How Lutherans Worship -14: Response to the Word–The Creed and The Prayer of the Church

The Creed

Having received and been instructed from the Word of the Lord, we respond by confessing the Christian faith. This statement of faith is called a Creed (from the Latin word credo, “I believe”).

Romans 10:9–10
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

From the earliest times of the Church, there have been creeds. While certainly the Bible records some of the earliest creeds (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3, Philippians 2:11), challenges to correct doctrine required the Church to form responses that stated clearly the teaching of Scripture.


I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
From thence he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Christian church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Apostle’s Creed is the oldest of the Christian creeds. It appears to have arisen out of the earliest worshiping communities as a concise and easily learned way to catechize converts what to believe about the person and work of God. This creed is often confessed at Baptism, personal devotions, and in corporate worship when the Lord’s Supper is not being celebrated.


I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church, I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life +of the world to come. Amen.

While the earliest creeds arose out of need to teach what to believe, there were times that Church needed to take a stand and teach what not to believe. Fourth century controversies over the work and Person of Jesus Christ caused chaos in the Church and threatened to destroy the true Scriptural teaching about Jesus. The Nicene Creed was formed in response to the false teachers. The larger second article, which teaches about Jesus, is in direct response, and condemns, the false teachings of that time. The Nicene Creed became the standard by which congregations, and a Christian, were in unity with the teaching of Scripture. The Nicene Creed, with it’s teaching that Christ came into the world “for us” to pay for our sins, and that He will “come again” have won it a place as part of our celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar.


Whoever desires to be saved must, above all, hold the catholic faith. Whoever does not keep it whole and undefiled will without doubt perish eternally. And the catholic faith is this, . . .

 . . . This is the catholic faith; whoever does not believe it faithfully and firmly cannot be saved.

The third of the Church’s historic creeds is also her longest. The Athanasian Creed stresses the right teaching of the faith, and the unity, which comes only from a right confession. Because of its clear teaching on the nature of God, the Athanasian Creed is often confessed on Trinity Sunday.

These statements, while never seen as being the same as the inspired Word of God, are confessed because they clearly and accurately present the teaching of Scripture. Because their contents, then, are Scriptural, the doctrines they taught are held to be true and necessary for all members of the Church to confess. By confessing one of the Church’s historic creeds, we express our unity in the faith, a unity of what we believe, teach, and confess—a unity of faith that unities us with what the entire Church has confessed throughout the world and across the ages.

Prayer of the Church

1 Timothy 2:1–4
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Corporate prayer has always been a mark of the public worship of the One True God. It is both our duty and our privilege as God’s children to bring our concerns before Him. Within the Divine Service, the public prayer is a response to the Word and all that has been heard. The Prayer of the Church is the congregation’s prayer and all join this response to the riches that have been received, and uses the themes of the day as a focus for the petitions that are offered. In the Prayer of the Church teaches us to pray not only for our own needs but also for our neighbor. This is seen in the traditional invitation: “Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.” This is the longest prayer in the Divine Service and may include petitions

  • for the local congregation and the Church at large,
  • for right teaching,
  • for protection from the assaults of the devil,
  • for the government,
  • for those who suffer,
  • for the welfare and safety of ourselves and others,
  • for the conversion of the unbeliever,
  • and for the restoration of those who have left the Church.

All those in the congregation are invited to add their voices to each petition by responding with “Hear my prayer” or with the words from the Kyrie, “Lord, have mercy.”

The traditional position of the Prayer of the Church at the conclusion of the Service of the Word and before the Service of the Sacrament also teaches us the interrelationship of these parts of the liturgy. Having heard the Word read and proclaimed in the Service of the Word, the congregational members, as the body of Christ, carry out their God-given status as the royal priesthood of believers. We glorify God and intercede before Him, thereby serving Him and our neighbor. Then in the Service of the Sacrament, we are reminded and taught anew the very means by which God richly provides for our greatest need; for surely if God did not spare His own Son, but sacrificed Him for our salvation, then He will secure for us the things for which we pray in this life.

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