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Prayer for the week

by
19 April 2013

Rob Gillion on a prayer of light for pilgrims in their journey through darkness

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Almighty God, you have taught us that your word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. Help us, and all who prayerfully read your word, to deepen our fellowship with you and with each other through your love. And in so doing may we come to know you more fully, love you more truly, and follow you more faithfully in the steps of your son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for evermore. Amen. 

The BRF Prayer 

This prayer has been a constant companion for me, a true pilgrim's prayer. It is the prayer of the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), which appears at the beginning of its study notes.

I was encouraged to read them first as a teenager, and much later was asked if I would write some notes. I am now a trustee. Having just celebrated the 90th anniversary of this inspiring ministry, I can see how this prayer has been used by several generations; I have been praying it daily for 40 years.

It is also a prayer that speaks of a journey rather than a destination. It suggests the swaying lamp, lighting our path, dispelling the shadows, inviting us to stop by the wayside, study the map, and take some refreshment, before we continue our adventure. It is a prayer for the pilgrim who is invited to step into the shoes of Christ.

A pilgrim wanders through life, often limping, at times lost, but always searching - often quite unconsciously - for something or someone to make sense of life and death. This prayer begins with a promise of a lamp to light our path. It suggests that we should invite others to join us, too. We all know how friendships are deepened with the shared experience of travelling together.

I spent ten years as a chaplain to a high-security prison, which was quite a journey, and often overwhelmed by darkness. But when the light of Christ shone, it did so very brightly. Many of the prisoners would come to the chapel mainly to escape from the loneliness of their cell, and would find an oasis of peace and a community of faith searching for hope in despair, and light in darkness.

The BRF prayer combines a sentiment from Psalm 119.105, and a resonance with the prayer of St Richard of Chichester, who faced hardship as an outcast. The prayer reflects the "stickability" needed by anyone who seeks to be a true follower of Jesus - another prayer I often shared in prison.

Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have won for us, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me. Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen. 

After I shared these prayers with the prisoners, they started their own prayer groups in their workshops, and every week they would ask me for people to pray for from the Church on "the outside". I would offer them a list of those who were ill or facing challenging moments in their lives. The following week, the prisoners would want to know the results. It was a journey for them, from self to others, in the company of Christ.

Knowing God more fully, loving him more truly, and following him more faithfully are the goals set by this prayer. They are reached by stepping into the footprints of Jesus Christ, encountering him through the guiding of the Holy Spirit, and continuing this life of adventure as a pilgrim in the company of others, thankful for the sanctity of the present moment.

The Revd Rob Gillion is the Rector of Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, and St Saviour's, Upper Chelsea, in London.

 

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