By Brooke Holt
“Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.” Proper 17, The Book of Common Prayer
What is True Religion? Yes, I know True Religion is a very popular and expensive clothing line. However, the Collect’s use of this term does not pertain to a clothing line. Instead, the Collect begins by acknowledging God is the God of all power and the giver of all good things. After confessing this truth, we pray this God of power would “increase in us true religion”.
People often react unfavorably to the word ‘religion’, even Christians. Therefore, it beckons us to consider what the Collect intends for the church. People often resent the idea of religion, because they see it as an exclusive group of people that operate with different rules. Outsiders fear those within that religion will impose its rules upon them or use its rules to judge them. Clearly, neither of those is ideal, nor does either present God’s intent for his church.
So, what does this prayer mean for you, for me, and for the larger church? We find the answer in the next sentence. True religion flows from people being nourished by the goodness of God. You can receive this nourishment at church each Sunday as you worship, pray, and hear the Word spoken and preached. It happens as you serve in various ministries or share your faith in the workplace and community. You soak in the goodness of God when you read his Word and allow his Holy Spirit to convict and guide you.
Nourishment in the goodness of God produces good fruit or good works. It leads us to Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” The fruit of the Spirit is the manifestation of true religion; it demonstrates God working in our lives, transforming us to be like his Son, and then shining his light into the world.
True religion does not result from you working harder, being perfect, or saying all the right things about God. True religion is the result of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in you and transforming you from the inside out.
Join your Christian brothers and sisters today in praying this beautiful Collect, and then expectantly allow the Holy Spirit to do this amazing work in you and through you. When he does, the world will see you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and one who practices true religion.
Will you allow the Holy Spirit to begin his divine work in you today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Come explore the grand story of God as the one who knows and loves his people. In one of the greatest love stories ever told, The Book of Exodus reveals God as Yahweh, the Great “I AM.” He is the transcendent, all-powerful creator of all things who defeated the greatest powers of the earth. This same God would have his people know and love him in an intimate and personal way. The Great “I AM” – A Study of the Book of Exodus is a 9-week study consisting of a small group study guide combined with weekly video teachings. Come and meet The Great “I AM”.
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