After the Reformer Martin Luther died, his friends who came to his room to remove his corpse found a note he had scrawled sometime in his final days: “We are beggars, that is true.”

With those scribbled phrases, Luther summed up his own hard-won theological perspective on what it means to be a human being: we are all utterly dependent on divine grace alone. Our supposed merits are insufficient to win us any favor with God. 

But Luther’s final sentence also expresses one of the chief themes of the Lord’s Prayer: far from being self-sustaining, we are needy creatures, reliant on energy from a source outside ourselves if we are to…



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