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Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Proper Prayer

The following collect comes from the "Book of Worship" of the Evangelical & Reformed Church (1947). It's for the 1st Sunday of Lent:

"We beseech thee, O Lord, by the mystery of our Savior's fasting and temptation, to arm us with the same mind that was in him toward all evil and sin; and give us grace to keep our bodies in such holy discipline, that our minds may be always ready to resist Satan, and obey the direction of thy Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."


I was delighted (and a bit surprised) to see this collect in a Reformed book on worship.

1st-it begins "by the mystery of our Savior's fasting and tempation...".  The collect assumes and embraces the important idea that our Lord's 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, and His temptation, was for us and for our salvation. Most folks read Matthew 4.1-11 as, "Here are the three steps I need to follow to overcome sin." But in the collect we look to His trials in the wilderness as being on our behalf.

2nd-the collect then goes on with "to arm us with the same mind that was in him toward all evil and sin". This is the proper place to go, taking its lead from 1 Peter 4.1-2,

"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God."


3rd-Then this prayer handles the ancient idea of  "askesis" in a proper way! "and give us grace to keep our bodies in such holy discipline, that our minds may be always ready to resist Satan, and obey the direction of thy Holy Spirit". Askesis (which is where the words ascetic and asceticism come from) means discipline, training for a sports event, and was used by the earlier church pastors and theologians for the idea of training for the ultimate "event" of martyrdom. Therefore,until that day, we train by prayer, by resisting Satan and temptation, by growing in godliness, by bodily discipline of fasting at set times, etc.

This delightful prayer is Biblical and properly Christ-centered.

Blessings,
Mike

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