Praying with the Saints, 3
Welcome to further musings of a Stoned-Campbell Disciple in the land of beer and cheese. I have shared two recent posts on "Praying with the Saints" that seem to have been received well (better than I imagined at any rate) so I have decided to share one more post . . . possibly two along these lines.
What follows below was actually written in the Summer of 2001. I have pealed open an old entry from the pages of my journal in order to share how prayers taken from the distant past provided incredible strength and wisdom during a particularly difficult week. I was younger than I am now and simply did not have the words to pray or the words to say (still don't!) . . . but the Lord in his providence had already provided a rhythm of grace a head of time for me and those for whom I ministered with.
"This week has been sort of a rough one at . . . : we have had two major surgeries to leaders in the congregation (one elder and one deacon) and two funerals. Because of this we have dealt with some stress. I had no clue how to comfort and minister especially to . . . and . . . Once again I have found strength and even "wisdom" in prayer from the fellowship of the saints during this time."
The Prymer, the Medieval collection of prayers I shared with you the other day includes a section known as "The Office of the Dead.(Dirige)" Historically this "Office" goes back to at least the seventh century and possibly earlier. This is separate from the Book of Hours which has been translated by Webber and included in his translation of The Prymer.
This Office is rooted in the existential nightmare of many Christians during the Medieval period. The Plague was a dreaded and deadly reality. The Office helps Christians voice both their anxiety over the deadly world and their confidence that our God, the Father of Jesus Christ, is on our side.
"This week I have found the prayers in the Office have proved a Godsend not only to me but to many whom I have shared them with . . . including at the two funerals."
For those who were constantly concerned with their mothers, fathers, sons and daughters . . . and death a daily reality, these prayers (many are Psalms) speak volumes. Let me share a few the Office . . . I have prayed all thirteen prayers numerous times this week.
Orisun: Inclina, Domine
"Prayer: Lord incline your ear
Lord, incline your ear to our prayers with
which we plead to you to save the souls of
your servants, both men and women,
whom you have called to pass out of this
world into eternal peace and light,
and into the fellowship of heaven.
By Christ, our Lord, Amen!"
Another moving prayer is
Deus, cui proprium
"God, whose nature it is to
have mercy and to spare us,
we pray and beg you
to save the soul of your servant
whom you have called to pass out of this world,
so that he may not be taken into the hands
of our enemies.
Do not forget him,
but take him up with the holy angels,
and lead him into the presence of eternal life
so that he hopes and believes in you.
Let him be forever glad in the company of heaven.
"These prayers have been especially meaningful for two ladies in our congregation who have lost godly husbands. These prayers express both our loss, our unspoken fears and yet express hope and confidence in the mercy and care of our Father. We have needed that this week . . ."
I thank the saints (nameless ones) who have written and preserved these prayers. What glorious riches we have with the saints in both heaven and on earth.
Last night we ended the day with our family time in which we prayed the prayers at Compline. I will share a couple of the prayers said at this time. One begins prayer time with the plea
Deus in adiutorium
"God, be my help
hurry to help me!
Glory to the Father, to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, it is now,
and will forever be. Amen.
Alleluia, Praise the Lord!"
I will share the middle prayer (which is a favorite) at Compline and then the one that ends:
Domine Ihesu Criste
Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of the the heavenly Father,
by your passion, your cross, and your death,
come between the judgment of our souls,
now and in the hour of our death.
And graciously save all Christians
by your mercy and grace in this life,
and give all who are dead
forgiveness and rest without end.
And to the church give peace and harmony,
and to us sinful people,
life and glory without end.
For you live and reign, one God, forever.
Finally because Compline focuses upon the hour in which Jesus died (demonstrated in the last prayer cited) we lay our heads down with a final prayer to the God of the faithful:
Orisun: Fidelium Deus
God of the Faithful
Lord, you who are the maker and provider of all the faithful:
Grant us remission and forgiveness of all our sins.
And may the souls of all the faithful dead enjoy your forgiveness
By Christ, our Lord! Amen.
Rest in peace.
These prayers were, and are, vehicles in which God moved to help minister to a local church and some sweet sisters. I could have never ministered with those sisters in the way those prayers did. The prayers helped them find their own voice as they cried out in the darkness . . . shoulder to shoulder with those who cried before.
I thank the Lord most high for his leading me to the rhythm of grace inspired by the river of his Spirit. May these thoughts bless you and keep you. As you pray avail yourself to the spiritual treasures that God in his grace has passed on to us.