Prefiguring This Washing

From “Baptismal Booklet” (1523)

Almighty and eternal God, according to your strict judgment you condemned the unbelieving world through the flood. Yet according to your great mercy you preserved believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all. You drowned heart-hearted Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea. Yet you led your people Israel through the water on dry ground, prefiguring this washing of your Holy Baptism. Through the Baptism in the Jordan of your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, you sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood and a lavish washing away of sin. We pray that you would behold N. according to your boundless mercy and bless him with true faith by the Holy Spirit that through this saving flood all sin in him which has been inherited from Adam and which he himself has committed since would be drowned and die. Grant that he be kept safe and secure in the holy ark of the Christian Church, being separated from the multitude of unbelievers and serving your name at all times with a fervent spirit and a joyful hope, so that, with all believers in your promise, he would be declared worthy of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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. In 1523, he prepared a simplified German liturgy for churches aligned with his movement. His Baptismal rite included this “Flood Prayer” said over the waters, which came to be incorporated, in various forms, into later Protestant baptismal rites. This translation is from the Lutheran Service Book (2005) of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Martin Luther is commemorated on February 18 on the calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican Churches. 


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