I’m not sure how much time you spent looking at the ‘Collect Prayers’ week after week. It’s easy to overlook them – as just another prayer that the pastor usually prays and while the rest of us are waiting for the sermon. And yet, there is a treasure-trove of wisdom hidden in these little petitions week-after-week which speak directly to the way in which our lives of faith are shaped and formed.
The Collect from this past Sunday is one such gem where, acknowledging that God is the giver of all good gifts, we pray for His inspiration so that He would reframe and reform our thoughts to what is right so that, by His merciful guiding, we would be able to accomplish them.
There is a cool correlation hidden under these words. ‘Thinking rightly’ is what the Greek words under ‘orthodoxy’ point us to. And not only, right thinking, but also to proper praise – as the Greek word doxa captures within its meaning as well.
This notion might strike us as strange in a world and society which values so-called ‘free thinking’. The funny thing is, however, that even though we might initially react to the notion that the Church (of all things) might ‘direct’ the way we think, we have no problem with allowing teachers and university professors, self-help books, psychologists and counsellors, not to mention movies and music and TV shows to do that for us. Even the commercials we watch with their jingles are all aimed at shaping the way we thing so as to shape the way we buy. And most of the time, we embrace this without complaint.
This Collect reminds us that faith-formation – the shaping of our spiritual lives – has everything to do with how we look at life – and for this, we need the help of the Holy Spirit as He helps and leads us through the words of Scripture. That is, after all, where our transformation be become more Christ-like begins. This is why Jesus referred to religious folks who are only concerned about external behaviour as ‘white washed tombs’ (Matthew 23:27-28). Their outsides might look pretty but their insides sure stink. Faith formation begins on the inside – in the tomb – and just in the same way that Jesus transformed His tomb into a place of life, He does the same for us too. So yes, we pray that our Triune God would retrain our minds to think those things that are right and shape us to become more-and-more faithful in our witness.