Posted by: davidlarkin | March 19, 2011

A Prayer for the Church Invisible

In a letter to my pastor today, I included a William Barclay prayer for the church. I decided to post it here because in addition to being a comprehensive prayer for a church that needs it, it is a wonderful summary of the needs of the church invisible, the body of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ regardless of human institutional church membership. Embedded within Barclay’s prayer is a Scriptural prescription of the duties and ideal operations of the church, the Body of Christ, in this world — whether acting as human institutions or collectively as individual saints, the “called-out ones” of God.

As I noted in my prior post, I have been working my way through William Barclay’s 1965 book, Prayers for the Christian Year which follows the traditional church liturgical calendar and provides a prayer for each Sunday of the church year. I like Barclay’s work, his commentaries on the New Testament that I have read over the past 40 years, even though he reveals in his New Testament commentaries a lack of belief in the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s and the apostles miracles, other than bodily resurrection of Christ and the rest of us, by giving natural explanations for Jesus’s miracles, e.g., the feeding of the 5,000 was accomplished by the multitude present deciding to share the food that they had brought with them but had selfishly refused to acknowledge to the disciples before they reported to Jesus that the people were hungry and didn’t have food. I have always marveled that the Holy Spirit could bless Barclay with such insight and clarity in his comments on the Scripture while he could not simply believe that the Lord was not limited by 20th Century understandings of the laws of nature that seem to require God’s adherence, even though there could be no laws of nature or science, unless God decreed them. As one contemporary apparently atheist philosopher, Nancy Cartwright, put it in a philosophical paper, laws of nature logically require a law giver, or God. The only alternative as she saw it was the Aristotelian concept of capacities, in other words, there are no laws of nature, only bodies and substances with capacities to act in a certain way, attract each other, repel each other, etc. Her argument begs the question of the source of the capacities, which Cartwright acknowledged by stating she was not going to speculate on the source of the capacities in objects and substances. See Nancy Cartwright’s working paper, No God, No Laws. The logic of the natural philosopher fails or breaks down if the conclusion is the existence of God.

Here is William Barclay’s prayer for the Church on the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, which was seven weeks ago. I have modified it some to acknowledge Jesus’s words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

A Prayer for the Church Invisible

O God, our Father, bless your Church,

Give her such a passion for the souls of men, that she will never be content until all men shall know your love in Jesus Christ. Give her that true sympathy and tolerance for those who are lost and do not know the truth of Jesus Christ and the way of salvation in him alone. Make her adventurous in thought that she may rethink and restate the eternal gospel in terms that men can understand.

Give her such a passion for social justice that she will ever be the conscience of the nation, and that she will engage upon a continuous crusade for everything that will benefit the bodies as well as the souls of men. Give her the conviction that each day is the Lord’s Day, and so grant that she may be involved in every day’s work and not only in one day’s worship.

Give her the adventurous spirit which refuses to be shackled to the past and which finds in tradition, not a deadweight, but an inspiration.

Make her adventurous in action, so that she may not shrink from that which is new, and so that she may not rest content in a comfortable inertia.

Make her a fellowship in which all social and racial distinctions have ceased to exist.

Give her at last that unity in which all barriers are broken down, in which all men can worship together again, and in which the body of Christ will be truly one.

Grant that the Church may be a place where boys and girls find Jesus as their friend; where young men and maidens glimpse the vision splendid; where those in the midtime find a rod and a staff for the dust and the heat of the day; where those far down the vale of years find light at eventide; where the sorrowing find comfort and the weary rest; where the doubting find certainty and the tempted strength; where the lonely find fellowship and the sinner forgiveness for his sins.

Hear this our prayer, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Adapted from William Barclay’s Prayers for the Christian Year

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: