Home > CPH Resources, iPhone/iTouch/iPad Apps > Lutheran Mythbusting: Lutherans Don’t Use the Historic Orders of Prayer Because That’s “High Church” and Against the Reformation!

Lutheran Mythbusting: Lutherans Don’t Use the Historic Orders of Prayer Because That’s “High Church” and Against the Reformation!

June 8th, 2010
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I was rather stunned today to read a review of our newly released iPhone app called “PrayNow” which is a version of the Treasury of Daily Prayer. The review actually was not a review about the app at all, but a scathing attack on the notion that Lutherans would ever consider actually using the historic prayer offices of Matins and Vespers and follow any sort of formal, regular life of prayer and meditation on God’s Word. The reviewer, rather oddly, had very nice things to say about yours truly and this blog, but then proceeded to vent his spleen. Sadly, this is probably not an atypical opinion among so-called “conservative” LCMS Lutherans and other such Americanized Lutherans. Well, read it for yourself and weep at the fact that this is the legacy that has developed in The LCMS over the past 75 years. We do not even recognize historic Lutheranism! Short response: “Sir, you are woefully and sad rather totally misinformed. Lutherans never threw out a regular, ordered life of prayer and continued to use Matins and Vespers and a planned reading of Scripture and all the historic prayers, canticles and such. We had a Reformation, sir, not a revolution. It was a conservative reformation of the Church, not a mutiny against the church catholic.” Here’s the “review” from the iTunes store, which I have to post here as a screen shot. Click through on it a couple of times to enlarge it to read it more easily. “Benny,” if you would care to reveal your true identity and defend your assertions, please do so.

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  1. Bethany Kilcrease
    June 8th, 2010 at 22:01 | #1

    Those who call themselves Lutheran today often times have very little idea as to the practice or beliefs of the Lutheran church. I had an adult student come into my office today to ask a question about the lecture on the Reformation. Earlier in class he had told me that he was a Lutheran. His question: What was that justification by faith thing?

  2. June 9th, 2010 at 09:40 | #2

    Thanks for shedding light on this example of how our society, including our church’s “society” has failed to teach – even shallowly – much of anything! It’s all down to kindly empty murmurings from one ditch and angry legalistic groans from the other ditch. Our people are not being equipped for discernment, and our language is reduced to 140 characters (yes, I know, I “Tweet”, too) of “social media guru” politicians, businesscritters and even religious leaders. Time for a new Reformation!
    Keep shining that light!

  3. Timothy
    June 9th, 2010 at 10:05 | #3

    A good friend of mine is a life-long member of the LCMS; he was raised in Lutheran churches in the Midwest, and that’s what he considers authentic Lutheranism. I once brought up that the early Lutherans, along with many today, still use incense. Due to his raising, he attributed a practice like that to the early Lutherans being “too close to Catholicism.” One word: Adiaophra.

    I love liturgical Lutheranism. It’s not a “school” like High Church or Low Church Anglicanism. It’s essentially Lutheran. May we always keep the Mass!

  4. June 9th, 2010 at 10:28 | #4

    Wow! I would like to know in what world it is “high church” to have morning and evening and bed-time prayers! Matins, vespers, and compline have provided the framework for my prayer-life for all of my adult years. I do not do it because I “have to”. I certainly do not do it to earn my salvation. I pray this way because I am a human being comprised of both body and soul and I am benefited in both by an orderly, disciplined worship life–both public and private. The prayer offices, prayed privately, are not in the least restrictive to genuine, heartfelt prayer but set me free to hear God’s Word from outside myself.

  5. Ellie
    June 9th, 2010 at 11:54 | #5

    Sounds to me like “benny” will make a great Baptist one day. :(

  6. June 9th, 2010 at 12:08 | #6

    I was one who once wouldn’t have recognized Matins and Vespers as Lutheran. There are too many Lutherans out there that think being Lutheran means JUST holding a Lutheran view of the Sacraments. I think that is incredibly important, but wish they knew more about how incredibly important our theology and practice of Worship is.

  7. June 9th, 2010 at 12:49 | #7

    I do not understand how anyone who has read the introductory material in the TDP can confuse the monastic prayer hours which were offered as meritorious works and demanded rigid observance, with the practices promoted in TDP, which encourage each reader or family to do what works best for them, out of Christian freedom.

    Perhaps Benny should page through his TLH and notice the Vespers and Matins services. Compline is no less Lutheran than Matins and Vespers. Besides this, the TDP offers, as alternatives the Morning and Evening Prayer services, which have no connection to the liturgical hours. It even suggests that individuals and families might even just simply read the readings.

    I suppose one might get the mistaken impression that Vespers and Matins are supposed to be done “in church”, not in the home. Yes, of course. It certainly must be entirely un-Lutheran to observe a liturgical practice in the home. Why, the next thing you know, we will have family altars! Fathers will be leading their children through the Morning and Evening Suffrages.

    I suggest Benny get his TLH, turn to page 115, and read the sub-heading under the Morning Suffrages and the Evening Suffrages: “(To be said at Matins or in the Morning Prayer of the Household.)” and: “(To be used at Vespers or at the Evening Prayer of the Household.)”

  8. June 9th, 2010 at 14:46 | #8

    The more I think about this the more troubled I am. I would like to think that this an isolated case of a poorly-informed, poorly catechized Lutheran who has spent too much time dumpster-diving in Evangelicalism, but I suspect that’s not the case. I am unsure if Benny is just unaware of the practices of historic Lutheranism so he has made this comment out of sheer ignorance, or if he rejects historic Lutheran practice of prayer and worship as unauthentic expressions of the Reformation. I’m not sure which is worse.

    I do find it strange that he mentions “A Simple Way to Pray” as I recall Luther making some “high churchy” sounding suggestions for enlivening one’s prayer life.

  9. Randy Keyes
    June 9th, 2010 at 14:51 | #9

    I am saddened by another Lutheran thinking this. Of the five of us who graduated from the Bible, Religion and Ministries department of the conservative Baptist college from where I received my undergrad, two of us are now Lutheran, and one became Lutheran while still in school. I remember being in the dining hall when he said to me, “Time for vespers.” To which I replied, “Isn’t that where you read someone else’s prayers out of a book?” Everyone there laughed. Only later did it occur to me that saying the Psalms is doing just that: Praying or singing “someone else’s prayers out of a book” while at the same time, you make them your own.

    I still have several connections in the Zwinglian-Reformed church, and they, themselves, are in a period of rediscovering “praying scripture” which is exactly what the matins and vespers are.

    I now love those services and have been slowly working to have them re-instituted in the local parish where I currently reside.

    We Lutherans *are* the Biblical embodiment of what many call the “ancient-future” movement, but many of us still don’t realize it. We need to embrace it.

    Two cents from a guy who used to be “on the other side” of this one.


  10. John K
    June 9th, 2010 at 14:55 | #10

    How is Benny’s attitude so surprising in this time of Lutheran congregations of all sorts abandoning historic liturgies that are the Word, for that which is so fun, feels so good and is not boring?

    Folks are simply saying what they have been taught.


  11. June 9th, 2010 at 16:31 | #11

    This is a sad review, but it doesn’t surprise me in the least. I have encountered this sentiment regularly out on the east coast. Before making it to the seminary, the daily offices were altogether foreign to me as well, but I quickly grew to appreciate their structure and constant quoting of Scripture.

  12. J Maxfield
    June 10th, 2010 at 09:38 | #12

    I would be interested in learning of documentation for early Lutheran prescriptions for using incense in the church orders.

    • June 10th, 2010 at 10:36 | #13

      Your “answer man” on all such questions is weedon@me.com Pastor William Weedon. If anyone would know the answer to this, Pr. Weedon is your man.

  13. Rev. Jeffery Grams
    June 10th, 2010 at 10:33 | #14

    For those of us who prefer to avoid anything made by Apple, will there be other platforms available?

    • June 10th, 2010 at 10:37 | #15

      The Treasury of Daily Prayer itself is avaialable in Kindle format, which can be used on all Mac and PC desktop, laptop and netbook/notebook computers, as well as on Blackberry smartphones, and coming soon, the Kindle Android app.

  14. Jim Nash
    June 11th, 2010 at 08:25 | #16

    Will this app be made available soon formatted for the larger screen of the iPad?

    I know you can blow up the iPhone format to iPad size but the letters usually don’t get any clearer when this happens.

    • June 14th, 2010 at 14:26 | #17

      I own and use an iPad and the Treasury actually looks very good on the iPad, at either 1x or 2x.

  15. Kandyce
    June 11th, 2010 at 09:48 | #18

    We have a Nook. I don’t believe that Kindle formatted documents can be used on a Nook. If they can, please correct me. I really would like TDP for our Nook.

  16. Timothy
    June 11th, 2010 at 10:41 | #19

    @J Maxfield
    Not sure if this is a loaded question, but I’m not a liturgical expert, so I wouldn’t know. Let me redirect you to that beautiful word, adiaophra, which allows us to do anything God-honoring but not commanded, in Christian worship. Also, the concept of “keeping the Mass” (Augsburg Confession and its Apology) allows us to retain the good traditions of the Church catholic. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong about early Lutherans using incense (Pr. McCain?).

  17. C. J. Evanson
    June 11th, 2010 at 13:09 | #20

    Paul -

    In our studies on the history of Lutheranism in the Russian Empire, the Baltic States, and Prussia, Dr. Darius Petkunas have studied all the major Lutheran agendas from those of Luther, Ernestine and Albertine Saxony, the Livonian Confederation, Courland, Denmark & Norway, Sweden & Finland, Estonia, St Petersburg, and what little is available from Vilnius and Kaunas in Lithuania. In addition to the weekly celebration of the Sacrament of our Lord’s Body and Blood, they almost without exception provide for Matins and Vespers not only on Sunday but also during the week. In many places Cantionals and other books provided music for these Services (antiphons, responsories, psalms, and hymns). In fact, in some places provision is made for the praying of all the canonical hours of prayer — all of it rich in the use of the Sacred Scriptures in an orderly manner. It was not until Pietism made inroads that the reading of Scripture and ordered prayer were pitted against each other, preparing the way for Rationalism to do its deadly work. The 19th century fathers who sought to return the Lutheran Church to its confessional roots also reintroduced ordered, liturgical worship, including the daily offices. Oh, by the way, even the Reformed in some regions used incense until the 19th century!

  18. Pr David Buck
    June 14th, 2010 at 08:41 | #21

    In 1999 Deutsche Grammophon produced Christmas Vespers “as it might have been celebrated at the [Lutheran] Court of Dresden c. 1664″ (Archiv 463 046-2), with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort and Players. The settings by Heinrich Schuetz of Psalm 2 and the Magnificat, are stunning. The CD is worth buying just for the wealth of material in the introductory essay, by Robin Leaver and Paul McCreesh.

  19. Pastor Steven Schlund
    June 17th, 2010 at 13:02 | #22

    @Pr David Buck
    Pr Buck,

    Where might this CD on Christmas Vespers by Deutsche Grammophon be purchased?

  20. David Buck
    June 17th, 2010 at 22:15 | #23

    Pr Schlund,
    You can buy it on-line at this address: http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/cat/single?PRODUCT_NR=4630462, or give the details in my earlier post to any good CD shop so it can be ordered for you.

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