Prayer for the Church – M.Bucer and P.Melanchthon, 1543

Grant also to us all, who here in thy sight come together in thy Word, prayer, alms, and divine sacraments, that we may truly come together only in thy name, and in the name of thy dear Son, that we may take hold of thy divine law and holy gospel with true faith, that dying daily more and more to ourselves, we may wholly give over ourselves to thy dear Son, our only Savior, who alone through his stripes and most bitter death hath redeemed us from sins and eternal damnation, hath restored us into thy favor through his resurrection and heavenly kingdom, hath called us into himself in his congregation, and hath planted into himself unto everlasting life, and made us his own members, that we should live more and more in him, and he in us, that thy holy name may be more largely sanctified by us in all our life and all our doings, that thy kingdom may be amplified by us, and in others, that at length all things may be done among us upon earth, with such promptness and cheerfulness as they are done in heaven. And for this purpose, that we may wholly live for and serve thee, give us also our daily bread. Amen.

prayersofreformers-manschreckTaken from another little gem found in the library of Prof.David J. Engelsma (and which I took home for the weekend), Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press in 1958 (p.58). Manschreck notes that this precious prayer was “originally from [the Reformers] Bucer and Malanchthon” with a date of 1543.

True Religion Before God and the Father – H.Hanko

faithmadeperfect-hhanko-2015The Reformed Free Publishing Association has recently published a new commentary on the epistle of James by Prof. Herman Hanko (emeritus, PRC Seminary). It carries the title Faith Made Perfect: Commentary on James (RFPA, 2015).

Doing some reading in it this morning led me to these two quotes that are also fitting for us on this Lord’s Day when we are called to practice “true religion and undefiled before God and the Father” (1:27). And that is contrast to a religion that is “vain” because we do not bridle our tongues (1:26).

Here is some of what Prof.Hanko says about these verses in the end of James 1:

The word translated as ‘vain’ [1:26] is not kenos, which means empty, but mataios, which means aimless. It refers to a religion that is without purpose, without fruit, without any goal, when the goal of one’s life ought to be the glory of God and praise to him who is alone worthy of it. Everything he does in the practice of religion is purposeless. His singing in church, his giving alms, and his careful attention to religious practices – all are without purpose, for they are only outward. God is not praised; nothing that man does is of any benefit to himself or to God, all because he does not know how to bridle his tongue. That is a devastating indictment (pp.78-79).

And then on the next verse, v.27, Hanko has this to say:

The addition of ‘Father’ is remarkable. It immediately puts all worship in the context of a father-son relationship. Worship is family fellowship – fellowship between a Father and his children. It is a relationship of love and mutual joy. It is a confession, with all that is implied, that worship is conversation between our Father in heaven and his children. It is conversation between our Father in heaven and his children on earth. Thus true religion before the Father is also religion that preserves the proper ‘space’ between the almighty and eternal God and creatures who are very, very sinful children. True religion is praise to God for his love for us in Christ (pp.79-80)