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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments part 10

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Matthew 6:5–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

In the end, if we count as sacraments all of those things that have God’s command with a related promise, then why do we not add prayer, which could most truly be called a sacrament? For it has both God’s command and very many promises. If it was placed among the sacraments, and so, be given a more important place, it would invite people to pray. Alms could also be considered here, as well as afflictions, both which are signs to which God has added promises. But let us skip these things, for wise people will not fuss too much about the number or the terminology, so long as those things are retained that have God’s command and promises.

Pulling It Together

God does command his people to pray (Matt 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40, 46; 1 Thes 5:17). Rewards are promised to those who pray. However, there is no promise of grace attached to prayer. Nor is there the promise of grace connected with almsgiving, though we are commanded to give alms (Deut 15:11; Luke 11:41).

How many sacraments there are and what they are called is not at issue here. The question is: what is a sacrament? If a sacrament is a rite that has been commanded by God, and to which he has attached the promise of his grace, we should not argue too much.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for always being ready to hear my prayers. Amen. 

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