THE SEVENTH AND LAST PETITION.
But deliver us from evil. Amen.
This article reads thus in the Greek:
, deliver or preserve us from evil or the wicked one; and it appears even as if he wished to comprehend all in one mass, so that the whole some of all our prayers may be directed against our chief enemy. For he it is who impedes among us all that we pray for– the name or honor of God, the kingdom and will of God, daily bread, peaceful and joyful conscience, &c.
We shall, therefore, in conclusion, bring these things all together, and say: "Grant, beloved Father, that we may be liberated from all misfortunes." Yet in the evil which may befall us, under the kingdom of the devil are included– poverty, shame, death, and in a word, all the distressing calamities and afflictions which are so innumerable on earth. For the devil, since he is not only a liar, but also a murderer, seeks continually after our lives, and wreaks his anger to bring us into misfortunes and injuries. Hence it is, that he causes many a one to break his neck, and deprives many of the use of their minds, others he causes to drown themselves, and many he forces to commit suicide, and to do many other terrible crimes. Therefore, while we remain on earth, it requires all that we can do to pray continually against this chief enemy. For if God would not preserve us, we would not be secure a single hour in consequence of this foe.
Hence you perceive again how God desires us to entreat him for all things, even in reference to those which injure our bodies, so that we may neither seek nor await assistance from any other source but from him. This however he has laid down in the last place; for if we shall be preserved and delivered from all evil, the name of God must first be hallowed in us, his kingdom be among us, and his will be done, then he will finally guard us against sin and shame; moreover, from all that is grievous or pernicious to us.
Thus God has briefly enumerated all the necessities by which we may be pressed, so that we indeed can have no excuse for neglecting prayer. But upon this the efficacy of prayer depends, that we also learn to say, in addition, Amen; that is, not to doubt that it is assuredly heard, and will be granted. For it is nothing else but a word of indubitable faith, praying not with uncertainty, but knowing that God does not deny it, since he has promised to grant it. Wherever such faith does not exist, there it is also impossible for a true prayer to be. It is therefore a pernicious conceit in those, who so pray that they dare not add the word Amen to the end of their prayer and conclude with certainty that God hears it, but remain in doubt, and say: "How should I feel so daring, and presume that God hears my prayer? Am I not still a miserable sinner?" &c.
They act in this way, because they do not regard the promises of God, but look upon their own works and worthiness, contemning God, and charging him with falsehood; for this reason they also receive nothing, as St. James 1, 6, 7, says: "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering: for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind, and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." Behold! how much God is concerned about these things in order that we should be certain that we do not pray in vain; we should therefore by no means lightly esteem our prayer.