November 30, 2020

A Prayer of Martin Luther

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it.

I am weak in the faith; strengthen me.

I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor.

I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in you.

In you I have sealed the treasure of all I have.

I am poor; you are rich and came to be merciful to the poor.

I am a sinner; you are upright.

With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness of righteousness.

Therefore I will will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give.



  1. …must be something wrong with this prayer- it doesn’t say ‘I have the victory’ 🙂

    Thanks for keeping this site going and prayers for IM.

  2. A prayer of Luther’s I can agree with!

    [There are many I always do agree with, some I cannot. I.e ‘Infant Baptism’]

    • Matthew, you must see that this prayer goes, like totally, with infant baptism.

      I think of Michael often. Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s, but I pray he may have many more years of fruitful labor.

      • Like totally? 😉

        Where, when how and why……?

        • Well Matthew, I’m thinking here that anyone who prays this prayer honestly would be led to see that babies are no less empty vessels that need to be filled by God. If salvation is a matter of God coming to us, God giving to us, then it seems that this would also hold true of little children to whom the kingdom of God belongs.

  3. Amen.

  4. David Cornwell says

    We’ve probably all prayed one or more petition of this prayer many times, and not so long ago.

  5. — Therefore I will will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give.
    O how true that is. May that ring true to me always.

    Thanks, Michael.

  6. Thank you. Bad, sad day, so just….thank you. That’s the best comfort.

  7. Yes, Amen and Thank you.

  8. “Therefore I will will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give”

    This is the line that speaks to me the most today—sometimes I feel like I have something to give and feel I shouldn’t come begging to God all the time. But in reality, He’s the source of everything and I have nothing to give that doesn’t come from Him in the first place.

    • I remember one time hearing C. J. Mohaney preaching at a conference, and saying that the only contribition we make to out own salvation is: our sin. (In that it gives God something to forgive.) It’s a humbling thought.

      • CJ Mahaney is a great preacher. A biblical man. check out

      • Not an accurate one mind you, but a humbling one.

        Our faith has a very important role to play too.

        • Yeah I would not necessarily agree with him on everything – but on alot of things.

          I would hope to never find anyone I deem “accurate” in everything theological – man is falliable.

          What areas do you, personally, find CJ inaccurate?

        • Eclectic Christian,
          Sure our faith does have an important role. But when it comes right down to it, that too is a gift of God. So I’m not sure that we contribute that either. It too is the work of the Holy Spirit. At least that is how I read Ephesians 2.

          • I would interpret Ephesians 2 differently. Salvation is the gift. Grace is how it is given, faith is how it is received.

            Galations 2 makes in clear that it is our faith in Christ that completes the circle of relationship.

            Galations 2:16 – Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

            This lines up well with Hebrews 11.

            One of the reasons why I am not a Calvinist or Lutheran.

            But I don’t think we will solve that historical debate here.

          • I honestly don’t know how you can read it that way. It is just painfully redundant. Than and it does not jive well with Rom 10, that faith come from hearing…
            But you are probably right we probably wont solve it here. There is no debate on my part that after faith is given it is ours. It just wasn’t there before the Holy Spirit went to work on us.

          • Hi Bror,

            I don’t quite understand why you think that my understanding of faith is inconsistent with Romans 10. Sure Faith comes by hearing. You can’t have faith in something you know nothing about.

            But to close the circle a bit, I would like to agree with you in affirming the work of the Holy Spirit in prompting human hearts. I still don’t have a clear enough of an understanding of how this works to take a strong Arminian or Calvinist position on it.

          • Eclectic Christian,
            I would steer you away from either position. I mean as a Lutheran it annoys me that you don’t understand there is a third position, a much better position, the one that actually kicked off the reformation.

  9. Nice. Was it orginally in Latin or German?

  10. Amen and Amen. Beautiful honesty, humility and faithfulness and depth all wrapped up together. May we see and hear more prayers like this in the church today.

  11. This ‘prayer’ reminds me of Colossians 2:23 “These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” I grow weary of the idiotic magnification of sin.

  12. I like the prayer.

    The very last phrase makes me wonder whether Luther meant it about salvation or about the entire Christian life. The phrase “. . . to whom I may not give,” made me wonder about Scriptures such as Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

    After our salvation, we can indeed give to God: ourselves, our praise, etc., etc. as our response to His request that we do so make those offerings to Him. Thus, I suspect that Luther was talking about our salvation.

    • I cannot believe I am going to say something nice about Martin Luther but here goes 🙂

      That last part (“Therefore I will will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give”) may be getting at something the same as what Pope Benedict is discussing in his message for Lent of this year:

      “Thanks to Christ’s action, we may enter into the “greatest” justice, which is that of love (cf. Rm 13, 8-10), the justice that recognises itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected.”

      I can’t believe I just connected the Pope and Martin Luther. Okay, they’re both German theologians, but…


      • Also, Martha, I believe Benedict has told people they should read some Luther, which really might solve a lot of problems.

        • Yeah, I vaguely remember him talking about that with respect to Sola Fide. I.e. Luther’s take on it isn’t so different from Catholic teaching as we’ve all been led to believe and that a reading of Luther’s writings would show that. I’m neither a Luther scholar nor a Catholic scholar, so I don’t know specifically what Pope Benedict was referring to, but I do remember reading about him saying something like that.

      • Christopher Lake says


        In one of his “general audience” teachings from November of last year, Pope Benedict had something very nice indeed to say about Martin Luther. Check it out here:

        It’s amazing. Six months ago, I was a convinced Reformed Baptist. Now, after having read homilies such as this one from the Pope (and after having done *much* other study, including a re-examination of Paul’s teaching in Romans and Galatians– “justified by faith apart works from the Law” doesn’t necessarily mean apart from *all* good works!), I am seriously questioning whether the Reformation was truly needed. Yes, there were undoubtedly problems and abuses in the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, but I don’t know that an actual schism was needed. More and more, I don’t see myself being a Protestant much longer, even as I know that many of my Reformed friends will likely pronounce me unregenerate….

        • Thanks for that link, Christopher. It was interesting to read that article. I am reading the Pope’s book Jesus of Nazareth and he is a very accessible writer to an “average” person like me. He wanted to focus on the mission of Jesus so his book goes from Jesus’ Baptism to the Transfiguration. He wanted to make sure that his understanding of Jesus was written up in a way to refute some modern-day versions of Jesus that have him being just a liberal rabbi, a very moral person, etc. He also says in the introduction that the book does not come from the “magisterium,” but is his personal search and understanding of Jesus. He says anyone is free to disagree with him! The book doesn’t even have the “impramatur” seal on it. (But hey, he’s the Pope. I think we KNOW he isn’t going to say anything against the Catholic teachings!)

          Pope Benedict XVI says in the introduction that he is getting old and wanted to make sure this part was published. If he is still alive, he will then publish a book about the birth of Jesus and about the cross and resurrection. I hope he lives for a few more years!

          I think the Pope would find Luther to be a very sincere man, one who was dismayed at the corruptions going on at the time within the Church. The Church did need to get cleaned up. I also think some non-Catholics sometimes forget how close Luther was to the basic teachings of the Catholic Church. In terms of the basics, he never left those teachings.

    • “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”
      After our salvation, we can indeed give to God: ourselves, our praise, etc., etc. as our response to His request that we do so make those offerings to Him.

      I was thinking about that verse a few days ago, specifically how Christ’s sacrifice enables us to become living sacrifices. There’s something very neat there. The way I look at it, our gifts to God are similar to when my little niece or nephew colors me a picture. It’s not something I particularly need, but I put it on my refrigerator anyway because it’s a sign of their love for me and mine for them. Similarly, our gifts to Him aren’t something that He needs, but he rejoices in them just as much as we do to give them to Him.

      • How about we take this together with 1. Cor. 6:19, 20:

        In my NIV:
        Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

        or what I copied from another version:
        For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify god in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

        It’s the having been purchased at a very dear price, that makes you already not your own. Which really is all grace. You do not belong to yourself as to have something to give to God. On our own we certainly can’t give anything to God, nor would it be acceptable. But having been purchased, even the most mundane things such as things we do with the body are acceptable and pleasing. (Not just the “spiritual” is good or redeemed. Even your sexual life is redeemed. So watch out and don’t spoil it. etc., etc. It belongs to God.)

  13. rey: what does ‘the idiotic magnfication of sin’ mean? thank you,

  14. I think we need to remember that we are justified by God’s grace through faith. It is not our faith that justifies us, or else faith would become a saving work, and the Christian life would be reduced to merely nodding ones head in agreement to particular doctrines.