I used to think that “Let us pray” was just a cue for the server to get the book. I didn’t know that it actually meant to pray - right now - and the priest would collect our prayers and offer them to God with the Collect. Maybe that’s the reason I never really listened to the Collect. As I’ve been out speaking, I have heard from many people who thought the same thing.
I do remember hearing this prayer, though, and it’s become one of my favorites. Thank you for joining me as we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Draw near to your servants, O Lord, and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness, that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide, you may restore what you have created and keep safe what you have restored. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Our prayer this week is a request for God to draw near, to be close at hand to us, and to answer our prayers with unceasing kindness. It’s the next part of the prayer that made me think about what I pray for. It’s easy to pray for things I want, or for family, or for the intentions of other people. Today we also ask for God’s lavish kindness to restore what he has created, namely us.
Scripture tells us that God is the Creator and everything he has created is good. We can look out a window and marvel at God’s creation, but why is it so hard to marvel at the creation of God that we see in a mirror?
Maybe we think that God is tired of hearing us ask. Someone may even think that they’re too far gone and there’s nothing left that God would want or anything that he can fix. We may even try our own refurbish job, hoping to clean ourselves up enough to approach God. It’s all rubbish. If we can trust God with all of our other requests, we must not forget that there is nothing is more dear to his heart that for his beloved creatures (you and me) to return to him just like we are. He’ll take care of the rest.
Today we ask God to restore, not refurbish. To refurbish is to update, or renovate. We ask God, the one who created us, to restore us, to take us to our former state. In the New Testament, the word “restore” is used when Jesus heals an arm and a man’s vision, they are restored. The word is also used in reference to restoring the Kingdom of Heaven.
How can we be restored? We are restored every time we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We are restored when we come to him with a repentant heart, asking for forgiveness and for the grace and strength to help us change.
But the prayer doesn’t stop there! We ask God to keep safe what he has restored. We don’t go it alone. God goes with us. He’s given us the Holy Spirit, and the angels to protect us, and he gives us others who are walking the same path.
The “Accrue” of the prayer is the dependent phrase. Being restored and kept safe isn’t something we can do on our own. Restored and safe depend on asking God to be near and in his kindness, answer our prayer for his help.
This week, as we Lectio the Liturgy: When you make time for prayer, ask God to be close at hand and ask Him what he wants to restore, nor refurbish, in you. Our Creator will restore things to order, back to his purpose, to give him glory.
Thank you for praying with me,