Friday, 5 February 2016

The Holy Spirit in the Anglican Prayer Books: Part Two

This was published in the Winter 2015 issue of Anglicans for Renewal, the Anglican Renewal Ministries magazine.

Last time I began working through our prayer books looking for references to the Holy Spirit in our foundational documents, rubrics and liturgies. If those of us who are interested in charismatic renewal were to pay closer attention to them and to pray into them, I wonder if The LORD might bless us with an awakening and some times of refreshing?

The first appearance in The Book of Alternative Services is in the Gloria at the beginning of Morning Prayer: "Lord, open our lips," we pray as the scene is set for worship, "And our mouth shall proclaim your praise. O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen." (p47) It's a fitting start. God, the Holy Spirit, is glorified and our worship is well directed as we open our lips and proclaim his praise. As often as possible, I like to make words like those among the first I utter each day. 

Decently and In Order
Some think prayer for the Holy Spirit's activity and presence needs to be extemporaneous and loud with wind and fire. That's good for extroverted folk and those who feel called to pray that way, but there are Spirit filled introverts (like me) who want to see the Church revived, too. 

I fear many of us have come to consider the Anglican daily prayer liturgies as spiritless prayer—routine, dry, by rote and empty. Not so. If they feel empty, it's because we are, not the liturgy. Our job is fill them by praying them anyway, at whatever volume, without losing heart (Lk18.1).

Whatever our style, the Biblical call is to pray without ceasing (1The5.17) which the daily offices encourage and for which they provide a trustworthy framework allowing things to "be done decently and in order." (1Co14.40)

Day by day we bless you
We praise your name for ever
(Te Deum Laudamus—A Song of the Church)

Learning the Ropes
Morning, Midday, Evening, Night prayer, Compline and all our liturgies are the Holy Scriptures set to prayer; living, active and sharp (Hebrews 4.12). Why not pray them as prayer to the Holy Spirit for the revival of the Church? Who knows? Might the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be moved in his grace and mercy to pour out his Spirit again if ordinary Anglicans like you and me were to faithfully, consistently and systematically pray the offices with revival in mind? If nothing else it would focus us.

My mind is often disarrayed with concerns for all manner of issues and tragedies. All I have to do is take hold of the rope, watch for the Holy Spirit in the service (and in the lectionary readings of the day), pause when I notice them, pray into the reference or verse and let it take me to the place where I "daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more" (The Book of Alternative Services, p628). You can do it, too. We don't have to be clever, articulate, creative or feel particularly holy. All we have to do is take hold of the rope. 

Alleluia! The Spirit of the Lord renews the face of the earth: 
O come, let us worship.
(Pentecost Invitatory, BAS, p48)

The next reference to the Holy Spirit in the BAS comes in The Apostles Creed for Morning Prayer. 

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit 
and born of the Virgin Mary. 
I believe in the Holy Spirit. (p52)

Jesus was conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. This is a basic tenet of our faith. We are to believe it. Believing that the Holy Spirit is who the Bible says he is, did what the Bible says he did and does what the Bible says he is still able to do is an important part of life and ministry in the Spirit. 

"Do not fear, only believe," Jesus said just before he took the little dead girl by the hand and said, "Child arise!" (Lk8.50-56) And she did. Believe. Pray that The LORD will take you and me and our church by the hand, too, saying, "Child arise!" so we will. 

Finally Morning (and Evening) Prayer comes to a close with reference to the Holy Spirit in the Grace. Our farewell to The LORD and to one another comes with these words: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen." (BAS, p55)

God's grace, that is his empowering presence to be who he made us to be and to do what he calls us to do, comes through Jesus. So does his love. The warm comfort, fire and power of the Holy Spirit comes in fellowship, that is, in a holy and friendly association with him. Those who share his interests grow from glory to glory through daily, systematic, unceasing prayer. 

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing 
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (BAS, p55)