The primary aim of the devotional writings in the Treasury of Daily Prayer is to serve those who pray the Treasury with solid devotional material. Our selection of writings for the Treasury reflects the faith and confession of the Lutheran Church, and consequently, features a selection of writings from the church fathers. The selection of writings in The Treasury demonstrate the Lutheran Church’s catholicity, and, where it was not fully known, to introduce our readers to their heritage as Lutheran Christians. What Lutherans believe has always been taught, if not always purely or fully, in the Church. Thus The Treasury provides representation to every era Of the Church. We are not, of course, in full agreement with everything every writer we used ever wrote. We could not even say that of Martin Luther. But we are united to all our writers in faith and think they all have something to say to us. There are sure to be a few surprises even for the most well read among us. We do hope that some readers will be encouraged to deeper reading and for that reason (as well as legal obligations) we have provided full bibliographic information in the acknowledgments section of the Treasury.Standards for Selecting Content
No matter where they came from the devotional writings had to be scripturally sound and apply the message of Law and Gospel to the life of the reader. We wanted in every writing a clear statement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the first place, that is what our readers need. But so also we believe that this what our writers would want presented and preserved.
On top of that we wanted the writings to serve the Word. The main component of the Treasury is the Daily Lectionary. Wherever possible we chose writings that expounded the day’s lection directly. That wasn’t always possible. Some of the writings are related indirectly to the lection, commenting not on those exact passages but on the same topic or parallel passages. If that wasn’t possible we connected the writings to the Church Year using seasonal themes such as repentance in Lent and the Incarnation in Christmas.
The writings are meant to be read again and again every year. So they had to be substantial, to wear well, and to have something to say even after multiple readings. For that to work the writings needed to be timeless. That is why we chose to use no author who hadn’t entered into glory by 1950 and tried to avoid addressing current faddish topics. It is not that there haven’t been things written since 1950 that would fit the bill. It is simply that we aren’t in a position to yet identify those things. Let the next generation judge the last, for we are far better judges of our grandfathers than we are of our fathers. But every rule has an exception or two, and so did ours. We bent our rule for the sake of Herman Sasse, guessing that future Christians will count him as one of the most significant and profound voices of the 20th and century. We also let Dietrich Bonhoefer, who was 11 years younger than Sasse, in on a technicality. He met the letter of the law, he died in 1944, but that is only because the Nazis martyred him. Still martyrdom ought to count for something. And so also do we expect that Bonhoefer will be embraced by future generations and still serve us today.
It should also be noted that we received a large number of original translations from our contributors. As a result, many of the writings in the Treasury are not available anywhere else in English.
To meet our goals we made up categories of eras. Then we assigned target percentages to each. The content of the categories and the percentages are given and explained below. We solicited contributors from a wide slice of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod including professors, parish pastors, deaconesses, teachers, district presidents, and lay people. As well we solicited members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Lutheran Church of Canada, to help us find the best of the writings from the fathers of the Church. Many of these people had special skills, knowledge, or interest. Some went searching for us in works of writers they’d never heard of before, some within a corpus of which they had special knowledge. Each of our contributors donated their time and effort, and as already pointed out, many also donated translation work.
Categories of Writings
As you might guess from talk of Sasse and Bonhoefer, the Treasury was prepared with a distinct and deliberate Lutheran identity. This book was not to be simply a Lutheranized breviary. It was to be a Lutheran prayer book overflowing with Lutheran devotional writings. Nothing has worn so well, or so badly needed a way into the devotional lives of our people, as the Lutheran Confessions. Thus our first category, and highest target percentage, was the Lutheran Confessions. Our goal was to have 30% of the writings be from the Lutheran Confessions. We also took pains to make sure every word of the Small Catechism made it into the Treasury at least once, and that all the confessional documents were represented. Of the 400 days in the main body of the Treasury, 113 writings are from our Lutheran Confessions, or 28.25 %.
Our next concern was assuring the liberal inclusion of the writings of Martin Luther. He is our chief teacher. We set the target at 25%. Then we made a list of Luther’s most significant writings. We wanted them all to be represented in the Treasury. That proved tougher than expected. Certainly it was easy to find suitable material in Luther’s sermons and exegetical works. But some of his most important works are heavily polemic and not in the least bit devotional. Nonetheless, we managed to get at least one selection that met our criteria from each of the following works: The Bondage of the Will, The Freedom of the Christian, Against the Heavenly Prophets, Adoration of the Sacrament, To the Christian Nobility, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, A Simple Way to Pray, Heidelburg Disputation, The Marburg Articles, and The Invocabit Sermons. Our count is 95 writings from Luther, or 24% of the 400 total days.
The next largest category was what we thought of as early Church. This category included writers up through the 4th century. We set the target of 20%. A gem from the early Church on average appears every 5th day. This will be a new experience for most of our people. It was natural for us to run after Augustine and John Chrysostom, but we wanted more breadth than that, so we established a list of what we considered the most important writers from that era and managed again to get at least one from each. Our early Church writers include: Ambrose, Athanasius, Augustine, Basil, Clement, Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzus, Gregory the Great, Hilary of Poitiers, Ignatius of Antioch, Ireaneus, Jerome, John Cassian, John Chrysostom, John Damascene, Leo the Great, Origen, Tertullian, and Ephrem the Syrian. Our actual number of early Church writings is 68 of the 400, or 17%.
The Medieval Church
We also wanted writings that spanned the era from the early Church to the time of Luther. Even though this encompassed 1100 years, it wasn’t the most productive era of the Church. We set our target at a modest 10%. Again we felt there were writers that should be represented, chief of these was Thomas Aquinas and Anselm of Canterbury. But of all Christian literature nothing has been so influential on the life of the Church as St. Benedict’s rule. You will find Benedict’s advice for singing and prayer on September 23. Dante’s Divine Comedy also hails from the middle ages. It is probably the greatest piece of literature from its time. His imaginative depiction of Hell is still how most picture it. For all the power of Dante’s poetry, it wasn’t easy to find something suitable for the Treasury, but we did find a superb description of faith which you will find on September 9. Besides those four authors we also provided at least one writing from Hugh of St. Victor, Peter Chrysologus, Vincent of Lerin, Thomas Kempis, Bernard of Clairvaux, Bonaventure, John Donne, John Bunyon, and St. John of the Cross. Our actual number from this era is 25, 6% of the total 400 days.
The Lutheran Fathers
Our next category was Lutheran fathers of the 16th and 17th centuries. We hoped to have 10% of our 400 writings be from this era. We certainly wanted Martin Chemnitz, David Chytraeus, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Gerhard, and Johannes Bugenahage. But we thanks to our contributors we also got: Valerius Herberger, Veit Dietrich, Lucas Lossius, Meister Eckhart, Georg von Anhalt, Nicolaus Selnecker, and Timotheus Kirchner. So also we have Jacob Andrea, C.C. Schmidt, Joseph Seis, and Phillip Nicolai. Though he is not a Lutheran father, we included a reading from Thomas Cranmer who was of the same era. This category proved richer than we imagined: 54 writings, or 13.5%.
We also wanted a little taste of our own nearer history and established a category of Missouri fathers. This we set at 4%. We provided writings from C. F. W. Walther, Wilhelm Loehe, Paul Kretzmann, and Francis Pieper. Again, we found this richer than expected. Our actual number is 22 writings, or 5.5%.
The 20th Century
Finally, we wanted a taste of the best of the early part of the 20th century and set a target of 2%. We provided readings from Bo Giertz, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Werner Elert, Herman Sasse, Pius Parsch, and G. K. Chesterton. Here we far exceeded our target. We ended up with 15 writings for 5.75%.
Full list of contributors to the Writings included in Treasury of Daily Prayer:
Contributors: Scott T. Adle, Paul Gregory Alms, Eric Robert Andrae, John W. Berg, Sara Bielby, Jason M. Braaten, Kent J. Burreson, Emily K. Carder, David Coles, Shane R. Cota, H. R. Curtis, William M. Cwirla, Adriane Dorr, Burnell F. Eckardt Jr., Joel C. Elowsky, Karl F. Fabrizius, Thomas E. Fast, Erich R. Fickel, Ryan T. Fouts, William E. Foy, James A. Frey, Joshua D. Genig, Erik M. Heen, Erich J. Heidenreich, Gregg Hein, David Juhl, Aaron Koch, James A. Lee II, Mark A. Loest, Larry K. Loree Jr., Kevin W. Martin, Benjamin T. G. Mayes, Paul T. McCain, Aaron Moldenhauer, Herbert C. Mueller Jr., David C. Mumme, Paul G. Mumme, Jonathan Naumann, Pamela J. Nielsen, Preston A. Paul, David C. Ratke, Jody A. Rinas, John W. Sias, Robert E. Smith, Edward J. Steeh, Julie Stiegemeyer, D. Richard Stuckwisch, Ralph G. Tausz, Chad D. Trouten, Jon D. Vieker, David Jay Webber, Larry D. Wright, and Luke T. Zimmerman.