Brethren, Let us pray...
The Third Sunday in Lent
We beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle: Ephesians 5.1-14 Gospel: St Luke 11.14-28
The verb, “to beseech”, is more appropriate than the verb, “to ask”, when addressing Almighty God, our Creator and Judge, because it presents us as his loyal subjects and servants. After all he is the King of all kings and Head of all presidents and we speak in this prayer of “thy Majesty”.
Before praying this prayer we need to be spiritually prepared to address God. We call ourselves “thy humble servants” and humility is not a normal characteristic of our souls. It comes after due self-examination and penitence before God. Further “hearty desires” (praying with earnestness, fervour and sincerity) only arise when we are bowed before God in the right spirit.
The petition is for the omnipotent Lord God to defend us against all our enemies. While this always has reference to some human enemies, it also covers the spiritual enemies (Satan and his assistants – Ephesians 6:12) who seek to damage our covenantal relation of grace with God the Father through Jesus Christ. “The right hand of thy Majesty” echoes various petitions in the Psalter (see Psalm 138:7 & 74:10-11); but, it also refers to the One who is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is One with the Father; and it is, of course, in the Name of this same Jesus that we pray, for he is our Mediator before God the Father Almighty.
Let us in Lent celebrate the power of God to bring us into his kingdom of grace and save us from our enemies. “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy…Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them” (Exodus 15:6,12). As this Collect is fulfilled in us we shall walk in love (Ephesians 5: 1-14) and we shall be preserved from Satan and Beelzebul (Luke 11:14-28).
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge