A Simple Way to Pray # 7
The Seventh Commandment: You Shall Not Steal
The Seventh Commandment: "You shall not steal." First, I can learn here that I must not take my neighbor's property from him or possess it against his will, either in secret or openly. I must not be false or dishonest in business, service, or work, not profit by fraud, but must support myself by the sweat of my brow. Furthermore, I must see to it that in any of the above named ways my neighbor is not defrauded, just as I wish for myself. I also learn in this commandment that God, in his fatherly solicitude, sets a protective hedge around my goods and solemnly prohibits anyone to steal from me. Where that is ignored, he has imposed a penalty and has placed the gallows and the rope in the hands of Jack the hangman. Where that cannot be done, God himself metes out punishment and they become beggars in the end, as the proverb says, "Who steals in his youth, goes begging in old age," or, "Stolen gain goes down the drain."
In addition I give thanks for His steadfast goodness in that He has given such excellent teachings, assurance, and protection to me and to all the world. If it were for his protection, not a penny or a crumb of bread would be left in the house.
Third, I confess my sins and ingratitude in such instances where I have wronged, deprived, or cheated anyone in my life.
Fourth, I ask that He grant to me and all the world grace to learn from this commandment, to ponder it, and to become better people, so that there may be less theft, robbery, usury, cheating, and injustice and that the Judgment Day, for which all saints and the whole creation pray, Romans 8:20-23), shall soon bring this to an end. Amen
The Eighth Commandment: You Shall Not Bear False Witness
The Eighth Commandment: "You shall not bear false witness." This teaches us, first of all, to be truthful to each other, to shun lies and calumnies, to be glad to speak well of each other, and to delight in hearing what is good about others. Thus a wall has been built around our good reputation and integrity to protect it against malicious gossip and deceitful tongues; God will not let that go unpunished,as He has said in the other commandments.
We owe Him thanks both for the teachings and the protection which He has graciously provided for us.
Third, we confess and ask forgiveness that we have spent our lives in ingratitude and sin and have maligned our neighbor with false and wicked talk, though we owe him the same preservation of honor and integrity which we desire for ourselves.
Fourth, we ask for help from now on to keep the commandment and for a healing tongue, etc.
The Ninth and Tenth Commandments: You Shall Not Covet.
The Ninth and Tenth Commandments: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house." Similarly, "his wife," etc. This teaches us first that we shall not dispossess our neighbor of his goods under pretense of legal claims, or lure away, alienate, or extort what is his, but help him to keep what is his, just as we wish to be done for ourselves. It is also a protection against the subtleties and chicancries of shrewd manipulators who will receive their punishment in the end.
Second, we should render thanks to Him.
Third, we should repentantly and sorrowfully confess our sins.
Fourth, we should ask for help and strength devoutly to keep such divine commandments.
Conclusion of the Ten Commandments
These are the Ten Commandments in their fourfold aspect, namely, as a school text, song book, penitential book,and prayer book. They are intended to help the heart come to itself and grow zealous in prayer. Take care, however, not to undertake all of this or so much that one becomes weary in spirit. Likewise, a good prayer should not be lengthy or drawn out, but frequent and ardent. It is enough to consider one section or half a section which kindles a fire in the heart. This the Spirit will grant us and continually instruct us in when, by God's Word, our hearts have been cleared and freed of outside thoughts and concerns.
Nothing can be said here about the part of faith and Holy Scriptures in prayer because there would be no end to what could be said. With practise one can take the Ten Commandments on one day, a psalm or chapter of Holy Scripture the next day, and use them as flint and steel to kindle a flame in the heart.
A Simple Exercise for Contemplating the Creed
If you have more time, or the inclination, you may treat the Creed in the same manner and make it into a garland of four strands. The Creed, however, consists of three main parts or articles, corresponding to the three Persons of the Divine Majesty, as it has been so divided in the Catechism and elsewhere.
The First Article of Creation: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth."
Here, first of all, a great light shines into your heart if you permit it to and touches you in a few words what all the languages of the world and a multitude of books cannot describe or fathom in words, namely, who you are, whence you came, whence came heaven and earth. You are God's creation, his handiwork, his workmanship. That is, of yourself and in yourself you are nothing, can do nothing, know nothing, are capable of nothing. What were you a thousand years ago? What were heaven and earth six thousand years ago? Nothing, just as that which will never be created is nothing. But what you are, know, can do, and can achieve is God's creation, as you confess (in the Creed) by word of mouth. Therefore you have nothing to boast of before God except that you ae nothingand He is your Creator who can annihilate you at any moment. Reason knows nothing of such a light. Many great people have sought to know what heaven and earth, man and creatures are and have found no answer. But here it is declared and faith affirms that God has created everything out of nothing. Here is the soul's garden of pleasure, along whose paths we enjoy the works of God - but take too long to describe all that.
Furthermore, we should give thanks to God that in His kindness He has created us out of nothing and provides for our daily needs out of nothing - has made us to be such excellent beings with body and soul, intelligence, five senses, and has ordained us to be masters of earth, of fish, bird,and beast, etc. Here consider Genesis, chapters one to three.
Third, we should confess and lament our lack of faith and gratitude in failing to take this to heart, or to believe, ponder, and acknowledge it, and having been more stupid than unthinking beasts.
Fourth, we pray for a true and confident faith that sincerely esteems and trusts God to be our Creator, as this article declares.
The Second Article of Redemption: "And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord," etc.
Again a great light shines forth and teaches us how Christ, God's Son, has redeemed us from death which, after the creation, had become our lot through Adam's fall and in which we would have perished eternally. Now think: just as in the first article you were to consider yourself one of God's creatures and not doubt it, now you must think of yourself as one of the redeemed and never doubt that. Emphasize one word above all others, for instance, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Likewise, suffered for us, died for us, arose for us. All this is ours and pertains to us, that us includes yourself, as the word of God declares.
Second, you must be sincerely grateful for such grace and rejoice in your salvation.
Third, you must sorrowfully lament and confess your wicked unbelief and mistrust of such a gift. Oh, what thoughts will come to mind - the idolatry you have practiced repeatedly, how much you have made of praying to the saints and of innumerable good works of yours which have oppressed such salvation.
Fourth, pray now that God will preserve you from this time forward to the end in true and pure faith in Christ our Lord.
The Third Article of Sanctification: "I believe in the Holy Spirit," etc. This is the third great light which teaches us where such a Creator and Redeemer may be found and plainly encountered in this world, and what this will all come to in the end. Much could be said about this, but here is a summary: Where the holy Christianchurch exists, there we can find God the Creator, God the Redeemer, God the Holy Spirit, that is, him who daily sanctifies us through the forgiveness of sins, etc. The church exists where the Word of God concerning such faith is rightly preached and confessed.
Again you have occasion here to ponder long about everything that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the church every day, etc. Therefore be thankful that you have been called and have come intosuch a church. Confess and lament your lack of faith and gratitude, that you have neglected all this, and pray for a true and steadfast faith that will remain and endure until you come to that place where all endures forever, that is, beyond the resurrection from the dead, in life eternal. Amen