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 an old pray, deeply biblical, is one more way to learn to pray.

“Blessed Lord who has caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning, Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them. That by patience and comfort of your holy word we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.” 1662 BCP collect for Advent 2

First, note how dense the prayer is. It is both a concise theology and prayer at the same time. we will unpack this in a moment, but please note that when we pray this prayer it is teaching us at the same time.

Second, the prayer is deeply biblical. Some of the language comes from Romans 15:4-13, the scripture text which accompanies the prayer. You also get images from the book of Ezekiel and the book of Revelations. You get the teaching of the texts like 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It summarizes Jesus’ teaching, that when you hear the Bible, you are hearing God Himself speaking to you (Mark 7:6-13 one of many examples). So when you pray this ancient prayer, you are praying biblically.

Third, as you pray this prayer, you are remembering what the Bible is and why you should read the Bible. You are asking the Lord to help you read the Bible in the right way. And you are asking for help to embrace the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Fourth, it is the Lord that you pray to. The same Lord that you are talking to in prayer, is the same Lord who speaks to you in the Bible. It is the Lord Himself who caused all of the Bible to be written. The Lord spoke to us in His word so we can learn from Him. So, you need to pray and you need to read the Bible. When you do both, you both speak to the Lord and listen to Him. You have a conversation, not a monologue.

Fifth, since it is ultimately and most important the Lord who caused all Holy Scripture to be written, you need to read the Bible the right way. In the prayer you ask the Lord to help you read His word in five complementary ways. The first is to “hear” the word. The second is to “read” the word. To “mark” the word means to “take note” or “pay
attention” to what you are reading/hearing. To “learn” from the word means that you need to humbly acknowledge your life long need to learn all that the Lord teaches through His word. This means that you are willing to say that what He says is true and trumps what you have learned from your culture. Finally, you are to “digest” the scriptures. You are to chew on them; let them enter into you; be fed by them. The scriptures are not to be chewed like gum, which you spit out after the flavour has gone. Scriptures are like a meal. You chew on the Scriptures to swallow them.

Finally, you patiently read the Bible seeking to know and embrace more and more of who Jesus is, what He has done for you, is doing for you, and will do for you. You read the Bible prayerfully, knowing that the Lord is using your Bible reading to fit you to dwell in His new Heaven and Earth with Him.