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Greenville, SC REC Reformed Episcopal ACNA Anglican Church in North America Parish 1928 BCP 1928 Book of Common Prayer Divine Hours Daily Offices Breviary terce sext compline prime vespers

Week 10

Liturgical Location: we have begun the liturgy of the Sacrament. As we do so, the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church helps prepare us for the fellowship of the Table. How? The standard, manner, and scope of the Prayer reflect the standard, manner, and scope of the Grace we receive at the Table. In other words, how we pray sets the expectation of what we hope to receive. Thus, our prayers are to be Scripture directed (Scripture is the content of grace). We are not to approach God’s throne casually but reverently (we come by mercy not merit). Likewise, we are not to come with just our own concerns but rather we are to seek the well-being of all men everywhere, especially in light of the Church’s ministry to them (the Table nourishes us to serve). So far, the prayer has prompted us to seek the biblical grounding and fidelity of the entire Church (without which there will be no health for the Church or the unbeliever). Next, we turn our attention to the nations of the world in which the Church ministers.


C] Prayer for secular leaders (external leadership)

We beseech thee also, so to direct and dispose the hearts of all Christian Rulers, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice (peace), and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue (witness).


In this portion of the prayer we turn our attention to the world in which we live. Here we ask God to direct the leadership of all secular rulers in lands where Christians live and/or minister (notice then the phrase “Christian Rulers” is probably best understood as referring to those who rule over Christians and not exclusively to Christians who are rulers). At its heart this portion of the prayer seeks the external peace and witness of the Church. That is, we pray for the wellbeing of the nations in order that the Church’s worship and witness amid those nations may go forth unencumbered (Jer 29:4-7).

1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Notice then, we do not ask for a quiet life in order that we may squander it on self-centered living or worldliness. Instead, we ask for an environment where our witness and service may go forth without needless hindrance and where we may enjoy the fruits and blessings of the life that God has given us.


D] Prayer for Church leaders (internal leadership)

Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and other Ministers, that they may, both by their life and doctrine, set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments.


In this portion of the prayer we turn our attention to the internal leadership of the Church. Notice then that the prayer begins with the Bishops, whose responsibility it is to shepherd and govern the Church. Next, the prayer turns to remember the various other ministers who serve the Church under the bishop and on his behalf.


Notice the twofold request of the prayer. The first request is that our leaders would faithfully set forth God’s Word. In other words, we ask that they would proclaim (by both their words and their actions) that Scripture is:

·       God’s unique and infallible Word

·       that which is necessary to be believed by all men for salvation

·       the highest authority concerning all life and doctrine (the beginning, middle, and end of all understanding)

·       and the goal, manner, and motive of every endeavor


The second request is that the Sacraments would be rightly and duly administered. That is, we ask that the Sacraments would be

·       faithfully explained and thus clearly understood by God’s people

·       practiced with right reverence (verses either the superstitions of the Middle Ages or the reductions of modern Evangelicalism)

·       administered with due purity (thus limiting the Table to believers and administering due discipline among parish members)


Bottom line: the prayer reminds us that above all else we are to seek Word and Sacrament from our leaders.


E] Prayer for the particular congregation

And to all thy People give thy heavenly grace; and especially to this congregation here present; that, with meek heart and due reverence, they may hear, and receive thy holy Word; truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.

In this portion of the prayer we pray for the health and well being of the specific parish to which we belong. Notice then:


First and foremost and above all else, we ask God for His grace (give thy heavenly grace). Why? God’s grace always comes first. It is the single source and starting point of every aspect of the Christian life and walk. Therefore, the prayer begins by turning to God for that grace. Importance: notice we are not just asking to be a friendly church or a growing church. Rather, we are asking that God will work supernaturally in our lives, changing us and renewing us.


Second, notice why we ask God for His grace. We ask God for His grace that our parish may faithfully teach and receive His Holy Word. Importance: at once the prayer reminds us that Scripture is the blue print of what grace is doing in your heart. Remember, what Christ fulfilled for you (God’s Word/Law) the Spirit now fulfills in you. In other words, God’s grace always works in accordance to God Word.


{Notice then the centrality and interconnectedness of Word and Grace throughout the prayer. Grace is the means and Scripture the standard/content of the Christian walk}


Finally, notice the point: we ask God for His grace and His Word that we might grow in our walk and witness (truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness). Importance: remember the grace that saves you is a grace that changes you and the grace that changes you always changes you according to God’s Word in order that you might bear fruit for God’s Kingdom.


Bottom line: what this prayer seeks for our church and each member of it is hearts transformed by God’s grace and living God’s Word.


Closing remarks: as we pay attention to the words we are praying, the section of the prayer we have covered today reminds us of what Scripture says it means to be a healthy church (rooted in Scripture, transformed by grace, active in witness). As such, it enables us to refocus our goals for both our church as well as our own walks. Not only that, as the prayer prepares us for the Table, it reminds us of the true nature and objective of the grace that is offered there.

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