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Our Highest Occasion for Praying

June 30, 2019
By Martin Luther

Have mercy on me, O God.

PSALM 51:1

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Our Highest Occasion for Praying

The contrite and fearful are the people of grace, whose wounds the good Shepherd wants to bind up and heal, the Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11). Such people should not give in to the thoughts of their hearts, which persuade them that because of their sins they ought not to pray or hope for grace. With David they should cry out, "Have mercy on me, O God," for such people are well pleasing to God. . .. Look at David here. With his mouth open he breaks out in the words "Have mercy on me, O God." Thus he combines things that by nature are dissimilar, God and himself the sinner, the Righteous and the unrighteous. That gigantic mountain of divine wrath that so separates God and David, he crosses by trust in mercy and joins himself to God. That is really what our theology adds to the Law. To call on God and to say, "Have mercy," is not a great deal of work. But to add the particle "on me"—this is really what the Gospel inculcates so earnestly, and yet we experience how hard it is for us to do it. This "on me" hinders almost all our prayers, when it ought to be the only reason and highest occasion for praying.

From Commentary on Psalm 51 (Luther's Works 12:317)

June 30

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