Prayer for the week

The collect and its explanation

Collect

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity – Sunday 23rd September

Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Readings

Benefice Communion: Leviticus 19: 9 – 10, 23 – 25; Galatians 5: 16 – 26; John 15: 1 – 8.
Harvest Festival: Isaiah 54: 7 – 13; Matthew 25: 34 – 40

Explanation

This collect uses words written by St Augustine in 386AD. “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

It is very hard to swim against the tide of consumer desire. Advertising is subtle and fairly constant – buy a new car, gadget, toy. Get stuff in your life which will fill all the holes in your heart, as if our tv fills and satisfies our tv-shaped hole. It appears that people try and put their tv (replace with your own recent want-it) into their God-shaped hole. But our God-shaped hole is infinite. No amount of tvs, no tvs of whatever quality or value, will ever fill it. Only God.

Some critics say that our desire for a god, our inability to satisfy our yearning, is the source of the human creation of the concept of God. I could get a little Anglo Saxon at this point.  

In our reality, thirst points to the existence of water (somewhere – I might not be in the right place to satisfy that thirst). Hunger points to the existence of food somewhere. Sexual desire points to the existence of the possibility of its satisfaction. And so on. Our very yearning for transcendence, for God argues strongly for the One in whom my restless, yearning heart will find its rest. We are creatures who do not find our ultimate fulfilment in this creation.

We might often during the day in our minds repeat Augustine’s phrase and make it our own. Other similar ones might accompany us during the day: “my soul is yearning for you, my God” (Ps 42:1), “O God, you are my God, for you I long” (Ps 63:1),

Such short prayers, “arrow prayers” can be a significant spiritual discipline, a Christian equivalent to a mantra, alongside other disciplines to sanctify the day.