Saturday, October 24, 2015

Keep us this day without sin. . .

Praying the prayers of the offices is a wonderful activity.  We pray there some of the most earthly and earthy prayers of the Christian in the Christian life under the cross.  I marvel in them every time I pray them.

In Matins we pray:
O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day. Defend us in the same with Your mighty power and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen

Morning Prayer has us pray:
Almighty God, merciful Father, who created and completed all things, on this day when the work of our calling begins anew, we implore You to create its beginning, direct its continuance, and bless its end, that our doings may be preserved from sin, our life sanctified, and our work this day be well pleasing to You; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

At Noontime we pray:

Heavenly Father, send Your Holy Spirit into our hearts to direct and rule us according to Your will, to comfort us in all our afflictions, to defend us from all error, and to lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

Finally in Vespers and in Evening Prayer we pray:
O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen

In all these prayers we see the overt reference to living this day without sin, as the righteous people of God.  We pray that we may be preserved from sin, our lives sanctified, and all we do well pleasing to the Lord.  We pray to be defended from all error and led into the truth.  We pray to live in peace and quietness, a people who obey the commandments of the Lord.  The prayers are nice but the point of them is not just nice.  They set before us sin and righteousness and ask us as the children of God by baptism and faith:  how then shall we live?  This is no small matter and it implies that we shall struggle against sin, strive to keep ourselves faithful amid temptation, and fight against the inclination to sin and the natural (since the fall) tendency to judge by what we see and not with eyes of faith.

In other words, there is a lot of sanctification in these prayers.  They remind us what Luther once wrote:

This life is not godliness, but growth in godliness;
not health, but healing;
not being, but becoming;
not rest, but exercise.
We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way;
the process is not yet finished, but it has begun;
this is not the goal, but it is road;
at present all does not gleam and glitter, but everything is being purified.

 - Martin Luther, A Defense and Explanation of All Articles (AE 32:24)

And these collects would turn Luther's statement into a prayer.  Pretty good stuff, indeed!

1 comment:

Charles said...

I always ponder the phrase "be righteous in Thy sight". I'm fully aware that even my good deeds are tainted by 'me'. They are 'righteous', in God's sight, only in Jesus.
-cbb of Sault Ste. Marie