What can we do when we feel anxiety in light of this COVID19 crises? Or where can we find spiritual help and hope in such a time when even the churches are closed for the duration? First, you should all follow your local health authority’s instructions. Second, join many today in rediscovered a priceless Christian resource!
Many Christians today are rediscovering the Treasures of their history, which speak powerfully into today’s crises. One such treasure is the Book of Common Prayer (Amazon; .ca; .co.uk). For a modern and online edition, which will guide you in the life shaping experience of daily devotions from this resource try (The Daily Office). For those who may want an audible experience I recommend the Trinity Mission. This resource has both text and accompanying MP3 recording. It lasts 15-18 minutes and is a great option for your daily commute.
What is the Book of Common Prayer all about? Is it a collection of someone’s prayers? No. The Book of Common Prayer (commonly referred to as the “BCP”) is a spiritual treasure chest of resources, building our faith in Almighty God to keep us in any uncertain time and now in this age of COVID19.
The Plan of Common Prayer and Spiritual Help
The BCP is one of the great treasures of the Christian Church. The word “Prayer” in this context speaks of communication to and from God as found in all of worship. Scripture is read and sung, and prayed and preached as the participant hears from God and replies to him using the collective wisdom of the whole historic Christian Church.
During the English reformation, the leaders of the Protestant cause knew that the most important thing they could do was to create in their nation a Bible literate people. So, Cranmer envisioned an education and spiritual enrichment project that the whole of England could embrace together. A great scholar, he searched for the best and most biblical helps in all of church history and in every language he could research. With a project lasting several decades the great English Reformer Thomas Cranmer crafted a daily program of worship. He didn’t do this alone, but had help from many including famed reformers such as John Knox of Scotland and Theodore Beza (Calvin’s Successor).
The plan included such elements as:
- Scripture Reading from the Old and New Testaments (taking the reader more or less through the whole Bible in a year–the gospels four times!);
- Singing or Reading the Psalms through every month;
- Singing or Reading some of the great spiritual songs of the faith from Scripture and the early church;
- Praying prayers summarizing great Biblical truths; and
- Reciting the core Creeds or summaries of historic, orthodox Christian belief.
The Impact of Common Prayer and Spiritual Help
The idea was that by following these rhythms and listening to Scripture, England would become a Bible saturated country. And from this reformed bible saturated country, realms of scholarship, a Christian culture, the end of slavery, and the global missions movement was born.
I have found myself again and again, pulling treasures out of this 500 year old compendium, and I would commend it to you. As we have moved into a time of global crises, I have been encouraged by the Psalms and strengthened by prayers that others have prayed in previous crises for centuries. They are tried and true.
The Collects of Common Prayer and Spiritual Help
One type of prayer included in the Book of Common Prayer is a Collect. A collect is a type of prayer that summarizes the biblical themes of the readings and prayers of the day.
The prayer focus of a couple weeks ago (the last time I was able to attend a public worship service) was the collect of the Second Sunday in Lent. The collect seems very appropriate in these days:
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves
to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and
inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all
adversities that may happen to the body, and from all evil
thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I am praying this prayer (or inspired by it to pray similarly) daily. There is hope and help in Almighty God, even in the darkest of days.