shall be said the Lord’s Prayer and the following:

Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these Your gifts which we take from Your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Returning Thanks

In the same way, when the meal has ended, they fold their hands and reverently say:

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His love endures forever. He gives food to every creature. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love (Psalm 136:1, 25; 147:9-11).

Then shall be said the Lord’s Prayer and the following:

We thank You, Lord God, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, for all Your benefits, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

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Small Catechism (6): The Sacrament of the Altar

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.

Where is this written?
The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and St. Paul write: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper, he took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Take this and drink of it, all of you. This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?
This is shown by the words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” In the Sacrament, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given to us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
It is not the eating and drinking that do these things, but these words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” These words are, along with the bodily eating and drinking, the main thing in the Sacrament. Anyone who believes these words has what they say: that is, the forgiveness of sins.

Who receives this sacrament worthily?
Fasting and bodily preparation are a fine outward training. But the one who is truly worthy and well prepared is the one who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” But the one who does not believe these words, or who doubts them, is unworthy and unprepared, because the words “for you” require wholehearted belief.

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All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Small Catechism (5): Confession

How Christians should be taught to confess.

What is confession?
Confession has two parts: first, that we confess our sins; second, that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and that we in no way doubt, but firmly believe, that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

What sins should we confess?
Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those of which we are unaware, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer. But before the confessor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.

Which are these?
Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments. Are a father, mother, son, daughter, employer or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful or lazy? Have you grieved anyone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, neglected or wasted anything, or done other harm?

A Short Form of Confession

[Note: this is the form proposed by Luther in 1529. Other forms are generally used for individual confession today.]

The penitent says:
Reverend and dear confessor, I ask you to hear my confession and to pronounce forgiveness according to God’s will.

I, a poor sinner, confess myself before God guilty of all sins; especially I confess before you that I am a servant, a maid, etc. But, alas, I serve my master unfaithfully; for in this and in that I have not done what they commanded me; I have provoked them, and caused them to curse, have been negligent and have permitted damage to be done. I have also been immodest in words and deeds, have quarrelled with my equals, have grumbled and sworn at my mistress, etc. For all this I am sorry, and pray for grace; I want to do better.

A master or mistress may say this:
In particular I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children, servants and wife for God’s glory. I have cursed, and set a bad example by rude words and deeds. I have done my neighbour harm and spoken evil of him. I have overcharged, sold shoddy goods, and given short measure.

The penitent should add anything else he has done against God’s commandments and his own duties. 

If any one does not find himself burdened with these or greater sins, he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins. This would make confession a torture. Instead, he should mention one or two that he knows. For example: “In particular I confess that I have cursed, or that I have used improper words, or that I have neglected this or that, etc.” Let this suffice.

But if you know of no sins at all (which seems unlikely), then mention none in particular, but receive forgiveness upon your general confession which you make before God to the confessor.

Then the confessor shall say:
God be merciful to you and strengthen your faith. Amen.

Furthermore:
Do you believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness?

Answer: 
Yes, dear confessor.

Then let the confessor say:
Let it be done to you as you believe. And by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you your sins, in the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Depart in peace.

The confessor will other passages of Scripture to comfort and encourage those who have great burdens upon their consciences, or who are distressed and tempted. This is only a general form of confession for ordinary believers.

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This modernised version of Luther’s Small Catechism is based on the public domain text here, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please attribute it by linking back to this page

All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Small Catechism (4): The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

First

What is Baptism?
Baptism is not simply water, but it is the water included in God’s command and connected with God’s Word.

Which is that word of God?
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

Second

What benefits does Baptism give?
It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are these words and promises of God?
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Third

How can water do such great things?
It is not just the water that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts this word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simply water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit. As St Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying” (Titus 3:5-8).

Fourth

What does such baptizing with water signify?
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily come forth and arise, to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?
St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).

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This modernised version of Luther’s Small Catechism is based on the public domain text here, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please attribute it by linking back to this page

All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Small Catechism (3): The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Introduction

Our Father who art in heaven.

What does this mean?
Here God tenderly urges us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.

The First Petition

Hallowed be Thy name.

What does this mean?
God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may become holy among us also.

How is God’s name kept holy?
When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as the children of God lead holy lives in accordance with it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches and lives other than as taught in God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Preserve us from this, Heavenly Father!

The Second Petition

Thy kingdom come.

What does this mean?
The kingdom of God comes by itself even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.

How does God’s kingdom come?
When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life here in time and there in eternity.

The Third Petition

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this mean?
The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

How is God’s will done?
When God breaks and hinders every evil plan and intention which do not want to let us hallow the name of God or to let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh; and when He strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith until our end. This is His gracious and good will.

The Fourth Petition

Give us this day our daily bread.

What does this mean?
God gives daily bread to everyone, even those who are evil,  without our prayers; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know this, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What is meant by daily bread?

Everything that belongs to the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, property, fields, animals, money, goods, a believing spouse, believing children, believing servants, believing and faithful magistrates, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honour, good friends, faithful neighbours, and so on.

The Fifth Petition

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

What does this mean?

We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins, or deny our prayers on account of them; for we are not worthy of any of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them. Instead we pray that He would grant all our petitions by grace; for we sin greatly every day, and all we deserve is punishment. In the same way, for our part, we will sincerely forgive those who sin against us, and readily do good to them.

The Sixth Petition

And lead us not into temptation.

What does this mean?
God tempts no one. However, we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us, or seduce us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and that, though they may attack us, we may finally overcome them and gain the victory.

The Seventh Petition

But deliver us from evil.

What does this mean?
We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil of body and soul, property and honour; and that in the end, when our last hour comes, He would grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself into heaven.

The Conclusion

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.* Amen.

What does this mean?
That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven, and that he hears them; for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way, and has promised that He will hear us. So we say “Amen, Amen”; that is, “Yes, yes, it shall be so.”

* These words were not originally in Luther’s Small Catechism

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This modernised version of Luther’s Small Catechism is based on the public domain text here, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please attribute it by linking back to this page

All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Small Catechism (2): The Creed

The First Article: Creation

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and property, wife and children, fields, animals, and everything I own. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil. He does all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all of this I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

The Second Article: Redemption

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Plate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean?

I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

The Third Article: Sanctification

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In that Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the last day He will raise me and all the dead, and will give eternal life to me and to all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

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Small Catechism (1): The Ten Commandments

The First Commandment

You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean?
We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

The Third Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. [You shall sanctify the holy day.]

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.

The Fourth Commandment

Honour your father and your mother.

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents or those in authority over us, but honour, serve and obey them, and hold them in love and esteem.

The Fifth Commandment

You shall not murder.

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbour physically, but help and support him in every physical need.

The Sixth Commandment

You shall not commit adultery.

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in our words and actions, and each love and honour his spouse.

The Seventh Commandment

You shall not steal.

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not take our neighbour’s money or property, or get them by deception or dishonesty, but help him to improve and protect his property and income.

The Eighth Commandment

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not misrepresent, betray, slander, or defame our neighbour, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

The Ninth Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house.

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not seek to get our neighbour’s inheritance or house by deception or with merely the appearance of justice, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

The Tenth Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbour’s wife, servants or animals, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

The Close of the Commandments

What does God say about all of these commandments?
He says, “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6).

What does this mean?

God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore we should fear His wrath and not do anything contrary to these commandments. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore we should also love and trust in Him, and gladly follow His commandments.

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All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.