The following excerpt is from the long general prayer in the service. Here the exile community, after confessing to God the basis for prayer in Christ’s command and through His mediatorship, prays in keeping with 1 Timothy 2 for those in authority over them, and sounds rather an O’Donovanian note in asking God that all princes would acknowledge the principality of Christ, the King of Kings. For the author of the prayer, this follows from the Father’s having given all power [potestas] in heaven and on earth to His Son. Such acknowledgment only happens, of course, by a work of God’s Spirit, and so they ask for this.
The political or communal life of the people as construed in this prayer, then, is ordered to worship. The people pray for peace and freedom, but peace and freedom of a particular kind: the untroubled freedom to live in holiness and thanksgiving to God. The vision is one of ordered and just authority under Christ, entailing obedience to Christ, for the purpose of giving praise to Christ’s name.
We therefore beseech Your mercy, O heavenly Father, for princes and all those who have power over Your servants, whom You have commanded to render justice [ius dicere] to Your people: but particularly the Consuls and Senate of this city , that You would deign to bestow upon them your Spirit, who is truly a Prince [princeps] and Ruler of wills, and that you would increase His gifts, power, and grace more and more, so that they may acknowledge Your Son our Lord Christ only and alone as King of Kings and the one Who possesses dominion [principatum] over every power, to Whom assuredly You have given all power in heaven and on earth; next, so that they, persuaded by a sure faith, may with their whole hearts be zealous to render themselves acceptable to Him by a true and spiritual worship, and to advance [provehere] and extend His reign among their subjects, themselves reigning in accordance with the rule [praescriptum] of Your will in conformity with Your law, just as they surely know themselves and those [subjects] to have been created and made by You, and indeed to be the sheep of Your flock. May it therefore be permitted by Your kindness to enjoy peace, in which we may serve You with all holiness and uprightness [honestate] and, freed from our enemies, may be able to render to You thanks and praise.
E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.
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