Why I like an Anglican prayer-book service
On a Sunday we enjoy a prayer-book service where we collectively recite prayers that were first written at the height of the Reformation in 1549. The Reformation was a religious movement that resulted in a break away from worship of the Roman Catholic Church into a theology of justification by grace alone through faith alone.
The Book of Common Prayer was compiled by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer so that it retained the old forms of the Catholic Mass but had added throughout the theology of grace based on a Scriptural foundation. The Archbishop was also the architect of the Reformation in England.
I came from a theology that denied the power of grace. I had believed that grace was only extended if I had worked hard enough, long enough and well enough and that I believed in a theology conceived by a nineteenth century doctor. Only belief in his interpretations of Scripture would give me the chance of a place in a heavenly kingdom on earth.
Realising we are sinners and we can only be saved by the cross of Jesus Christ was a life-saving distinctive for me. There was no comfort in my feeble efforts but there is eternal comfort and joy in the fact that Jesus did what I couldn’t do.
While there are special prayers set aside for every week, here is one from the Sunday before Easter:
“Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Every word of this prayer is based on the Bible and every word speaks of the gospel of grace by bringing the work of Christ for us on the cross and of the incarnation to our minds. It reminds us to follow his great example of humility and patience – our life of service to be based on our gratitude.
While I paid a heavy price for grasping hold of grace from my Master, it is a price I would willingly pay over and over. When I say the prayers and look around at all my fellow Christians reciting the same prayers heartfully, I know and appreciate that I am not the only one who would be prepared to lose all in the service of our Saviour and King.