Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Collect - Trinity 10

From the Tridentine Missal
Pateant aures misericordiae tuae, Domine, precibus supplicantium: et, ut petentibus desiderata concedas; fac eos, quae tibi sunt placita, postulare.

From The 1549 prayer book
LET thy merciful eares, O Lord, be open to the praiers of thy humble servauntes; and that they may obteine their peticions, make them to aske suche thinges as shal please thee; Through Jesus Christe our Lorde.

Cranmer translates the Collect from the Gelasian Sacramentary which appears as the Collect for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost. This notable collect has been set to music by the Tudor composers Thomas Weelkes and Thomas Mudd.

According to the collect, we can only guarantee that our prayers will be answered if we only pray the prayers that God wants us to pray. This means that if we pray for a brand new Cadillac, a lottery win, or a giant ice-cream sundae, we're 100% guaranteed that we won't get it. Why not? Well, God doesn't want us to have a new car, lot of money, or indigestion, does he?

But does this mean that when we pray for our friend to be relieved of some painful or even terminal illness, and nothing happens, does this mean that God doesn't want our friend to get better? Does it not please Him to relieve our suffering? Do what we want, what we care about, mean nothing to of God?
It is here that we begin to walk into the unknown regions in trying to know the mind of God. But listen to Him through Jeremiah: "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer xxix.11) We can rest assured that He wants only our good.

However, this Collect is telling us something more than just how God gets around to answering prayer. We are being invited to pray for and to seek the things that please God, things that will not only please Him, but give us joy and pleasure as well. Our true happiness can be found only in the pleasure of God, and this excludes no-one. In the pleasure of God, all our illnesses, fears, troubles and sins pale into insignificance, even though they might not be removed. It is when we want what God wants that we find ourselves closest to Him, and surely that is true happiness.

------------------------Jonathan Munn

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