We find all five parts of the Collets in the prayer this week, however they are a bit out of the usual order.
Do: Look upon us,
To: O God,
Who: Creator and ruler of all things,
Accrue: and, that we may feel the working of your mercy,
Do: grant that we may serve you with all our heart.
Through: 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.
This may seem like an odd thing to say, but there’s power in verbs and the verbs in the Collect for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time are no exception.
Looking at the verbs in the petitions we are asking God to Do, the first verb, look, (respice in Latin) is more than just look at, it means to have regard for, turn attention to.
The second verb, grant, means to allow. Every time I hear the word grant in the prayer, I pay extra attention to what I’m giving God permission to do!
Today we ask God to be mindful of us and and to allow us to serve him with our whole heart. We find this command in Deuteronomy 10:12, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD, your God, ask of you but to fear the LORD, your God, and follow his ways exactly, to love and serve the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul…” By the way, I already have looked up the definition of the word all and it means all.
The next verb in the Do of the prayer, is serve. In Latin the word (servire) means to labor for, to be devoted. It also means to conform. Paul, a perfect example of service, writes in Galatians 2:20, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” Paul didn’t just labor for God’s Kingdom, he chose to give his life in exchange for Christ living in him. He conformed his will into God’s will. Loving and serving God with all our heart and soul sounds like a difficult request from God, however, he gives us the grace that we need to do his will.
What we have to gain, or the Accrue, of the prayer is that we may feel the working of his mercy. The Accrue is a phrase which begins with the word "that". It is a dependent phrase. We cannot feel the working of God’s mercy unless we serve him with all our heart.
Our last verb is feel. This word is getting used in places where it doesn’t mean what it should. For example, “I feel the rug in this room should be bigger.” We can think that, that is an opinion, but it is not something we can feel. In the prayer feel does not mean think. It means to sense or discern by sense and I’ve spent a lot of time asking God for examples.
He reminded me of a time in early spring when I was out for a walk. It had just rained and the sun was coming out. The leaves were still light green and the sparkle of the rays of the sun on the raindrops on the leaves made me stop in my tracks. Only God could paint a picture like that. It was in that moment that I could feel God's presence and his nearness.
That quiet small voice inside you that reassures and guides, only God can speak in that place. That movement during prayer, the kind of thought, or even a breath or a sound, that you know wasn’t from you, that is feeling God’s presence. It is those times that make you want more, but also remind you that those moments are just a gift, and the Giver is who you truly desire.
As I looked for the golden thread that tied the verbs of the prayer together, here’s what I found: renewal of the mind.
In Romans 12:2, Paul tells us that we should “not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
It is true that God will give us the grace to serve him with our whole heart, it is also true that we must make the decision to desire to serve him. The process of renewing your mind is simple. When a thought or desire comes, and you know it’s not from God, take that thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5) and give it to God. In its place, fill it with Scripture or a prayer.
With a mind renewed, always looking for things of Christ, it will become second nature, actually it will become God’s nature in us, to serve him with our whole heart. Sensing his presence will be the confirmation of our service to him.