The Pentecostal Christian movement in which I was raised seemed to place a premium on spontaneity in worship and in prayer, as opposed to set prayers and forms—more like contemporary jazz, less like a Baroque oratorio. Our God was in the moment, present, praying with us now just as he did in the early Church. So why did I find myself praying a prepared text from 1662 in January 2021?
Maybe because the Anglican Book of Common Prayer of that year has a prayer with the heading, For Restoring Publick Peace at Home. The words were strangely appropriate here in America, following the violence of January 6 and after months of political rancor and violent protests nationwide, in which many lost property, livelihoods, and even their lives. As I write in this winter of our raucous discontent, I take comfort in that 1662 prayer, which reads, in part, like this:
O Eternal God, our heavenly Father, who alone makest men to be of one mind in a house, and stillest the outrage of a violent and unruly people: We bless thy holy Name, that it hath pleased thee to appease the seditious tumults which have been lately raised up amongst us. . . .
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Lance Nixon is a freelance writer based in Pierre, South Dakota, where he attends virtual services of New Life Assembly of God Church and also visits Trinity Episcopal Church virtually. He is also a fiction writer, and his latest stories about the Great Plains appeared in the November 2020 and November 2019 issues of Gray's Sporting Journal.
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