Friday, 29 June 2018

Something to Cling To: the Holy Spirit in the Prayer Books Part 10

The following was published in the Spring 2018 edition of Anglicans for Renewal magazine. To subscribe visit http://armcanada.org/.



This is number ten in our Anglicans for Renewal Holy Spirit in our Prayer Books series. The more I dig into these brilliant tools for prayer discovering and enjoying their Holy Ghost references the more I am convinced that, if you and I would just take them up and wield them faith, our strength in the Lord and in the strength of his might (Eph 6.10) would increase exponentially. We need that kind of strength because the fact is we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6.12). This wrestling goes on in our relationships, how we entertain ourselves, what we do with our money, how we do church—in our worship, vestries, councils, synods and pastoral care—in every aspect of our parish and personal lives. 

To pray the Daily Offices is to put on the whole armour of God. As I simply “take them up and wield them in faith” the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, does his supernatural thing enabling me to fasten the belt of truth around myself securely and properly. The righteousness which becomes a truly protective spiritual breastplate becomes clear. He provides me with the sensible shoes of the Holy Ghost, the shield of faith, the ultimate and eternal safety helmet, and the lectionary has me reading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting the word of God, which is “the sword of the Spirit.” Praying the Daily Office keeps me “praying at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6.14-18). 

The Canadian Book of Common Prayer was my introduction to Anglican daily prayer back in the 80s. I prayed through it thoroughly. THE ORDER FOR MORNING AND EVENING PRAYER DAILY TO BE SAID THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, PRAYERS AT MID-DAY, THE LITANY, the PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS UPON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, the FORMS OF PRAYER TO BE USED IN FAMILIES. I prayed them all. Systematically. All 46+9 of the PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS. I read through the lectionary. I loved it. As a result, I got to know it pretty well. So can you, and as you do, you will find it a rich Spirit filled source of prayer for all circumstances. 

When The Book of Alternative Services came on the scene, I explored the Offices and prayers in it, too. Back then I was an ordinary, if new, Anglican with a family and a job. I don’t remember it being particularly difficult to find the time to pray. I suspect that, with the Lord’s help, we are all able to find time for what is important to us. 

When I do make the time to pray and make the effort to pay attention during Sunday liturgies charismatic treats pop up when I least expect them. For example, Litany 7 in The Book of Alternative Services in which one of the petitions is this: 
For all who have consecrated their lives to the kingdom of God, and for all struggling to follow the way of Christ, let us ask the gifts of the Spirit.
Lord, hear and have mercy. 
It is all too easy to breeze on past this charismatic treat. Let’s take a moment here to unpack it. If we were baptised as infants, our parents first consecrated our lives to the kingdom of God. We then consecrated them ourselves when we were confirmed. We continue to consecrate and re-consecrate ourselves day by day, Sunday by Sunday, as we struggle (wrestle) to follow the way of Christ as we live our lives and as we pray, read and listen to Scripture and as we enjoy the feeding our souls in the Holy Eucharist. What do we need so we might succeed in the struggle according to this petition? The charismatic gifts of the Spirit—manifestations of the Spirit given to each of us for the common good (1 Cor 12.7). Here they are again: 

🔥Words of wisdom
 🔥Words of knowledge
 🔥Faith
 🔥Gifts of healing
 🔥The working of miracles
 🔥Prophecy
 🔥The ability to distinguish between spirits
 🔥Various kinds of tongues
 🔥The interpretation of tongues

Not many Anglicans, or Christians of other denominations, are experiencing any of those very often, if ever. Our devotional lives and our worship are the poorer for it. So pray. Pray asking for the Lord to release the gifts of the Spirit anew. Pray that these gifts will become an obvious and vibrant part of our worship and devotional landscape. Use Litany 7 (BAS p116), or this particular petition, in your daily prayers. Work through all the Litanies every now and then. Not only will they help you focus your prayers as you pray through the things you are particularly concerned about, but I find they also remind me of things I’d forgotten to pray about. 

I’m fond of one of Sister Monica Joan’s sayings in Call the Midwife as she struggled with her dementia, 



It doesn’t matter how arrayed my mind is, or how spiritually dry I am feeling. If I just take hold of the rope, the Daily Office rites will pick me up and carry me along. As I surrender myself to the words of the liturgy and the Scriptures, they will accomplish in me what the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ purposes. They will succeed in the things for which he sent them (Isa 55.11). I don’t have to be holy, or clever, or erudite or eloquent, all I have to do is take hold of the rope. 

I cling happily still. I hope you can take a hold of the rope, too. 

Gene+