Mostly stuff on Christianity by an Anglican priest who reads a lot of C. S. Lewis.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Prayers by Bishops for Bishops

The Rt. Rev. William Meade, Bishop of Virginia
From the Memoir of the Life of Bishop Meade regarding an agreement made among the bishops convened in 1838 for the consecration of Bishop Leonidas Polk:

Among the private devotional exercises of Bishop Meade, the following prayer and superscription are found in his own handwriting:

"The following is the joint composition of Bishop Otey and myself, the result of an agreement between Bishops McIlvaine, Otey, Polk and myself, to pray specially for each other every Sabbath morning:

"O God, who art pleased not merely to receive the intercessions of thy son Jesus Christ in behalf of Thy poor sinful creatures, but dost command them to pray one for another, and promise that the effectual fervant prayer of the righteous shall much avail, favorably regard the prayers of Thy servants for themselves and each other, which we desire to offer up, trusting that our great Advocate will intercede mightily for us with Thee.

"And oh, that the Holy Spirit may intercede within us, with groanings not to be uttered, making us all deeply to feel our corruptions and weaknesses, and earnestly to desire what we pray for, assured that none but God can help us.  O that we may come unto God with strong faith, verily believing, that He will reward those who diligently seek Him through His Son, asking his best spiritual gifts.

"O God!  who knowest our needs, Thou knowest that ours is no common office, but the highest in Thy glorious Church on earth, and that the honor of Thy Son, and the salvation of immortal souls are connected with it.  O why didst Thou put such a trust into such unworthy and feeble hands, and expose such great interests to such imminent hazard.  Were it not enough that we have to answer for our own souls, and run the fearful risk of their eternal perdition?  Must we in some degree be accountable for others also, and for such numbers too?  And oh! awful thought, must we be responsible to Heaven not merely for our little flock given to us to tend, but, in a measure, for all those numerous ones scattered over the hills and valleys which we are appointed to survey, and not merely for our ministry, but for the ministers of those over whom Thou has placed us, giving us the oversight thereof.  Great God! who is sufficient for this?  Which of us can be saved?  O God!  Thou must have great compassion on us, and deal very gently with us, and remember the infirmities whereof we are made - that we are only earthen vessels - weak things, and foolish things which Thou hast chosen to magnify, that in them Thou mightest show to the world that the work is Thine, and Thine the glory.

"But still, O Lord, we cannot but tremble at the thought of the work we have undertaken, and sometimes greatly to fear, that though we have solemnly declared that we believed Thy Spirit called us to it, it was our own foolish vanity which led us to do it.  But it is now too late to draw back, for that would be to our own perdition.  The most solemn vows are upon us to do all that in us lieth, to fulfil the great duties of our office, and to whom shall we go but to Thee for strength to perform them?  O God!  If there be any upon this earth who need a double portion to enlighten, to sanctify, to strengthen and to comfort them, are not we the very persons?  And hast Thou not promised grace according to our day, and that Thou wilt not put on man more than Thou wilt make him able to bear?  O, then, unto us be the spirit of Thy servant Moses, ruler over the Jews, yet meek above all men - the spirit of Joshua, fearless of man, and trusting in the Lord - the spirit of David, man after Thine own heart, full of holy zeal and deep contrition - the spirit of Abraham, interceding for the cities of the plain - the spirit of the Apostles, and Prophets, and Martyrs, and holy men of God in every age.  Above all, oh! for the heart, the tender heart of the holy Jesus weeping over the city of God, and making ready to die for sinful man!"

So far, Bishop Meade; the following is Bishop Otey's:

"Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully hear and graciously answer the prayers which Thy servants have covenanted to offer for each other at this time, through the intercession of Thy dear Son.  Grant, oh Lord, that we may never lose sight of the weighty responsibility resting upon us.  May we ever realize an abiding and deep sense of the value of souls, and never relax our exertions to win them to Christ.  May we always have such views of the dreadful nature and danger of sin, and be so affected with the love of Christ in dying for sinners, that we may esteem no toil too great, no hardship too severe to endure, in warning the ungodly, in reclaiming the erring, that they may be saved through Christ Jesus.  Be with us in all our journeyings, protect us in all our dangers, assist us in all our difficulties, support us under all our trials; enlighten our understandings with heavenly wisdom, establish our hearts with grace, and so replenish us with the truth of Thy doctrine, and adorn us with innocency of life, that, by word and deed, we may faithfully serve before Thee, to the glory of Thy name, and to the edifying and well governing of Thy Church and people.

"Bless us in all our labors this day, and grant that we may rejoice in every opportunity of spreading abroad the truth of Thy gospel, and proclaiming the glad tidings of reconciliation with Thee.  Bless Thy ministers and people everywhere, and grant that "Thy ways may be known upon earth, and Thy saving health among all nations."

"Hear us in these our prayers, answer us as shall be most expedient for us, and grant us all needful blessings, according to Thy will in Christ Jesus our Saviour, to whom, with Thee, O Father, and Thee, O Holy Ghost, be glory everlasting.  Amen."

Memoir, pp. 237-239.


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