Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Holy Spirit in the Prayer Books: Part 4

This was published in the Summer 2016 issue of Anglicans for Renewal, the Anglican Renewal Ministries Canada magazine—follow the link the ARM Office to subscribe here

So far we have seen that the Holy Spirit is truly present and recorded in our foundation documents, in daily prayer, Baptism and Confirmation in both The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and The Book of Alternative Services (BAS). The Holy Spirit brings us God’s love and power. He also sanctifies, regenerates, strengthens, fills, sustains, seals and renews us, more and more, and daily.

Anglican Renewal Ministries (ARM) Canada promotes the Anglican Prayer Book tradition of prayer, both private and corporate. Holy Spirit filled prayer books ensure that all the important devotional bases are covered: confession, worship, intercession, petition and Scripture reading. Holy Spirit filled people, even introverted Anglicans, faithfully and systematically praying the words in Holy Spirit filled and inspired prayer books cannot but be a powerful, spiritual force to be reckoned with. They are The Church of Jesus Christ at prayer.


The Holy Spirit’s power and presence are consistently invoked. Even, for example, in the Prayer of Absolution, in the Orders for Morning and Evening Prayer “DAILY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR” the priest prays that Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, would “grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do at this present, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy; so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord” (The Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Book Centre, 1962, pp 5 & 20). The benefits of true repentance and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives are amazing: the things we do please God, our lives become pure and holy and our final destination is “his eternal joy.” What could be better?

Glory Be…

Then we pray the Lord's Prayer, ask the Lord to open our lips so we can praise him, and to save and help us before giving God glory in a brief declarative statement of worship—a worship “capsule” that can be used anywhere, no matter whether you’re alone or with someone else, even when you don’t have a band or organ handy. It’s like a mini hymn or worship song, only without music:
GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. (BCP, p6)
This deceptively short, but profound, hymn is then repeated after the VENITE and BENEDICTUS in MORNING PRAYER and the MAGNIFICAT and NUNC DIMITTIS in EVENING PRAYER. We respond to inspired words of Holy Scripture with properly Trinitarian worship. The Holy Ghost/Spirit is worshipped and glorified along with the Father and the Son.

It is all too easy to say it routinely and without thinking, of course, just as I am likely to do with my prayer ending amens. It’s one of the dangers of liturgical worship. The words become familiar as we wear our habitual path through them day by day or week by week. They become part of what critics call “empty ritual.” The solution is to fill them by applying my heart every time I read, say or sing them. Worship can be hearty even with no music or in silence. The Helper (John 14.16) himself helps with that.

The BAS has these worship capsules, too. I prefer the BCP version with its “world without end.” It just seems to roll off the tongue more smoothly, but either works. God is verbally worshipped and glorified in Three Persons.

Te Deum 

The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee, The Father, of an infinite Majesty; Thine honourable, true, and only Son; Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. (BCP, p8)
Not Scripture, but inspired nonetheless. Sound Trinitarian worship in prose from the fourth century reminding us of how Jesus described the Holy Spirit as Comforter (John 14.16, KJV)—rendered as Advocate, Counsellor or Helper in later translations. This is The One who, indeed,
over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
(Gerald Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur
AB Simpson, Canadian preacher, author and founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance ( described the Holy Spirit as the “mother heart of God.” “I will not leave you as orphans,” Jesus said, “I will come to you” (John 14.18). Every morning TE DEUM LAUDAMAS reminds me that he didn’t and he has.

Believing It

Among others, the Apostle’s Creed (BCP, pp 10 & 22) calls for two key tenets of belief about the Holy Ghost/Spirit: that Jesus was conceived by him and that we believe in him as the Third Person of the Holy and Eternal Trinity—One God. Again, I prefer the BCP version because it comes every day; rain or shine, feeling spiritual or not, without options, for ever and ever. Amen. I believe it does my soul good to repeat the words so I confess my faith over and over again. What I believe gets into my bones and helps my unbelief (Mk 9.24).

Can it be monotonous? Yes, but monotony has benefits. In “Knit Your Way to a More Prayerful Life,” a wonderful Her.menuetics blog post for Christianity Today magazine, Rachel Marie Stone quotes GK Chesterton who explains why:
Children have abounding vitality… they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. 
But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. 
It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. 
Just so, the offices and the liturgy, including The Creed, bear repeating. Lots of it.


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