In the closing months of WWII, Helmut Thielicke preached on the Lord’s Prayer. He spoke words that ring true for us today:
“In these fearful, fateful weeks many people appear to have become alienated from their faith in God: They begin to ask how He can ‘permit’ such things to happen. It would be better, however, if they were alienated from their faith in men. It would be better if they were disabused of their fanciful faith in progress and stopped talking so emotionally and sentimentally about the nobility of man.”
— Helmut Thielicke, Our Heavenly Father, (New York, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960), 58, quoted in “A Word in Season: Preaching the Lord’s Prayer” Word & World, (22:1, Winter 2002), 89.
Karl Barth: “To fold one’s hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
— Quoted in Jan Milic Lochman, “The Lord’s Prayer for Our Time: Praying and Drumming,” in The Lord’s Prayer: Perspectives for Reclaiming Christian Prayer, ed. Daniel L. Migliore (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1993), 18-19.
For as the early Christian father and martyr Cyprian suggests: the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are “seven reminders of our wretchedness and poverty without Christ by means of which we are led to a knowledge of self and can see what a miserable and perilous life we lead here on earth. Such a life is nothing but blasphemy of God’s name, disobedience to his will, rejection of his kingdom, a hungry land without bread, an existence full of sin, a precarious sojourn, and an abounding in every evil.”
— Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 42 : Devotional Writings I, J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, eds. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1969), 42:23. Cyprian, a pagan rhetorician, was converted to Christianity in 246. As bishop of Carthage he suffered a martyr’s death in 258. The writing of Cyprian which Luther has in mind is probably On the Lord’s Prayer.