Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Priests' & Pastors' Prayers: so basic but so decisive

...the Cleargie, and specially suche as were Ministers of the congregacion, should (by often readyng and meditacion of Gods worde) be stirred up to godlines themselfes, and be more able also to exhorte other by wholsome doctrine, and to confute them that were adversaries to the trueth. Preface, 1549 Book of Common Prayer

That practice of praying over Scripture and the attendant description of the clergy role are elusive today. If clergy had to punch a time clock (and I have heard of congregations attempting to impose this), prayer would probably be logged as "non-productive hours."

In contrast, the readings at Morning Prayer today point to the essential place of prayer in Christian leadership. Christ himself models it:

...now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray. Luke 5:15-16

Prayer was more urgent than the pressing needs all around? More important than stoking the momentum of a crowd?

Absolutely, warns the reading from the Prophet Hosea. When the spiritual leaders are not seeking God,

There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing. Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest... My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge... (4:1-4)

Without our own daily quest for God in prayer, our efforts to stay busy and relevant will simply ape the world's stuff. What Jesus wants for us and for his world is something much greater:
Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, 'We have seen strange things today.' (Luke 5:26)


Rick H. said...

The Catholic Church certainly agrees with you. All religious, all ordained clergy, and all seminarians are obligated to read the Office of Readings, and pray the Morning Office, Daily Office, Evening Office, and Night Prayer every day.

I try to imagine what TEC might be like if it adopted such a rule. What a radical concept-- our pastors and religious leaders should set aside several times a day for prayer.

TLF+ said...


And common prayer at that! Same lessons, same prayers, listening for God.

The Underground Pewster said...

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (King James Version)

Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.