Praying Advent 2 (The Bible Collect)


It’s the second Sunday of Advent, so here’s the second Advent Collect:

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
This week’s Advent prayer is all about the Bible – we pray for ourselves as we come to God’s Word, and we pray for the Word to do its work in us.

1) Scripture is written for us

Our Blessed Lord has ‘caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning’. He inspired the Scriptures for us. That means, when we read the Bible, we’re not doing God a favour. Bible reading is something that we do for God, rather, the giving of the Bible is something God has done for us.

2) There’s a right way and a wrong way to ‘hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them’

We pray the very famous words in this collect that we would ‘hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them’ in a particular way. That means that there’s both a wrong way and right way to approach the Scriptures. The particular way that we’re praying to approach them here is the way by which ‘we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life’. So we’re not just looking to Scripture as great literature, or even as spiritual encouragement. We’re not looking to it as principles for living. But we’re looking to Scripture in the way that leads to eternal life.

But still, that’s not quite clear enough yet to tell us which way is that right way. For Jesus told some who were looking for eternal life in the Scriptures that they were still approaching them in the wrong way. ‘You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.’ (John 5:39-40). The Scriptures won’t lead to eternal life unless we come to Jesus through them. That’s why we pray to the Father that ‘we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.’

3) The Word is necessary

It is by ‘the comfort of [God’s] Holy Word’ that we embrace eternal life in Jesus. And so that means we need God’s Holy Word. We need the Bible, because it proclaims Christ our Saviour to us. We need the Bible because only through the Scriptures do we learn the gospel. We need the Scriptures because they take us to the Saviour.

4) The Saving power of the Scriptures is found in Christ the Incarnate Word

The Word of God has saving power. ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ’ (Rom. 10:17). We are ‘born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever’ (1 Pet. 1:23). But it’s not some sort of magical property of the written down words to zap us into faith and new life. No, it’s Christ, the Incarnate Word, in whom the saving power of the Scriptures is found. The Bible proclaims Jesus and takes us to Jesus and Jesus saves us and gives us new life, eternal life, in Him.

[For the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent, see here.]

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