The question I want to consider in this month’s article is, “How can I use the Small Catechism in my daily life?” To answer this question, let us look briefly at Luther’s arrangement of the first three parts of his Catechism: the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.
The word, “catechism” simply means ‘instruction’ or ‘teaching.’ There were others throughout the history of the Christian Church leading up to Martin Luther who put together catechisms to teach and instruct the members of the Church in the basics of the Christian Faith. Almost all of the catechisms throughout church history contained instruction on the Ten Commandments, the Creeds, and the Lord’s Prayer. However, Luther’s arrangement was unique. He was one of the very first to put the Ten Commandments first. When asked why he arranged the Small Catechism the way he did he gave this helpful comparison to a sick man in need of medicine:
One way is to continually “go back to the basics” and study these chief teachings of Scripture and the whole Christian Faith. Have a copy of the Small Catechism in your home and review it often on your own and with your family. We can grow and mature in our Christian Faith and the conviction of the truth and meaning God’s promises for our lives by being a lifelong student of the Small Catechism.
Another way to use the Small Catechism in your daily life is to use it to share the Gospel. You can use Luther’s arrangement of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer as a simple way to help others see their sin-sickness and how it has separated them from God, their Creator. You can use the Creed and Luther’s meaning of it to share God’s medicine of grace in Christ with others and how God delivers that grace personally to sinful individuals through his Holy Spirit. You can show them how to pray continually for this medicine of grace and immortality through the Lord’s Prayer. When the “basic” teachings of the Christian faith and a clear meaning and explanation of them are on our minds and in our hearts then often it will be reflected in our actions, our thoughts, and our words.
 Arand, Charles P, That I May Be His Own: An Overview of Luther’s Catechisms (St. Louis: CPH, 2000), 130-131 (emphasis, mine).