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 prayer, deeply biblical, is one more way to learn to pray.
“Almighty God, who has given us Your only begotten Son, to take our nature upon Him and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin. Grant that we, being regenerate and made Your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by Your Holy Spirit who lives and reigns with You and the same spirit ever one God, world without end. Amen.” The Collect for Christmas 1662 BCP
First, note how dense the prayer is. It is a concise theology and a prayer at the same time. We will unpack some of the theology in a moment, but please note that when you pray this prayer you are learning sound doctrine at the same time. In fact, after you have spent time meditating on the bible you could spend some time thinking upon and unpacking this prayer, since it packs so much sound doctrine into a few words.
Second, this prayer locates Christmas in the context of fundamental and important doctrine. Jesus came to die. He was born so He would live a very particular life and die a very particular death, with a very particular purpose and significance. This He succeeded in. It is why that just before he dies He says “It is accomplished” (John 19:30). If Jesus had not lived the life He lived and died the death He died, He would have been a failure. He would not be the Saviour and we would still await God to do what only He can do and make us right with Himself.
Third, the prayer reminds us that we must be born again. The prayer does not use the words born again, instead it uses the theological and biblical word regenerate. We are reminded that Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive. To be regenerate, is to be born again, born from above, made alive. It is a powerful biblical teaching for us to remember and pray the Lord will bring home to our heart, forming our new identity in Christ.
Fourth, we are reminded that we do not make ourselves regenerate or make ourselves God’s child. Only God can make us alive. Only He can adopt us as His child. He does this by grace. He is grace. He extends unmerited mercy and kindness to us. He acts with grace and He acts with power. It is His power which makes us alive and makes us His child by adoption. Note, since it is all God’s grace, all we can do is trust what He says, trust Him, ask and receive. So we are reminded of true faith, which involves stopping going away from Him by turning towards Him, assenting with the mind that only God can save and that He has done all that is needed in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son. And trust Him and His Son as we humbly ask for the gift of salvation.
Fifth, we are reminded that Jesus is both fully God and fully human. Everything in creation is made by God, but the Son of God is not made He is begotten. God the Son of God, while remaining fully God, took into Himself our human nature. The Lord did not squeeze Himself into a human being, He took human nature into Himself.
Sixth, we pray that we may daily be renewed by Your Holy Spirit. I know this is something I need to pray. I need this every day and so do you.
Merry Christmas!