From “Letter to Severin Schulze,” Letters of Spiritual Counsel (June 1,1545)
The tax collector in Torgau and the councilor in Belgern have written me to ask that I offer some good advice and help for Mrs. John Korner’s afflicted husband. I know of no worldly help to give. If the physicians are at a loss to find a remedy, you may be sure that it is not a case of ordinary melancholy. It must, rather, be an affliction that comes from the devil, and must be counteracted by the power of Christ and with the prayer of faith.
This is what we do, and what we have been accustomed to do. A cabinetmaker here was similarly afflicted with madness and we cured him by prayer in Christ’s name. You should proceed as follows: go to him with the deacon and two or three good men. Confident that you, as pastor of the place, are clothed with the authority of the ministerial office, lay your hands upon him and say, “Peace be with you, dear brother, from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer over him in a clear voice, and close with these words: “O God, Almighty Father, who has told us through your Son, ‘Truly, truly I say unto you, Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it you’; who has commanded and encouraged us to pray in his name, ‘Ask, and you shall receive’; and who in like manner has said, ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me’; we unworthy sinners, relying on these you words and commands, pray for you mercy with such faith as we can muster. Graciously deign to free this man from all evil and put an end to the work that Satan has done in him, to the honor of your name and the strengthening of the faith of believers; through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, world without end. Amen,” (John 16, Psalm 50).
Then, when you depart, lay your hands on the man once again and say, “These signs shall follow those who believe; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover,” (Mark 16:17-18). Do these things three times, once on each of three successive days. Meanwhile let prayers be said from the chancel of the church, publicly, until God hears them. In so far as we are able, we shall at the same time unite our
faithful prayers and petitions to the Lord with yours.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German priest and theologian, a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation. His teaching about justification by faith, revealed in his study of the Pauline Epistles, became the core of Protestant teaching about salvation, and inspired a wide-reaching series of reform in Christian ministry, worship, and spiritual practice. Luther wrote to Severin Schulze, pastor at Belgern, a village near Luther’s home at Wittenberg, near the end of his life, when Luther’s counsel was widely sought by followers from across Europe. Martin Luther is commemorated on February 18 on the calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican Churches. The text is adapted for contemporary readers from Letters of Spiritual Counsel, a 1955 collection of Luther’s translated letters.