HOW DO YOU PRAY?
Psalm 65:1-2 Praise befits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come.
Martin Luther had a barber named Peter who asked Luther “How do you pray?” Martin Luther answered with a not so unusual forty page letter. It was published in 1535 under the title A Simple Way to Pray, for a Good Friend. Listen to this opening paragraph:
Dear Master Peter,
I give you the best I have. I tell you how I pray myself. May our Lord God grant you and everyone to do it better.
A good clever barber must have his thoughts, mind and eyes concentrated upon the razor and the beard and not forget where he is in his stroke and shave. If he keeps talking or looking around or thinking of something else, he is likely to cut a man’s mouth or nose – or even his throat. So anything that is to be done well ought to occupy the whole man with all his faculties and members. As the saying goes: he who thinks of many things, thinks of nothing and accomplishes no good. How much more must prayer possess the heart exclusively and completely if it is to be a good prayer!
This is Luther talking to his barber! This is counseling. Luther puts his counselee up and himself down. Humbly he stands under him and therefore “under-stands” him. He places himself in Peter’s world, and this enables him to pick up Master Peter where he is.
Martin Luther’s Quiet Time, By Walter Trobisch, pgs.3-4.