That we may know your presence

Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant Edward Bouverie Pusey, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for the Commemoration of Edward Bouverie Pusey, Priest 1882 in Holy Women, Holy Men)

The Collect is a prayer regularly used in our worship. Its form was settled early in our history. After addressing God (and often acknowledging, even praising, divine attributes that thrill, or comfort, or challenge us) we ask God to meet our needs with grace for the moment, and grace for the future. Often we ask for this grace so that we may accomplish God’s will “on earth as in heaven.” We make this prayer, always, “through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Every year on September 18 we remember Edward Bouverie Pusey, a priest, an educator, and a leader of church reform in 19th century England (with John Keble and John Henry Newman). From the Collect for this day, a Collect prayed for “the Church” (that is. for you and me and all members of the Church), consider what is asked for you/us and open your eyes to see how this prayer is being answered in you, in the Church, in our world.

Hear what the Spirit is saying, as you listen to what we ask (and what we say about ourselves and our God) in the Collect we pray as we commemorate Edward Bouverie Pusey:

  • “in all time of our testing” — we who know and love and seek to follow Jesus understand that we will be tested in body and mind and spirit; we do not shrink from these tests, these trials;
  • AND we ask that God grant sufficient grace in order that “we may know your presence and obey your will,” — to feel the presence of God even in the midst of great trials and tests is a true joy (I speak from experience, I have been there, I have encountered God in the midst of darkness and the threat of destruction and found both peace and joy in that encounter)
  • AND we ask this grace for a purpose; we ask so that
    • “following the example of your servant Edward Bouverie Pusey”— we are connected to all those who have gone before us and who have lived, like Edward, through challenges, trials, and “tests” giving us confidence that we, too, can find our way;
    • “we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to do,” — following the example of those who have gone before puts “flesh” on concepts like integrity and courage and gives us hope that we may accomplish the work we have been given to do in the Reign of God (and yes, we believe that God has indeed given us work to do);
    • “and, endure what you give us to bear” — again, knowing that Edward was able to endure with integrity and courage in his day, gives us the audacity to ask God to grant us grace, in our day, to “endure” even when we would like to give up.

What are your thoughts as you listen to this prayer? What are your experiences, your hopes, your beliefs, given voice in this prayer? Please continue the conversation in the Comment section. Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

Author: Daniel Rondeau

I am a husband and father and an Episcopal Priest (now retired) in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

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