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Prayers for our country

By Scott Baker

By the time this article goes to print there will be less than two weeks before our national Election Day. Given the many factors going on in our country, not the least being the coronavirus, political divide and economic collapse, it seems to me to be an ideal time to seek the help of a higher power. The Episcopal Church is a liturgical church and our liturgy is proscribed in The Book of Common Prayer. Its first edition was in 1549 and has been the bulwark of the Anglican/Episcopal Church for almost five centuries. It is also acclaimed by many to be one of the greatest works of English literature ranked by many scholars (who rank such things) alongside of Shakespeare. Truly it is a treasure of the English language that expresses with grace and clarity petition, oblation, contrition and praise.

So, when Episcopalians think about praying, they tend to turn to the Book of Common Prayer. In fact, when an Episcopalian is asked to pray extemporaneously, the words of the prayer will be peppered with phrases from The Book of Common Prayer. In addition to the rites (communion, baptism, etc.) of the church, it also contains many additional prayers proscribed for various occasions. As the days count down to our ational election, I offer this litany from The Book of Common Prayer (pgs. 821-822) for your daily meditations.

O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.

Lord, keep this nation under your care.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties.

Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities and Towns, give courage, wisdom and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.

Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served.

Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.

For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Amen.

Needless to say, any prayers at times of transition and heightened anxiety are beneficial. I hope these words help you, and help our country, in our time of need and transition.

THE REV. SCOTT BAKER is the pastor of Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Contact him at 757-562-4542.