Sunday, March 25, 2012

"You Can Count on Me" ~Urgent Prayer Request!

You Can Count On Me

“Create in me a clean heart, O God”

~Psalm 51:11a

OK class, what are the seven principal forms of prayer according to our catechism?

Can you name them without peeking? Which can you name and which did you have to look up or learn? I've been running an informal survey during most of my ministry and I've discovered that we are least likely to remember "oblation" as a primary form of prayer, yet I believe it is the most critical to our own soul's health.

I. Adoration

II. Praise

III. Thanksgiving

IV. Penitence

V. Oblation

VI. Intercession

VII. Petiton

If we were to name these “principal kinds of prayer” we might notice that the last mentioned, often forgotten, yet most necessary of prayer kinds is the prayer of oblation. The Catechism (see below) defines oblation as an offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God.

To put that in another kind of way; it is a prayer that says; “You can count on me to do whatever has to be done. God, you can count on me!”

This is the essential prayer of any serious churchman, woman and child. You need a Senior or Junior Warden, you can count on me. Treasurer, Vestry, Usher, Altar Guild? I’m reporting for duty front and center. Choir, Acolyte, Verger, Sunday School teacher, here I am Lord, send me.

This is the most satisfying of prayers it seems to me because it takes the focus off my need, and places it on God’s will. What does God need to be done in and for the sake of this world?

Feed the hungry? House the homeless? Reconcile intractable enemies? Bring hope to the sin sick, forlorn and grief stricken? Bring peace where there is war?

The older I get the more I believe in the centrality of prayer as well as its efficacy in life. This is the vehicle God uses to write the Law within our hearts as is noted in today’s Old Testament Lesson. This is also the vehicle God uses to become Present to us.

Notice the prayer of Jesus in today’s Gospel; “Now is my soul troubled”. It is a profoundly honest and human cry; in recognition of the hour that is at hand. No more are there the crowds, the healings, the teachings, the gatherings by the hillsides where bread in baskets is distributed to the multitudes with abundance and generous love. No, now comes the time when the Son of Man is to be lifted up for all the world to see. It will be an excruciatingly painful experience. What then shall he pray? “Save me from this hour? No, it is for this purpose that I have come to this hour”, he tells us.

Prayer was central to Jesus’ life. That is clear from the record. But notice its efficacy. No sooner had Jesus proclaimed his disquietude, and his purpose in facing the hour that the Voice came from Heaven.

Now I ask you, just where is heaven? Is it up there or out there? Or rather is it in here? Notice the language of of the Gospel passage. As Jesus pleads for the glorification of his Name, God speaks by way of assurance to tell him; “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

So thunderous was the proclamation that the crowd heard it. But where did the voice come from? Most Western Renaissance art pictures God with magnificent light in the clouds, or in somewhat super-human form with outstretched hand reaching out to Adam. I suggest that this imagery may be somewhat misleading.

I am more and more convinced that God’s voice comes from within and speaks without words in our hearts. The experience we have of Jesus is an experience of exquisite agony. And yet the experience is also of a Blessed Assurance that what is about to happen is indeed for a purpose. This is because when Jesus is lifted up for all the world to see, all humankind will find themselves drawn to him.

This single grain that is about to die will bear much fruit. It is a life lived with such single minded purposefulness that its utter focus is on the love of all humanity, for the healing of its hurts, the forgiveness of its sins, and the reconciliation of its warring enemies.

He refuses to live for himself or by himself. This is a Man for Others as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it. So if we are to serve Him we must follow Him in the way that leads toward eternal life. By the way, this is not a bad way to live at all. It wells up within toward joy, to be of such a mind as the mind of Christ.

So then there is the Judgment of this world by the Prince of Peace. The Ruler of this world will be cast out much like we noted the serpents were dispatched by Moses and Patrick last week. The Ruler of this world is enamored of Power And in case you hadn’t noticed by way of the current Recession, the Ruler of this world is enamored of Greed. Power and Greed brings its own Judgment within its own self destructive inevitability.

But this is not what Jesus was sent into the world to bring. The World is its own Judgment. He was sent to be lifted up for all the world to see. The Son of Man, The Son of God, he will not bruise a single reed. He will never take a life, but rather give his life as a ransom for many.

This is why I pray. Like the Greeks who came to Phillip, I will join with them to say; “Sir, I wish to see Jesus”. The elevation of the host is one way to look at Jesus’s sacramental Presence among us. Another way is to look into the faces of those who have gathered here around you. We are now the evidence that Jesus lives. If that isn’t a sobering thought!

So here you are folks, Fr. Paul, reporting for duty. We’ve got a lot of work to do over the next week or so to set forth the Praise and Love of God and of God’s People. So lets get on with it.

Won’t you pray with me today and every day?

You can count on me!

In the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Catechism

Page 855, 6 in the Book of Common Prayer.


What are the principle kinds of prayer?


The principle kinds of prayer are adoration, praise,

thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession, and



What is adoration?


Adoration is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God,

asking nothing but to enjoy God's presence.


Why do we praise God?


We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because

God's Being draws praise from us.


For what do we offer thanksgiving?


Thanksgiving is offered to God for all the blessings of

this life, for our redemption, and for whatever draws us

closer to God.


What is penitence?


In penitence, we confess our sins and make restitution

where possible, with the intention to amend our lives.


What is prayer of oblation?


Oblation is an offering of ourselves, our lives and

labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God.


What are intercession and petition?


Intercession brings before God the needs of others; in

petition, we present our own needs, that God's will may

be done.

No comments: