Wednesday, January 27, 2016

D. Broughton Knox on Contextualization and the Desire to Be Liked

Someone on facebook tonight insightfully said, "The church is crippled by the desire to be liked." This "desire to be liked" leads to that dreaded word, "contextualization," and then to a lack of faithfulness. What we need in the church, it seems to me, is to reclaim law and gospel preaching. The law exposes sin and threatens judgment, and the gospel when believed removes condemnation and gives God's favor.
Here is one of my favorite Australian authors, who is sadly not well known in the US, D. Broughton Knox, on this subject:

"A gospel which contains judgement as a prominent strand as does the New Testament gospel, is relevant to men and women everywhere and in every age and culture. It does not need indigenization [that is, contextualization], so popular a catchword today, but requires only clarity of language and faithfulness in proclamation. The sense of right and wrong is universal in the human race and so is the knowledge that we fall below our own standards of what is right, and that this entails death.

"Thus the gospel that contains judgement, and salvation from judgement, is a gospel that is always relevant to the hearer, no matter to what stage of civilization he may have attained. Such a gospel does not need to be assimilated to the culture of the people who are hearing it.

"A theology that proclaims the God who saves from judgement by forgiveness through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ does not need to be adapted for Australian audiences, or to be turned into a black theology for the blacks of North America. Asian Christians and Western Christians need the same gospel and the same theology which is based on it, and all are able to understand it, no matter how different the cultural backgrounds of the hearers and preachers may be, so long as the proclamation is true to the New Testament gospel of judgement and salvation from judgement."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Good Preaching and Bad Singing?

"Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, 'When you pray, say' . . . ." (Luke 11:1-2)

Worship that is pleasing to God must be revealed to us.  The Lord's people have never been allowed to worship as they thought best.  The Lord has always defined acceptable worship for us.

We cannot worship God apart from prayer, so it is not surprising then that God the Son will authoritatively teach his people how to pray acceptably.  John the Baptist, who as the last prophet of the old covenant was given the honor of preparing the way for the Christ and pointing to him, authoritatively taught his disciples how to pray (v. 1).  So how much more authoritatively will the Christ himself teach his people how to pray! (v. 2).

If you went to most Evangelical and Reformed worship services today, one would be tempted to conclude that music is a fundamental element in a worship service, even though Jesus taught us nothing about singing, and is only once recorded as singing with his disciples, and that on the night before his death.  The same lack of singing as a main element in worship is seen in Luke's second volume, Acts.  Nothing is mentioned in Acts about the place of music in the Christian liturgy.

Where then does singing fit into the table fellowship pattern that Jesus gave us for Christian liturgy?  The answer is prayer.  Congregational singing fits into the category of prayer.  Jesus ministers to us through Word and meal, and then we respond to his ministry in believing prayer, and sometimes our prayers are accompanied by music.

But prayer is a broad category!  Prayer includes thanksgiving, praise, petition, lament, confession, teaching[i] and exhortation,[ii] etcetera.  And prayer, as we see in Luke 11:1-2, is to be biblical according to the rule Jesus gives for it.  We cannot pray anyway we please, just as we cannot worship anyway we please!

Should this inhibit our prayers?  After all, we are children of our heavenly Father, and we often do not know how to pray as we ought!  No, we can and should honestly cry out to our Father with our needs. 

But at the same time, especially in our worship services together, we should pray according to the pattern Jesus gave us, and this includes what we pray in song.  In the four references to singing in the New Testament epistles, singing is twice associated with the teaching/instruction, and three times with prayer (Colossians 3:16 and James 5:13 is associated with prayer; Ephesians 5:19 is associated with teaching; 1 Corinthians 14:13-26 is associated with both prayer and teaching).  This suggests that especially in our worship services we need to take care that what we sing is biblical!  Teaching a false theology through our singing can do as much harm as teaching falsehood through the pulpit!  Our prayers in song must edify the church, but edification will not come through unbiblical and false teaching.  Therefore, let us pay close attention to what Jesus teaches us about acceptable prayer. 
May our worship together not be marred by congregational singing/prayer that is unbiblical and unacceptable to our Lord.[iii]  Lord Jesus, give us discernment.  Amen.

[i] All prayer contains the element of teaching (e.g., our Lord's prayers and the Psalms are prayers that teach us theology).  Prayer inevitably teaches us a view of God and man.  Therefore, we must strive to pray/sing biblically as Jesus taught us.   
[ii] Sometimes in our songs we sing the Word of God to one another. The question then arises, should we categorize such a song as Word or prayer?  In other words, Is God speaking to us or are we speaking to Him or one another?  This is a difficult question, but overall, I think it is solved by remembering that prayer sometimes includes teaching, and inevitably teaches.  Thus, Paul teaches that prayer should edify the congregation, and this means that we must strive to be just as faithful in our prayers as we are in our preaching and teaching.  Churches today that would never tolerate bad theology in the pulpit regularly tolerate it in the songs they sing!
[iii] While we must strive to pray and preach biblically, we will fall short in some ways. We must remember that our worship is mediated through Jesus Christ, the perfect worshipper, so that our worship is accepted by the Father. But let us not use justification as an excuse to not strive to be faithful!

Luke 11:1-13: The Place of Prayer in the Liturgy

One commentator on this passage says that "it is not directly related to what precedes or follows."  I could not disagree more.  Luke 11:1-13 is part of a larger stratum in Luke's Gospel dealing with Jesus' authority.  Douglas McComiskey has shown that starting with Luke 4:14, there are 12 strata that are repeated four times in order until the end of Luke's Gospel.[1]  We are presently in the stratum that deals especially with Jesus' authority.

Beginning in Luke 10, Jesus' authority is seen in his sending out of the 72 and his healing ministry through them as Satan is defeated.  In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus' authority is seen in his authoritative interpretation of the law as he confounds a so-called expert in the law.  In this parable Jesus answers the essential question of life, namely, how can fallen man return to the Lord and dwell in fellowship with God once more?  His answer is that this can only happen through the grace and mercy he has come to bring us at great cost to himself.  Then in the Martha and Mary story, our Lord gives us his authoritative word about worship.  True worship is his ministry to us before it is our ministry to him.  Just as Jesus served and saved us through his redemptive work at the cross, so he continues to give us the fruit of his work by meeting with his people weekly in Word and meal. 

And now in this passage on prayer, Jesus gives us his authoritative word about the way to receive his ministry to us, which is through believing prayer.  We have a gracious Father through Christ who longs to give his children the gifts his Son has earned for them.

Thus, in a remarkable way, Luke gives us in narrative form what he spells out later in Acts 2:42 about the means of grace in worship that form the basis of the Christian liturgy: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."  Jesus ministers to his people through his Word (the apostles' teaching) and his meal (the breaking of bread), and these gifts are received by prayer (the prayers), which is the hand of faith that accepts Christ's gifts.  And all of this takes place in the fellowship of the church Jesus is building.

The means of grace are the Word and sacraments through which Jesus gives us his forgiveness and life.  The direction of the means of grace is downward from heaven to earth.  But how do we receive these gifts Jesus desires to give us?  The answer is believing prayer, which is why prayer is often seen as a means of grace along with the Word and the sacraments.  But prayer is probably better seen as the way we receive the Father's grace through his Son.  Prayer is the open hands that receive the gifts Jesus gives us.

What we see in Luke 11:1-13 is that we ought to be assured that the Father and the Son long to give us these gifts.  We should come each Lord's Day in expectant faith to meet with Jesus, for the Father is not reluctant to give us grace, life, and power through his Son.  The Father and the Son are most glorified in giving.  Let God be God.  Let the Father be our Father through his gifts to his children.  Let Jesus be Lord through his ministry to his people.  Let us come to be served before we serve, for true worship is a receptive and believing heart that receives the gifts Jesus has earned for his people through prayer.

[1] Douglas McComiskey, Lukan Theology in the Light of the Gospel's Literary Structure.  See especially p. 204-263.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Lord, Teach Us to Pray---A Hymn

Christ Has All Authority, We Must Listen When He Speaks
Suggested tune: WEIL ICH JESU SCHAFLEIN BIN (  Meter: 778877.  Based on Luke 11:1-13.  Words: William Weber, 2016.
v. 1
Christ has all authority,
we must listen when He speaks.
Even how we pray He teaches.
To the Father come in weakness.
For in Christ we may approach,
to the throne without reproach.

v. 2
O how gracious Jesus is,
He is ours and we are His.
He who sees Him sees the Father,
in Him we are sons and daughters.
To our Father now we pray,
Christ our portion every day.

v. 3
Father, we Your name revere,
cause the earth Your name to fear.
May Your kingdom come and swiftly.
O how long? O Lord, come quickly.
Till that Day, O Father, give,
all we need in Christ to live.

v. 4
Father, keep us till that Day,
may we never leave the faith.
Lead us not into temptation,
keep us from what brings damnation.
Keep us ever in Your love,
in Your Son in heav'n above.

v. 5
O how good our Father is,
He is ours and we are His.
Blessed we are to be His children,
to our prayers He surely listens.
For our Father loves to give,
all we need in Christ to live.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Can We Worship as We Please? Where Did Jesus Institute His Worship?

Given the detailed instructions for how to approach God in the old covenant, it is inconceivable that we are free to worship as we please under the new covenant.  Yet that seems to be the attitude of many when it comes to the corporate worship of Christ's people today.  

But where did Jesus give us instructions for worship?  There is only one place where Jesus gives us a command that institutes ritual, and that is at his last supper.  In Luke 22:19 we read, "And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'"  In these words our Lord instituted table fellowship as the pattern for worship.  By instituting the Supper, Jesus also gave us preaching and teaching, for nowhere does Jesus' table fellowship occur apart from his teaching.  Thus, the early church followed the pattern of Word and meal, and the Christian worship service has always had two parts: the liturgy of the Word, and the liturgy of the table.(1)   

Also important in these words of institution of our Lord is the allusion to the Sabbath command.  "Do this in remembrance of me," hearkens back to the fourth commandment:  "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."  The Sabbath was a day for both rest and worship.  Thus, Jesus is instituting his weekly worship of Word and meal as we remember him, not the day, on the new day of his resurrection, which we now call the Lord's Day.

Jesus' institution of table fellowship for the church is a wonderful truth because it means that Jesus is not absent from us, but present for us every time we gather!  Jesus is powerfully present to teach us through his Word and give us his healing life through his bread and wine.  Jesus is present to serve and minister(2)  to his people with his gifts each time we gather in his name on his day.

The Christian worship service is radically Christ-centered because Jesus is the true minister  in our midst.  The example of Mary and Martha shows us that we must let Jesus be Lord by allowing him to serve us.  Mary's posture, sitting at Jesus' feet, attentive and receptive to her Lord's teaching and life, is the pattern for all of Jesus' church.  Before we would serve Him and others, he must serve us.  Will we let him serve us or do we prefer the busyness of our own serving?(3)

1)  Terry Johnson in his book, Worshipping With Calvin, rightly says that "Worship . . . is ministry" (p. 13).  Yes, worship is more specifically Jesus' ministry to his people and those gathered.

2)  A better term than worship service is the phrase Divine Service, because it better describes the main thing that is happening in corporate worship.  Jesus Christ is ministering to us through Word and meal.  The main thing is the Lord's service to us, not our service to him.  Do we serve and worship him when we gather?  Yes.  But our service is always a response to his.

3)  Is it just me that feels our worship services are often very busy, so that we are distracted from the main thing---the one thing needed?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Worship as Christ's Ministry to Us

Luke 10:38-42
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
In Luke chapter 10, we have seen Jesus' authority in sending out the 72 and giving them power to exorcise demons. Jesus is the Son who alone reveals the Father and gives eternal life. We also have seen Jesus' authoritative interpretation of Scripture as he confounds the expert in the law. Jesus shows how the law is unable to save us, so God sent his Son into the world on a mission of mercy to raise Adam's fallen race from death to newness of life. Now in the last passage of chapter 10, we see how Jesus' people must hear and treasure Jesus' authoritative words and Jesus himself. If Jesus is truly Lord with authority over heaven and earth and the eternal Son who gives mercy and eternal life, then his authoritative teaching must be received and welcomed. His words welcomed give eternal life. Martha had welcomed Jesus into her home, which was good. But true hospitality toward our Lord is to welcome Jesus' words into our hearts, for his words give eternal life.
It is easy for us to miss the ecclesiastical(1) setting of this scene. "Martha welcomed her into her house," and houses were the places where the apostolic and early church met. Churches were formed when the words of Jesus and Jesus himself were welcomed into the hearts of his people for salvation. Not only that, but the setting in this passage meets the three criteria for table fellowship: Jesus' presence, teaching, and a meal, for the very thing that Martha was busy preparing was a meal for Jesus and his very large entourage. So this is an ecclesiastical scene, and even more, a liturgical(2) scene. Our Lord's teaching will be followed by a meal. The Lord, the eternal Son of God come in the flesh, was teaching (Word) and would sit down to eat a meal (the sacrament foreshadowed).
The point then of this passage from an ecclesiastical and liturgical point of view is this: Jesus must serve his people before they can serve others. Arthur Just puts it like this:
"The issue here is whether one is first to serve the Lord or first to be served by him. This is really a question of the proper approach to worship. Mary has the right liturgical theology. She sits at the feet of Jesus to receive divine service from him. Instead of trying to serve Jesus first, she allows Jesus first to serve her with his gifts."
O how vital this point is, and how few understand it! We do not go to church primarily to give something (worship) to God, but rather we come to church, first of all, to receive something (teaching and grace/life) from Jesus Christ the Lord!
We must let God be God! We must let Jesus be Lord! To him belongs the glory of saving his people and continuing to save them! This means that he must serve us with his gifts, before we serve him and others. We come to our Lord Jesus Christ humbly each Lord's Day to first of all receive his instruction and receive his life. Mary gives us the right picture of how we come to Jesus each Sunday, and Martha the wrong.

1) "Relating to the clergy, church organizations, administration or governance. Contrasted with 'secular.'" Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms. Donald K. McKim. p. 85.
2) A liturgy is the order of a worship service. All churches, from the most informal to most formal, have a liturgy. Certain aspects of worship are done first, second, and so forth. Thus, the word, liturgical, pertaining to the liturgy of the church.

Table Fellowship and an Opening Hymn for the Divine Service

I am convinced from Luke's Gospel that table fellowship is the biblical pattern for the Christian liturgy. Three elements form table fellowship: Christ's presence, Christ's teaching, and Christ's meal. One huge factor in accepting this as the biblical pattern for Christ's people in worship is that the only place Jesus institutes anything resembling liturgy is at the last supper, when he said, "Do this in remembrance of me." By commanding his church to eat his supper, we also get the other two elements of table fellowship, which are his presence and teaching.
One implication of this view is that it totally overturns how we are to view worship! We don't come primarily to give God worship! No, we come primarily to meet with Christ to receive his teaching and his life via the meal! Thus, before we give to others we must be filled and this happens weekly through the means of grace: Christ teaches us (Word), Christ feeds us (sacrament), and we respond in prayer (prayer).
Another implication is that we need to teach this radically Christ centered way of worship. This song I wrote today tries to do just that. I see it as the kind of hymn that we could use at the beginning of the divine service (Jesus' divine service to us!). It is based on Luke 10:38-42, which also has a table fellowship background, and comes after the parable of the good Samaritan that teaches us that we are like the beaten, half-dead man, who needs grace and mercy before anything else. This is what Christ intends to give us in his divine service of Word and meal.
This song can be sung to the familiar tune, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."
v. 1
Come to meet with Christ your Savior,
He is Lord of heav'n and earth.
Come receive His grace and favor,
people of the second birth.
Come to hear his law and gospel,
listen to the word He speaks.
For His grace and peace are promised
to the humble and the meek.
v. 2
Come to meet with Christ your portion,
for He gives eternal life.
In our Lord no longer orphans,
in the Father we delight.
As His children come to gather,
'round His table meet with Christ.
With His people eat together,
Christ your portion and your life.
v. 3
Come to meet with Christ who serves us,
for the Spirit Jesus gives.
For without Christ we do nothing,
only through Him do we live.
For before you serve your neighbor,
from the Lord you must receive.
Faith in Christ the highest worship,
prayer the hand of our belief.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Biblical Worship and the Place of Congregational Singing

Acts 2:42: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."

I wish that Christians today could see that the main elements of the worship service are all found in this verse. There are just four elements of the worship service that are given to us and should guide the way we worship together:

1) God's Word ("the apostles' teaching"). In the worship service Jesus speaks to us through the written Word and preached word.
2) Prayer ("the prayers"). We respond to the Lord's word in prayer. Prayer is the hand of faith that receives the word of Christ.
3) The Lord's Supper ("the breaking of bread"). Christ not only instructs us when we gather through the written and preached word, but he also gives us his life in the visible word of bread and wine.
4) Fellowship ("the fellowship"). In the service there is an element of fellowship that takes place. This is seen most clearly in the passing of peace, but in other ways as well, such as when we eat together.

Did you notice what is missing in this worship service? Singing! Why is congregational singing not mentioned as vital for our gathering together?

The answer is that congregational singing best fits under the category of prayer---our response of faith to the Word we have heard.(1) The word comes down to us from Christ in heaven, and our prayers ascend upwards to Him in response.

If this is true, then we need to make some changes in how we pray through song in our churches! Our songs must begin to resemble prayers---biblical prayers that petition God with humility rather than singing about our own piety! Then we will begin to be more faithful to the biblical pattern of worship we are given in Acts 2:42, which is a Word and meal pattern, interspersed with much prayer, and does not exclude fellowship.

May the Lord open our eyes to see and our hearts to desire acceptable and biblical worship. Amen

(1) The one time singing is mentioned in Acts, it is closely associated with prayer (Acts 16:25). Prayer is a broad category that includes praise, petition, thanksgiving, exhortation, teaching, confession, etc.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Reworking of Bob Kauflin's Lyrics for Out of the Depths based on Psalm 130

I was asked to rewrite Bob Kauflin's song based on Psalm 130 called Out of the Depths. I may have reworked it more than the person who asked me wanted! but I wanted to follow the logical flow of Psalm 130 more closely. Here is what I came up with. Kauflin's version is here if you want to try and sing my version (or his).

v. 1
Out of the depths, O Lord, I cry to You,
and I am tempted to despair.
For my iniquities o'erwhelm my head,
a heavy burden I can't bear.
And if You marked my sin,
Lord, I could never stand,
but I see mercy in Your hands.

So I will flee to Christ my Savior,
for His wounds were made for me,
and His grace and love forever,
I will sing eternally.
And there's nothing that can sever,
my Lord's presence from me,
I am blessed, I am blessed by You.

v. 2
Lord Jesus make anew this heart of mine,
a heart that fears Your holy name.
Incline my heart to live in triune love,
depart from selfish lust and shame.
You are my Lord and God,
You saved me by Your blood,
and I am Yours and You are mine.

So I will live in Christ my Savior,
for His wounds were made for me,
and His grace and love forever,
I will sing eternally.
And there's nothing that can sever,
My Lord's presence from me,
I am blessed, I am blessed by You.

v. 3
When I awake from sleep each day anew,
and greet the morn and rising sun.
My soul it waits for Christ my risen Lord,
my daily Bread is God the Son.
My Lord once crucified,
now at Your Father's side.
O by Your Spirit walk with me.

So I will live in Christ my Savior,
for His wounds were made for me,
and His grace and love forever,
I will sing eternally.
And there's nothing that can sever,
My Lord's presence from me,
I am blessed, I am blessed by You.

v. 4
O church of Jesus Christ, hope in the Lord,

for with Your Lord is steadfast love.
We are not saved by works that we perform,
His perfect life and death's enough.
In Christ we're justified,
God's justice satisfied,
in joy we now can walk with Him.

So we will live in Christ our Savior,
He in mercy died for us.
For His life is for whoever,
in the Lord will put their trust.
And there's nothing that can sever,
Our Lord's presence from us,
We are blessed, we are blessed by You.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Christopher Ash's Wonderful book on Conscience

"Every time we hear the law and the gospel of God, the voice of conscience says to us, 'you know these things are true; you know you are a sinner; you know God is gracious; you know you must repent of sin today.' Every time we resist, we put ourselves on a path towards hardness of heart."      --Christopher B. Ash from his excellent book, Discovering the Joy of a Clear Conscience

New Hymn Based on Luke 10:17-24: See the Joy of Christ Our Savior

Wrote these lyrics tonight based on these words about Jesus as the 72 returned with news about their mission:

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luke 10:17-22)

I wrote these words for the familiar tune found in the song, "Once in Royal David's City," if you want to sing.

See the joy of Christ our Savior,
in the Spirit filled with joy.
Satan now is cast from heaven,
and he soon will be destroyed.
Jesus came to bring us joy,
and the devil to destroy.

See the joy of Christ our Savior,
though He travels to the cross.
See His joy in restoration,
He restores what Adam lost.
For the Father He reveals,
erring sinners Jesus heals.

See the joy of Christ our Savior,
as the people turn from sin.
For they see His grace and glory,
and they turn in joy to Him.
Jesus is the Father's Son,
and forever they are One.

See the joy of Christ our Savior,
for He loves the Father's way.
Blind the proud and worldly wise men,
deep in darkness see them stray.
But to Christ the children look,
and their names in heaven's book.

See the joy of Christ our Savior,
joy above the sons of men.
Joy eternal with His Father,
that the proud won't comprehend.
Songs of praise let us employ,
triune God the source of joy!

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Mark of Christianity That is Disappearing from Our Worship | TGC

Lots of things are disappearing from Evangelical worship: the call to worship, the pastoral
prayer, devotion to the public reading of Scripture, the Lord's Supper, hymns
that don't begin every sentence with us as the subject, and an understanding
that worship is Christ's ministry to us through Word and sign/meal. But this is
also an important loss because repentance and faith define our daily walk with

The Mark of Christianity That is Disappearing from Our Worship | TGC 

A Prayer for the New Year

Part of Johann Starck's (1680-1756) prayers for the new year:

"O my God and Father . . . Let me love and esteem my Jesus above everything.  Let me by Your power follow in His holy footsteps, and ever let that mind be in me that was in Him also, so that at all times I may most intimately be united with Him and please You for His sake. . . .

"Grant me the power of Your Holy Spirit that I may become truly godly during this year and live as a true child of God, that I may be devout in my prayers and be a careful hearer and doer of Your Word.  Grant that in the new year the condition of my heart may be described like this: "The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Let there be in me new longings for You, new love toward my fellow human beings, a new zeal to enter into communion with You and to abide in it.  Sanctify me wholly, that my entire spirit, soul, and body may be kept blameless until the day of Christ Jesus.  Give me new zeal in my Christian faith that I may grow and increase in whatever is good.  Bless my calling and labor, my going out and my coming in.  Give me whatever blessings You have in store for me.

"However, let me also remember that some time the last year of my life will begin.  Grant that I may always keep myself in readiness, live in a state of repentance and faith, have my lamp burning and dressed to welcome You, my Bridegroom and my gracious God, and to enter into the kingdom You have prepared for me from the foundation of the world.  Give me a new mind and a new spirit in conformity with Your will, teach me unwaveringly to fulfill what You command, and keep me, body and soul, a habitation of Your Spirit."

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