Send down the grace of thy Holy Spirit upon thy people, and grant that they may give cheerfully of their substance for the evangelizing of the world.
And what will this grace empower us to do in particular? “Give cheerfully of my substance for the evangelizing of the world.” Give cheerfully? Oh. A great prayer for “they” who are not me. But in praying it, I am forced to face up to the fact that “they” includes me. Sigh. So having the Holy Spirit sent down upon me is not just about speaking in tongues and prophesying and falling over and all that fun stuff. It’s also about giving cheerfully of my substance—who I am and what holds me together and makes me me, what I earn and have been given. Things easily thought of as mine. That doesn’t sound very charismatic!
And here’s another disturbing thought. This Holy Spirit prompted cheerful giving is from my substance, not God’s. In other words, the way the Holy Spirit has convicted me, is that my tithe is God’s in the first place. Not mine, His. So the giving in this prayer must come from my substance after the tithe and cheerfully! It is an offering over and above my tithe “for the evangelizing of the world”! As I pray through this prayer and write I realize that, at the moment, none of my regular offerings go specifically to missionary societies and evangelization. Things that make me go, “Hmmm!?!?”
Save its members from all error, ignorance, pride, and prejudice; and of thy great mercy vouchsafe so to direct, govern, and sanctify them in their deliberations by thy Holy Spirit, that through thy blessing the Gospel of Christ may be faithfully preached and obeyed, the order and discipline of thy Church maintained, and the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour enlarged and extended.
As you pray this prayer, consider how and where the Holy Spirit always directs God’s people—always to the Truth that is found in Jesus (John 14.17, 15.26, 16.13, 17.17, Eph 4.21) and never away from Jesus, his teaching and example. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct synod members ever and only to Jesus and his teaching on marriage and all other matters before General Synod 2019.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will also govern us all—the synod members in their deliberation and all of us in our behavior and response to their decisions. Examples of the Holy Spirit’s governance are the commandments Jesus made through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.2) and Paul being prevented from doing certain things by the Holy Spirit. For example, he was forbidden to speak in Asia and not allowed to go to Bithynia (Acts 16.6-7) and he was “constrained by the Spirit” to go to Jerusalem even when he was anxious as to what might happen to him there (Acts 20.22-23). The Holy Spirit guides and governs by saying go ahead, go here or go there and by saying don’t go.
Pray also that the Holy Spirit will sanctify—set apart as holy—the synod members for their task. That their motives and decisions will be holy and pure and “sanctified in the truth” of God’s word (John 17.17) which is, of course, the work of “the Spirit of truth” (John14.17, 15.26, 16.13) and that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we do not “ordain” in our “Rites or Ceremonies” any thing that is “contrary to God’s Word written” (Article XX. Of the Authority of the Church, BCP p706).
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