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Draw near: Praying for power

Lynne Baab • Tuesday June 28 2022

Draw near: Praying for power

One way to grow in prayer is to use prayers others have written. Because I was raised Episcopalian, many of the prayers in The Book of Common Prayer have a familiarity to me that goes back to my childhood. Here’s my favorite:

“Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.”

The Book of Common Prayer was written by Thomas Cranmer, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1533 to 1556. I love to ponder the ways the early readers of his prayers would have thought about the  connections between his words and their lives. In the sixteenth century, what kind of power and might from God did Christians long for? In what ways did they see themselves as hindered by their sins? What kind of help did they hope for? What did they feel they needed to be delivered from? As I ponder those four questions for life in 2022, I can think of far too many answers, and I feel overwhelmed. So many arenas of life these days are scary, dysfunctional, and dominated by people who appear to be self-serving or oblivious to human need.

For myself, I need God’s power and might to fill me with peace so I can follow Jesus today. I feel hindered by my tendency to catastrophize and my lack of love for so many people near and far who irritate and anger me. I need God’s help to forgive me and help me focus on obedience today. I need to be delivered from my fears and from my tendency to see the glass half empty.

Sometimes the glass doesn’t feel half empty. It feels totally empty, and those moments motivate me to pray yet one more time: “Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us.”

We can also pray this prayer for our neighborhood, city, state, nation and world. I love that when my husband Dave is irritated with things that are reported in the news, he often uses the word “we” to talk about the selfishness and lack of wisdom of the people described in the news. I tend to use “they.” The prayer keeps us focused on our solidarity with all humans, both the vulnerable and the oppressors, because in various ways we are both. “Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us.”

This prayer is assigned to the third week of Advent in The Book of Common Prayer. That means people around the world in Episcopal and Anglican churches pray this prayer between eight and fourteen days before Christmas. God did stir up his power and come among us with great might in the person of Jesus. God did bring bountiful grace and mercy to speedily help and deliver us through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit. As with so many things, the place where we find what we need is in Jesus as we follow him day by day.

Jesus, our Shepherd and Friend, come to us today in power, we beg. Through your Holy Spirit, help us know your peace deep inside us so we can live this day in obedience. Forgive us for our habitual sins. Deliver us from our fears. We pray this for ourselves and for all who live on this earth. 

(Next week: simple prayer for family and friends. Illustration by Dave Baab: Mount Rainier from Seward Park Ave. S., Seattle. I love to get new subscribers. If you’d like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up below under “subscribe.”)

I just uploaded an article that I wrote a few years ago for the Godspace Light blog: "Hospitality, the Bible, and Jesus." Somehow I missed getting it posted on my "articles" page earlier. 

Previous posts that include prayers from the Book of Common Prayer:



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