My lament for the Bride has arisen as two streams converge–the stream of news events showing how split and contentious the church (and society) is over the issue of homosexuality, and the stream of prayers which I use every day in praying for the church. When these two things converged, my heart began to break.
Today, I want to invite you into my prayer closet and let you hear a few of the prayers that set my lament in motion. For some time, I have used prayers from The Book of Common Prayer to guide my daily prayers, and this classical prayer book has led me to pray along the lines of these illustrations…
“For all who fear God, and believe in you, Lord Christ, that our divisions may cease, and that all may be one as you, and the Father, are one…” (p. 390).
“Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord…” (p. 818)
My lament began as I realized how often I pray without allowing the prayers to “come alive” in me. Words remain on the level of words, even when they are words I believe. But incarnation is our model–the Word becoming flesh. And so with prayer. Until then, we have not prayed fully.
The Bride’s gown is torn, at least in part, because we pray the right prayers without living them. So, I continue to pray…
“Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your Name may be united in your truth, live together in love, and reveal your glory in the world…” (p. 388).
“Build up your Church and glorify your Name…” (p. 549).
The way of love emerges from prayer; that is, realizing afresh what we have been saying, and offering ourselves to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), so that the written prayers might become living prayers–for the sake of the Bride.