Martin Luther’s Petitions in Light of the Sixth Commandment

“You shall not murder.” That’s the sixth of the Ten Commandments. No one questions the literal meaning.

Apart from certain exceptions–as in the state’s legitimate authority to punish evil (Rom. 13:1-7)–it is unlawful to take human life made in the image of God (Gen. 9:5-6).

Jesus drilled down even further with this commandment. He expounded on it at a heart level in Matt. 5:21-26. Unjust anger constitutes a violation of the sixth commandment as well. And who doesn’t struggle with that?

The Bible prescribes praying for dealing with our anger. Consider 1 Tim. 2:8. I desire then in every place that men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or quarreling. It’s awfully tough to pray when you’re jacked up with rage over someone or something they said or did.

Martin Luther prescribed a specific way to pray about anger in light of the sixth commandment. It involves both confession and petition.

I confess and lament both my wickedness and that of the world, that we are horribly unthankful for His fatherly love and concern for us that we do not acknowledge and will not learn such a commandment. What a wretched scandal! Instead, we despise it as though it does not apply to us, or as though we have nothing to do with it.We go on our way quite secure and do not give it a second thought that when we despise our neighbor, we are acting contrary to this commandment. Instead we forsake our neighbor, persecute him, violate him. We even murder him in our hearts and act out with wrath, rage, and all evil, as though we are perfectly upright in doing so. To be sure, it is time for all of us to weep and wail that we are such evil scoundrels and blind, out of control, ungracious people. We are like ferocious beasts walking all over one another, pushing, scratching, tearing, biting, and devouring one another, and we do not fear God’s earnest command, etc.

I pray that our dear Father would instruct us to recognize His holy commandment, and help us to hold to it and live accordingly. I pray that He would guard us all from the murderer, who is the Master of all murder and harm, and give His rich grace, so that we will all be kind, gentle, and generous toward one another; heartily forgiving one another, and bearing one another’s mistakes and failings in a Christian and brotherly fashion. This is how we are to live together in genuine peace and unity; as this commandment teaches and demands of us.

Few things disrupt the peace of a church like unchecked anger among its people.

Do you struggle with this?

Add prayers like these to the fight and watch how God works!