The prayers below are from the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, pp. 820 ff.
In the Anglican tradition, we believe: Lex orandi, lex credendi -- "the rule of prayer is the rule of belief". If you want to know what Anglican believe, read the Book of Common Prayer. Anglicans are not famous for their theological tomes, they are famous for their Book of Common Prayer. And rightly so. Anglican belief is contained in their prayer life.
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is "common" in many senses, but primarily in the sense that we bring our common life to our prayers when we gather. Worship together become dull, routine, and boring when we do not fill the time with the concerns effecting our common relationship. When worshippers openly share their lives in prayer, that is down-to-earth, practical theology in the trenches.
The BCP is "common" also in the sense that there is a common shape to it, even though it is translated into many languages and used in many cultures. An Anglican seems to know that he is "at home" in an Anglican church, no matter the culture he may have happened upon.
Much of that has been seriously (and deliberately) eroded in the last century by the intrusion of secularism and relativism into the life of the Church, the intrusion, that is, of the worldview of the Fall. It eventually crept into the new versions of the BCP beginning with the experimental versions of the 1960's and 70's leading to the 1979 BCP. The time will come when that will (once again) be corrected. The Anglican Communion is currently (2005) going through massive upheaval and schism, which will eventually be a cleansing of the Augean Stables.
These prayers below spell out very clearly the Biblical position on civil government -- and -- they were written by Americans, many of them the same people who wrote our national and state constitutions. The same Biblical worldview permeated both politics and religion in early America.
The claim the "Jesus us Lord" is a political claim. "No king but Jesus!" was a battle cry of the war with King George III, inspired largely by the evangelical colonial clergy. Either Jesus is lord over all creation, including politics, the military, industry, and education (for starters), or He is not lord over anything.
Read these prayers carefully, literally, and accurately. In almost every case, the literal sense is exactly what faithful Christians will stand (and vote) for publicly. Jesus is Lord. Read each sentence to see whether you can believe, pray, and vote that honestly. It might have a stunning effect.
I remember reading and hearing such prayers as a child, and being very uncomfortable with the growing chasm between what we were praying and what was being done and said in public life, often the same people doing the praying and the public speaking. I felt caught in a hypocritical situation, but with no idea about what to do even as I grew into adulthood. So I just kept to myself.
Now I know why I was so ill at ease. And what to do about it. And I am not keeping to myself.
There are, by the way, good, reasonable, and Godly answers to the challenges of "pluralism" and "inclusiveness". (See Emmaus News, July & August 1998, and Freemarket of Ideas... Also the Education, Politics, and Constitution libraries.) E. Fox
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Lord, our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to Thy merciful care, that, being guided by Thy providence, we may dwell secure in Thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to d Thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in Thy fear; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God world without end. Amen.
O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech Thee so to guide and bless our Senators and Representatives in Congress assembled (or in the Legislature of this State, or Commonwealth) that they may enact such laws as shall please Thee, to the glory of Thy name and welfare of this people; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Almighty God, who sittest on the throne judging right: We humbly beseech Thee to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates in all this land; give unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of Thee alone; through Him who shall come to be our Judge, thy Son our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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