Almighty God, give us the increase of faith, hope, and love; and, that we may obtain what you have promised, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This collect can be found in 7thand 8thcentury books of liturgy as well as in the Sarum Missal of the 11thcentury. Archbishop Cranmer edited the line “that we may deserve to obtain what you promise” to avoid any hint of works righteousness as repudiated by St. Paul. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The brevity of this prayer does not in any way imply its insignificance. We address the LORD as Almighty because He is and therefore willing and able to answer this petition. We pray for an increase of faith, hope and love because Scripture tells us that these are abiding virtues, with love being the greatest.
The prayer orients us toward our ultimate goal, which is “to obtain what you have promised.” Chief among those promises is the hope of everlasting life.
The danger of an emphasis upon grace is that it can drift into antinomianism; the belief that the moral law is of no value. In every day terms it means that I can consider myself a Christian but continue to live as I see fit in my sin. St. Paul confronted this error in Romans 6. Bonheoffer referred to this thinking as “cheap grace” because it mistakenly believes that one can have Jesus as Savior without obeying Him as Lord. And yet Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.”
The collect connects obtaining God’s promises with keeping God’s commandments. But it does so by showing obedience as a fruit of God’s grace and not a cause. It is His grace that causes us to love what He commands and then His commandments become joyful means to an abundant life and not an onerous burden of self-righteousness.
Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your grace that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A version of this collect can be found in the Leonineand Gelasiansacramentaries. The 1549 version reads, “Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service; grant, we beseech thee, that we may so run to thy heavenly promises, that we fail not finally to attain the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The collect has a strong beginning. It is because God is both almighty and merciful that we are benefactors of His grace. He owes us nothing and yet He has given us everything, especially through His Son. It is also true that our works not only begin but also continue by His grace. The prophet Isaiah reminds us of the reality of our good works apart from God. “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.”But works done by God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit become “true and laudable service.”
The collect echoes the biblical analogy of the Christian life being a race. The writer of Hebrews enjoins us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
This prayer goes on to tell us the nature of the prize for which we run. We run “to obtain your heavenly promises.” Such promises stand in stark contrast to earthly promises such as fame or riches or power. The former are eternal in nature while the latter are fleeting at best and at times more of a curse than a blessing. Thus Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The revision of the collect, that changed the final phrasing of the 1549 version, is unfortunate. While it certainly should be our goal to “run without stumbling” (2019), experience would tell us that is a futile hope. Only Jesus has accomplished that goal.
However it is certainly valid to hope to run in such a way that “we fail not finally to attain the same” (1549). While we may not run perfectly, we can ask for grace to help us finish the race. In the meantime, if we stumble or fall? Scripture tells us, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The seeds of this collect are found in the Leonine sacramentarywith revisions appearing in the Gallicanand SarumMissals. It was translated into English in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. It was Proper 22 in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and is appointed for the 9thSunday after Pentecost in the 2019 BCP.
The collect begins by ascribing to God the attributes of omnipotence and eternity. These are excellent qualities to remember when seeking the LORD because they remind us “with God nothing is impossible.”
Immediately after mentioning God’s attributes that fill us with awe, the collect points us to His Fatherly heart. He is “more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire of deserve.” It fills us with hope and points us to Jesus’ statement, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
The petition is for God’s mercy to come to us in abundance. His mercy has a two-fold purpose. It erases our sin by “forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid” and it brings about blessings by “giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask.” God’s goodness and mercy truly do follow us all the days of our life. 
The sense of our unworthiness, combined with the understanding of God as “almighty and everlasting,” could result in our shrinking back from this or any petition. But we are reminded here that we do not come before the throne of grace in our own merit. Jesus Christ appeared before God as both Priest and Sacrifice.He not only offered atonement for our sins but even now He lives to make intercession for us. We are not worthy but He is and that is why we are able to make this bold petition before our Lord.
O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This collect can be traced to a 7thcentury Missal.It was revised by Archbishop Cranmer for the first English Book of Common Prayer. It was appointed as the collect for Proper 21 in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the 8thSunday after Pentecost in the 2019 BCP.
It begins with an astonishing statement. When we think of the almighty power of God our minds go to the creation of all things, the LORD spinning galaxies from His fingertips. We wonder at His power to sustain everything that has life, from microscopic creatures, to all of human kind, to angelic beings. We marvel at His power to bring all things to their appointed ends. When we think of His almighty power we tend to quake. And yet this collect corrects our thinking. It tells us that the almighty power of God is chiefly declared, “in showing mercy and pity.” He uses His power not like the great and terrible Oz, but as a loving heavenly Father to help and to heal. John 3:16 tells us that this collect is exactly right. Thus when we think of a power that matches His love, it causes us to seek refuge in Him. Where else would we find both mercy and pity?
The petition is to receive grace to “…become partakers of your heavenly treasure.” We need this grace because heavenly treasures are not attained by our good works. St. Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
However the collect wisely points out that we are not passive recipients of God’s grace. It gives us the image of “running to obtain your promises.” This imagery reflects the words of Hebrews“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
The Christian life is not a sprint, rather it is a marathon. It is a race, that apart from the grace of God, we would be unable to complete. But with the help of God we will not only finish the race but we will also receive “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
Let your merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of your humble servants; and, that we may receive what we ask, teach us by your Holy Spirit to ask only those things that are pleasing to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the same Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
While this collect is absent from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer it can be found in the 2019, 1928 and 1662 BCP. It was made a beautiful choral piece by Thomas Mudd(1619-1667). Its roots can be found in the Leo Sacramentaryand the Sarum Use.
There is immediacy about this collect, as it does not begin by ascribing an attribute to God, such as, “Lord of all power and might…”It is a direct appeal to His mercy (merciful ears) to hear our prayers. In this context, however, the call for mercy is not the appeal of a felon about to be judged, it is the heartfelt request of a child asking to be shown the Father’s steadfast love.
The collect takes us to the writing of St. James who tells us, “You ask and you do not receive because you ask amiss…”Thus we pray to be taught by the Holy Spirit to pray “only those things that are pleasing to you.”
Three lessons are taught in this prayer. First we are to approach the Lord as “your humble servants.” This was modeled for us on the night before He died, when Jesus approached the Father in humility praying, “Nevertheless not my will but yours be done.”This is in harsh contrast to the televangelist approach of “name it and claim it” or of those who say that we can demand God to answer our prayers. In one such article the author says, “It’s your prayers that allow Him to pour out His Spirit and sweep the earth with the revelation of His glory”If you truly believe that you “allow God” to do anything, then it is time to humble yourself in prayer and fasting. He is the Potter and we are the clay.
A second lesson is that we need to be taught to pray. That is what the disciples asked of Jesus.For His followers today, the best teacher is the Holy Spirit. It helps to read books on prayer but the best way to learn to pray is by praying. The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness. We won’t always do it correctly and we will no doubt occasionally pray amiss. But we are not trying to pass an exam. Rather we are speaking with the One who loves us more than we can ever dream. A father delights in the first coos of his infant. He celebrates the toddler’s first words. He is thrilled when the child begins to form sentences. And he treasures every conversation that he has with his grown kids. To paraphrase Jesus, if we who are evil do this, then imagine how our heavenly Father must delight in even our feeblest attempts at prayer.
The third lesson is that prayer is not the spiritual equivalent of presenting a shopping list. We seek to be mature in our prayers by praying according to His will. Jesus taught this. It is not an accident that we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” before we pray “give us this day our daily bread.” That is why the Book of Common Prayer is such a treasure. These prayers, which have been prayed over the centuries, call us to heights in prayer that go far beyond our natural inclinations. Beyond simply asking the Lord to bless our families, the BCP has us pray, “…bring the nations into thy fold, pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of they kingdom…”Such prayers teach us to pray “only those things that are pleasing” to Him.
Grant us, O Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who can do no good thing apart from you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The gist of this collect can be found in the Leonine Sacramentary. It appeared as the collect for Proper 14 in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and has been transferred to the 6thSunday after Pentecost in the 2019 BCP.
This brief collect encapsulates a central doctrine of the Christian faith. It highlights the role of grace in the life of the believer.
It crushes our human pride to admit, as the collect says, that we “can do no good thing apart from you,” But that is a reality of life as taught by Holy Scripture. Without God we are “dead in our transgressions and sins.”Even with God we are utterly dependent. Jesus said, “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”Thus we entreat God to grant us the spirit to think and do what is right, as well as the power to fulfill it.
Admitting our utter dependence upon the LORD, to even think what is right, does not absolve us of personal responsibility. The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are not mutually exclusive ideas. They are intertwined truths that give us the hope that we will be able to complete the race because He is with us all the way.
After a beautifully poetic call to put on Christ’s humilitySt. Paul writes, “work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”That certainly is a call for human responsibility, but if that it was all that he said then we would be left in fear and trembling. St. Paul continues, “for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”God gives us the will and the power to do what is right and that is how we go about working out our salvation. We are at the same time humbled by our dependence upon Him and confident that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
One of the most obvious ways that the LORD answers our prayers for grace is through Word and Sacrament. It is through the proclamation of God’s Word that we are led to salvation.It is through baptism that we are cleansed from sin.It is through Holy Communion that we are united with Christ.In short, God’s grace is primarily mediated through the Church and that is why we need one another. The Holy Spirit unites us to one another and to Christ in such a way that we are Christ’s Body. Thus when Saul was arresting Christians Jesus asked Him, “Why are you persecuting Me?”Because we are His Body it is most appropriate for us to pray to “think and do always those thing that are right” and to be able “to live according to your will.”
7thcentury liturgical book of prayers to be prayed by the priest
O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and on earth: Put away from us all hurtful things, and give us those things that are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This collect began in the Gelasian sacramentaryand was in included in the Sarum Riteand the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. It was the collect for Proper 4 in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and has been transferred to the 5thSunday after Pentecost in the 2019 BCP. The beginning of the original collect is translated as “O God, whose providence is infallible in ordering that which is proper for itself.”
The theology of this collect is one of the most comforting doctrines of the Christian faith. It is the belief that “this is our Father’s world and that the affairs of men and nations, in the final analysis, are in His hands.”It is rooted in a text from Romans.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.”
It is very important to distinguish this belief from wishful thinking, superstitions and false doctrines. First we must note that the text does not say that all things that happen to us are good. Rather as Lord of all, He is able to turn even what was meant as evil to ultimately work for our good. A classic example of this is seen in the life of Joseph. His brothers, out of jealousy, faked his death and sold him into slavery in Egypt. While a slave he was falsely accused and imprisoned. No one could think that any of those events were good.
But God in His sovereignty exalted Joseph to be second in command in all of Egypt and save a civilization from starvation. When finally reunited with his brothers, rather than receiving Joseph’s wrath, he pointed then to God’s providence. He said “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
The central point to the doctrine of providence is that if you a child of God, then your heavenly Father wills ultimate good for you. And in His might He will see that good prevails. This is not karma, which is a supposed impersonal law of the universe. This is not the new age idea of sending good thoughts into the universe so that good returns. This is not an Osteenian approach of confessing health and wealth until you have them. This is a very personal engagement in your life by a loving heavenly Father to see that all things in the end work for your good.
How God is able to make all things work for our good, or why God allows bad things to happen in the first place, remains a mystery. But we don’t have to understand it to live and celebrate this truth. If you live long enough you will have things that happen in your life that you would not wish on your worst enemy. And yet those things became part of what makes you the person that you are today. You will make yourself mad if you try to figure it all out, but you will have no greater peace than to rest in this truth. So enter the room called “providence” and shut the door behind you.
Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Variations of this collect can be found in the Gelasian and Gregorian sacramentariesas well as in the Sarum missal.It is the collect for Proper 17 in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer but has been transferred to the 4thSunday after Pentecost in the 2019 BCP.
The invocation is bold and direct. It ascribes to God “all power and might.” Then adds, “the author and giver of all good things.” These truths together leave the petitioner with no doubt that God is both able because of His power, and willing because of His goodness, to answer this prayer. This teaches us that we pray in faith, not by summoning up our own wills, but by recognizing who God is and trusting in Him to be true to Himself.
One way to view this collect is that it is one petition, followed by three sub petitions, which serve to fulfill the first. In other words we pray for the Lord to “Graft in our hearts the love of your Name” by increasing true religion, nourishing us in goodness and bringing forth the fruit of good works. Such a layered petition deserves further investigation.
First it is noted that we invoke God to graft His love into our hearts. This is so because our love for God is not something that we manufacture. Rather it is a consequence or response to His initiating love. St. John writes, “We love because He first loved us.”When we add that we have done absolutely nothing to deserve this love, then His grace becomes all the more amazing.
One way that the Lord will graft love for His Name in our hearts is by increasing “in us true religion.” It is likely that Archbishop Cramner added the word “true” before “religion” because of the contemporary controversies of the Reformation. It is certain that false religion promotes fear and condemnation rather than the love of God, therefore the word “true” an important addition.
While true religion begins at right belief it does not end there. St. James reminds us, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.”Beyond right belief we must be transformed from within (“nourish us with all goodness”) and zealous for good works(“bring forth in us the fruit of good works”).
These last two petitions are all the more important in our present age. People today declare that they have true religion while brashly demanding that God accept them as they are in their sinfulness, while others say that they have true religion but selfishly hold it like an insurance policy with no concern for the needs of others. True religion calls us to works within and without, to holiness and service. Both of these qualities were perfectly modeled by Jesus. He who was without sin ate with sinners to liberate them from their sin.
The overall language of the collect is from the world of agriculture. The images of grafting, nourishing and bringing forth fruit gives us the perspective of the farmer. The farmer is utterly dependent upon the Lord for everything; from providing the seed, to sending the rain to bringing forth the harvest. Such dependence is done in quiet confidence because, as professed at the beginning of the collect, He is “Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things.”
“If our love were but more faithful, we should take him at his word; our life would be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord.”
O Lord, from whom all good proceeds: Grant us the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may always think those things that are good, and by your merciful guidance may accomplish the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This collect has its roots in the Gelasian and Gregorian sacramentaries.The 2019 BCP makes an improvement over the 1979 version by specifically asking the Father for the Holy Spirit to be our source of inspiration. With the prayer being offered “through Jesus Christ our Lord” it is thoroughly Trinitarian in nature.
The opening attestation, “from whom all good proceeds,” calls to mind a passage from James. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”In these days of pandemic, social unrest and economic uncertainty it is refreshing to be reminded of the goodness of God. The news and social media would have us believe that the sky is falling. And perhaps it is, but even so Holy Scripture says “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”We have been accepted in the Beloved, the Kingdom is not in trouble and so we joyfully proclaim, “God is good, all the time!”“Therefore, since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us be filled with gratitude, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” 
The body of the collect encapsulates the truth that the will to do what is right, and the power to accomplish it, both come from the work of the Holy Spirit. It is all too easy to miss this reality. At times through rebelliousness and at other times through naiveté we strike out on our own like the toddler who says “I can do it myself.” How many times do we hear the infuriating question, “Have you prayed about it?” And of course the question is infuriating because we have failed to do so.
The Holy Spirit, in His “merciful guidance,” calls us back to trust and dependence. He grants us the will and the way to obey Jesus’ command, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bare fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”
Books of liturgy from the 8thand 10thcenturies respectively
Grant, O Lord, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by your providence, that your Church may joyfully serve you in quiet confidence and godly peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This collect has been transferred to the Second Week after Pentecost in the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. It replaces a collect from the 1979 BCPthat in turn replaced a collect of the 1928 and 1662 BCP.(Both of these collects are in the footnotes).
While this collect seems virtuous at first blush, it does not come from a biblical worldview. As a result it is more wishful thinking than good theology. Written at the time of the barbarian invasions, it is a foxhole prayer that falls short.
Its first error is that it implies that the ability of the Church to “joyfully serve in quiet confidence and godly peace” is dependent upon this world being “peaceably ordered by your providence” What would be the vehicle for this peace to come to the world? Politics? Science? Education? The true vehicle for peace is the gospel of the Kingdom. Thus rather than praying for peace, so that the Church can do her job, we need to pray for the Church to do her job, so that the world can know peace.
Jesus was quite clear about the contrast between Himself and the world. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer,I have overcome the world.”St. Paul would not have ordered the Church to “put on the whole armor of God”if she was going to fulfill her mission in the context of a peaceful world. It would be nice but that is not reality. Reality is that nearly twice the number of Christians were martyred last century than in all the previous centuries combined. Again, the Church’s role is to make this a peaceful world by working and praying for the Kingdom to come in its fullness.
This leads to the second error of this collect. Jesus did not promise His disciples a life of “quiet confidence and godly peace.” He did not give such false assurances. Jesus, as a Southern expression goes, put the skunk on the table. He said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”Jesus promises a cross not a rose garden.
A more biblically accurate collect from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer says, “Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.”
St. James corrects us. “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”While it would be wonderful for the Church to go about her business in a peaceful world, such a naïve hope is focused more for our comfort than on the glory of God. The Church would do well to return to the former collects for this Sunday that are far more biblically sound.
O God, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth: We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 1979 BCP p.177
O GOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 1928 BCP p.188,189