I want to share with you a wise and biblical prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. It communicates three things at the same time: a concise Biblical theology, a springboard for your own extemporaneous prayers, and a prayer you can pray from the heart. The prayer helps you to remember who the Triune God is, to remember a simple but important thing He has done for you, to remember five wise things to pray for the rest of the day, and finally, to remember the basis on which you can pray to the Lord with familiarity and confidence. Here is the prayer.
“O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought us to the beginning of this day; defend us this day with Your mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings may be ordered by Your governance, to do always that is righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (adapted from 1662 BCP)
First, the prayer reminds you of how to speak to the Triune God.
In our extemporaneous prayers, we tend to drift into one way of referring to God. Not only can this lead to a staleness in your prayer life, but it can also lead to you forgetting important attributes of the Triune God. In this prayer, you are reminded that He alone is Lord; He is your heavenly Father; He alone is almighty; and that He alone is everlasting God.
Addressing the Triune God as almighty and everlasting is important. You need to be reminded that He is big and everything else is small. The world, the flesh and the devil are forever coaxing you to see the living God as small and distant and everything else as big and close. This prayer reminds you that the Lord is not just almighty and everlasting, He is also your heavenly Father. You will spend the day in His world, as His child, with Him as your Father delighting in your prayer to Him.
Second, the prayer reminds you of an important truth—the Lord has brought you safely to the beginning of this day.
If you are at all like me, it is easy to forget to “count your blessings, name them one-by-one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” The prayer trains you to be thankful for this simple blessing from His hand. The prayer also prepares you to see the day as something given to you by the Lord as a gift. He has given you this day to bring Him glory, making a godly difference for Him.
Third, the prayer briefly summarizes five wise things to pray for the day ahead.
One, ask the Lord to defend you with His mighty power. I could go on and on just on this point. You can see how the prayer is both a concise theology and springboard to prayer! This request is the path to godly courage. Two, ask the Lord to help you not “fall into” sin. Sin whispers to you that it will make you big and strong. But the reality is that sin is something you fall into – you are “lower”, weaker, “in a deep hole” when you sin. Three, ask the Lord to help you not run into danger. Note, this prayer does not leach away courage but complements courage. It is not a sign of courage to needlessly run into danger.
Running into danger is a sign of pride, presumption and carelessness. Four, ask the Lord to be the one who “orders” or governs or organizes your day. You have stuff to do this day, whether in work or leisure, duty or necessity. If the Lord is your almighty, everlasting, heavenly Father, then it is wise to ask Him to order your day. Finally, you have already asked for help to not fall into sin, now ask that everything you do be righteous in the sight of the Triune God. Note: not righteous in your eyes, or the eyes of Canadians, but righteous in the sight of the almighty everlasting Triune God.
Finally, the prayer reminds you through whom you live. Every human being who is apart from the Lord Jesus Christ is dead. (Ephesians 2:1-10) This includes you and me. Before I received Jesus as my Saviour and Lord, I was dead. So it is good to pray being mindful that you live through the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot be reminded of this too often.
Friends, begin your day with wise and honest prayer. Do not be embarrassed to be helped by a wise old prayer like this (it is from the mid-1500s!). Please pray for me!