Dear Friends,

We learn to speak by hearing people speak. We learn to pray by reading the Bible, God’s word written, and by hearing godly people pray. Praying old prayers, deeply biblical, is one more way to learn to pray.

“Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the words of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which Your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when He shall come again in His glorious majesty, to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through Him who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and ever. Amen.” 1662 BCP, Collect for Advent.

First, note how dense the prayer is. It is a “Concise Theology” and a prayer at the same time. We will unpack this in a moment.

Second, if you were to read the two scripture texts that accompany the prayer, you will see that the prayer is biblical, taking parts of Romans 13:8-14 and turning it into prayer. When you responsibly pray the Bible, you are letting God’s word, His heart and will, to guide your prayer. Listen to parts of the Bible text: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the words of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12) The opening line of the prayer, “…give us grace that we may cast away…” reflects the teaching of all of the Bible, but also the literary structure of the book of Romans. In Romans, the first 11 chapters are about God’s grace given to us through the finished saving works of Jesus Christ upon the cross. We receive this grace from God by repentance and faith. Chapter 12-15 says, okay, given that we have received grace from God, how shall we then live? So Romans 12-15 describes the moral shape of your life when you have received God’s grace and been redeemed.

Third, look at the prayer. It is trinitarian. We pray to Almighty God. We remember Jesus’ work and example. The prayer closes by mentioning all three members of the trinity.

Fourth, the prayer reminds us that Jesus’ first coming was marked by His great humility (Phil. 2:8 “…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross). But His second coming will be marked by His great Majesty and His judging every human being alive, and every human being who was ever alive. So the prayer reminds us, or teaches us, that He has come and will come again, and we are to live in light of these two great Biblical truths.

Fifth, it reminds us that God is Almighty. He is the one and only God who made Earth, and all the Universe. He is the one and only God who can shape history. As Almighty, God is bigger and more powerful than any country, cause, institution, people, or problem you will ever meet. God is big and everything else is small. But God is big and full of grace, that is why He does not crush us, but gives grace, that when we receive it as He intended, Christs righteousness covers us when judged, and His righteousness fits us “to rise to the life immortal”.