We have considered the Seven Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer in our journey through Luther’s Small Catechism. But before we move on to a reflection on the Sacraments, we have one more important part of the prayer to touch on. The Lord’s Prayer concludes with the “Doxology”.

The Doxology goes, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.” In his explanation Luther hones in on the word “Amen”. The explanation reads, “Amen means Yes, it shall be so. We say Amen because we are certain that such petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven and are heard by him. For he himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us.”

What a comfort it is to know that our heavenly Father wants us to be confident in our praying! It is a comfort because we might otherwise be full of doubt and despair, wondering if God listened to our prayers. That Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, taught and commanded us to pray surely means that God wants to hear our prayers!

And when we are full of doubt and lack confidence we can be thankful for the great gift of the Lord’s Prayer. Even when we can’t find the words to speak, our Lord provides us with the words! We can pray the Lord’s Prayer verbatim, as suggested in its rendering in Luke’s Gospel. It can also serve as a model prayer, as suggested in Matthew’s rendering.

Don’t be hoodwinked by those who belittle the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer! Recitation does not preclude the petitions coming from our hearts. Proof of this is how the singing of a familiar hymn can be heartfelt. It is our sinful nature, the world, and the devil that would like to steal away this great gift from us. Little wonder we conclude this prayer by lauding God’s name with praise, and then say Amen!

Since You Asked…

Why is incense used in some churches?

The use of incense is not unique to Christianity or Judaism and is used in many of the world’s religions to enhance special times and places by sight and smell. In Christian worship incense is effectively used at the beginning of the Service of the Word and in preparing for receiving Holy Communion. The burning of incense is associated with the prayers of worship rising before God (cf. Psa 141:2; Rev 8:4). Good worship should engage all the human senses. In this connection it should be pointed out that the olfactory sense is perhaps the most sensitive of the five senses; it continues to function even during sleep. (Indebted to Aidan Kavanah in his “Elements of Rite”.)