“Short and Good Counsel to be Frequently Considered by Those who are in Deep Straits and Grievous Temptation”


The following is a selection from Seed-Grains of Prayer: A Manual for Evangelical Christians, by Wilhelm Löhe; trans. H. A. Weller, Benjamin T. Mayes; Orwigsburg (1916), Kansas City, Emmanuel Press (2006, 2010).

for A. C.

141. Short and Good Counsel to be Frequently Considered by Those who are in Deep Straits and Grievous Temptation

1.) Stand not unto thyself, and govern thyself not according to thy feelings; for he that dependeth upon his own heart is a fool.

2.) Dwell not upon thine own thoughts nor sink and en- tangle thyself into them, else thou castest thyself into the camp of the enemy that besieges thy soul.

3.) Keep not thy sufferings thyself; but seek and confide fully and quickly in thy more experienced pastor.

4.) Cleave unto the words which are spoken to thee in God’s name. Consider them in thy heart. Repeat them again and again and direct the thoughts and emotions of thy heart to them.

5.) Especially, let nothing make thee forget nor doubt these three passages:

a. The word of Isaiah, 49:14-16; concerning God’s faithful remembrance of us:

“Zion said, the Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”

b. The word according to John 10:28; concerning the security of the soul in the hands of Jesus:

“I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

c. The word according to Matthew 10:28-31; concerning the security of the body in the hands of Jesus:

“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

6.) In moments of sore temptation, above all other times, neglect not the preaching of the Gospel, which is the power of God, rejoicing the soul.

7.) Neglect not to pray, even if it seem unto thee as if thou wert attempting to draw a load that is too heavy. James says, 5:13: “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.” Especially pray the 51st Psalm, vv. I2-I4: “Uphold me with Thy free spirit;” and Psalm 142.

8.) When thou feelest as if courage were at an end, begin to sing Psalms and spiritual hymns. This is very offensive to Satan and exerts a wonderful power upon troubled souls. Especially to he recommended are the Hymns of Praise. The prayer of praise will oft’ attain what no prayer of entreating sighs may gain. At times it immediately draws one out of his distress. If thou canst not thyself sing, let others sing for thee.

9.) When thou prayest take heed lest thou in any wise desire to be released of thy trial without or against the will of God. Say joyfully, or at least firmly, “If I shall drink this cup, dear Father, let Thy will be done.”

10.) Do not for one moment conceive that thou art the only one under so great trial. In Peter’s first Epistle, 4:12, thou learnest that such trials are common; and, in the same Epistle, 5:8, 9, that like sufferings come upon thy brethren which are in the world. When a man begins to imagine that he alone is suffering, or that his sufferings are greater than those of others it is a sign of secret vanity.

11.) Thou shalt thank God for His visitation upon thee. Temptation teaches to give heed unto the Word, and blessed is the man that endureth (James 1:2, 4, 12). Many one, if he but knew how great good unto him is hidden under his trials, would gladly give up all his days of joy for them.

12.) Meet thy temptations not idly. Idleness breeds and multiplies many temptations which had otherwise never come, not abode long if they came. Small is the hope for recovery of an able man tempted, if, when his temptation comes, he leaves the work of his calling undone or but half done.

13.) When thou art tempted, flee from solitude and seek the companionship of godly, joyful people. Few people can, without injury to themselves, live constantly in great companies, and less are they who can live in constant solitude without harm. God created men for each other.

14.) Many trials have their origin in a diseased body. If, therefore, an experienced pastor advises thee to seek the services of a physician, do not neglect that advice; but use the treatment prescribed with a prayer for God’s benediction upon such use.

15.) Consider these recommendations diligently. Let them guide and comfort thee; and may God grant thee peace. Amen.

142. Prayer of an Anxious Soul that Knows Not the Source of Its Anxiety

O Lord, since I know not whence arises this anguish which troubles and oppresses me in body and soul, whether from heaven or hell, or from mine own weak and diseased body, I flee unto Thee, Father of all mercy and God of comfort, to seek renewal and relief in Thee. Say unto me “Be of good cheer, my son, (daughter,) thy sins are forgiven thee,” and grant me confidence that this unrest in my members cometh neither by Thy curse nor wrath. So speak unto me that I may find that peace which passeth all understanding; and I shall bow under every anguish which Thy mighty hand sends me, and be at peace in the midst of unrest. Have mercy upon me, O great God, have mercy upon me for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

143. Prayer of a Troubled one Who Knoweth Not Whether His Trouble Cometh From the Devil or From His own Body

O Lord, since I know not whence cometh this grievous anguish and pain that oppresses and troubles my body and soul, whether from the devil or from mine own weak and diseased body, I commit the cause of all my suffering unto Thee and seek my help from Thee alone, O Lord, God of peace that passeth understanding. Take away, for the sake of Him, Who in Gethsemane and on the cross did suffer all human pain and anguish; take away, for the sake of Christ my only Savior, Who is the eternal covenant between Thee and me; take away my fear-filled heart, for His dear sake, and so bring quiet unto my body and soul. If it be Thy will, however, O God, that I continue in pain and anguish, grant unto me a sure haven of rest within, from whence I may overcome all things. Grant me Thy peace and the surety of Thy grace in Jesus Christ; and, when it shall seem to me that I am not able to suffer more nor to overcome my sorrow, then uphold Thou me and cause me to stand. Suffer me not to be tempted above what I am able; but with the temptation also make a way to escape that I may be able to bear it. O Thou, Who after the darkness and noonday heat of Good Friday gavest an evening of rest and peace, Thou wilt grant a mom of peace after a night of tears; through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ever quiet and more quiet let me grow, O peaceful Lamb, con- tent under trial and content in peace, content until my days shall end. Amen.

144. When Demon-Possession is Suspected

O Lord, whether it is the devil who is tormenting, convulsing, throwing my body, or only a bodily illness, it remains certain and unavoidably true to me, that Thou art my God and my Lord, to whom I am bound through Baptism and faith. No one can tear Thy sheep out of Thy hands— this Thy mouth and Spirit speak, with which Thou dost command and govern over all creatures, be they good or evil. Thou who gavest to St. Paul an angel of Satan who struck him with fists— and also grace sufficient for him— teach me with Paul to triumph over all affliction and to say, “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, not things to come, not height, not depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:31-39.) Alleluia. Amen.

145. Petition Against the Devil and the Powers of Evil

Eternal Lord, mighty Son of God, Who art come to crush the head of the serpent, and his dominion, and to destroy the works of the devil, we render Thee hearty thanks that by Thine almighty hand Thou deliverest us from the devil, through Thy Word and holy Baptism, and consecratest us to be holy temples and sanctuaries undefiled; and, we beseech Thee, that by Thine almighty arm and invincible power Thou wilt no more permit Satan to desecrate Thy house and defile Thy temple, not suffer him to have any power over us; O Thou Who lovest and defendest us: one unconquerable God and Lord, praised forever. Amen.

Pray also: “A Mighty Fortress is our God” (LSB 656), etc.