The Collect for Proper 10:  The Sunday closest to July 13

O Lord,
mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you,
and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(BCP 231)

Marion Hatchett notes that this Collect has been prayed at various times within the Church Year.  Since its earliest appearance in liturgical texts in the seventh century, this Collect has been prayed on a Sunday after Christmas, on the first Sunday after the Epiphany (January 6), and in the 11th-century Sarum missal on the Sunday after the octave of the Epiphany (an octave is an eight-day celebration of a feast).  With the first English Book of Common Prayer (1549), the octave of the Epiphany was discontinued and this Collect was moved back to the Sunday after the Epiphany.  In our present Book of Common Prayer, because we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord on the Sunday after the Epiphany, this Collect was moved to Proper 10.  Hatchett states that this Collect “summarizes succinctly the two-fold meaning and purpose of prayer:  to perceive God’s will, and to seek the strength which is necessary for the accomplishment of it” (Hatchett, 188-9).  A second two-fold dimension of prayer, slightly different in nature from Hatchett’s description, is also present in this Collect—that prayer is a conversation; and in all good conversations, all participants both speak and actively listen.

As seen in the Collects for Proper 6 and Proper 7, the Preamble, “O Lord,” can have two different nuances.  Because we begin this Collect with this same Preamble, we are again invited to ponder what it means to begin our prayer addressing God as Lord:  does the rest of the Collect focus on God as the Lord who is our Sovereign or as God who has revealed God’s divine name (LORD)?  Perhaps taking both into account makes sense for this Collect:  we pray to our God who is sovereign and yet is the God who has revealed God’s self to those whom God loves.

While this Collect doesn’t have an Acknowledgement, the use of “mercifully” in the Petition serves in the same capacity—we ask our Sovereign who is our judge to remember that we are God’s creatures and beloved children and to be merciful to us.  We begin our confession in Morning and Evening Prayer and Rite II Eucharist (BCP 116, 360) addressing God as “Most merciful God.”  In the confession used in Enriching our Worship, the address is “God of all mercy.” 

The Petition can be broken into three parts, each of which depends upon God’s mercy. 

In the first part of the Petition, we ask God to “receive the prayers of your people who call upon you,” an echo of Psalm 143:1 and many other portions of the Psalms where the Psalmist asks God to listen.  How audacious that the first movement of this prayer is to begin with asking the Lord to listen to us!  And yet, relationship has already been established and our prayers are not the beginning of the conversation—the people who we ask to be heard (which, by the way, includes us) are God’s people and they know God well enough to call upon God. 

In the second part of the Petition, “and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do,” asks for grace for our part of the active listening that solid relationships are built upon.  To listen well is to not just hear the words spoken and interpret the non-verbal communications that accompany the conversation, but to seek to understand.  This portion of the Petition is also the first half of Hatchett’s two-fold meaning of prayer:  to perceive God’s will.  To listen well, with the intention of understanding and discerning what needs to be done, is not something that we do in our own strength.  We need God’s assistance and empowerment to hear, understand, and discern action.

In the third part of the Petition, “and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them,” we are completing Hatchett’s two-fold meaning of prayer:  we ask for strength so that we can embody what we are called to do.  In this way, our conversation with God bears fruit in our lives.  As God’s people, the Body of Christ, doing God’s will is how we know that we are Christ’s family (see Mark 3:31-35). 

The Pleading is “through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”  Through Jesus Christ, who is not only our Lord but also the brother to all who do God’s will, by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we ask for a deepening relationship with our Triune God through our listening and responding to the God who hears us.

Have you experienced prayer in different ways since the last time we prayed this Collect?  How has listening to God and our experience of God listening to us, as a parish, as a diocese, and as the Episcopal Church, changed during this time?

When have we, as a parish, diocese, or denomination, experienced God’s grace and power in our worship or ministry?  

O Lord,
mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you,
and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

© 2022 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick
The citations from Marion Hatchett are from his Commentary on the American Prayer Book, HarperOne, 1995
Quotations and page references to The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) are from the 1979 standard edition.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

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