The Liturgical Home: An Advent Bidding Prayer

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The season of Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and is the time set aside when Christians around the world prepare their hearts for the coming of Christ. Advent is all about slowing down, waiting, and longing for the fulfillment of God’s purposes. 

As a young mom with four little kids, the season of Advent was anything but those things! It was not the most wonderful time of the year, it was the most stressful time! There were sugar highs, presents to buy, cookies to make, and so many activities to go to! For me, the season of Advent was hectic and filled with anxiety.

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Remembering Christ

One of the things that centered me every year was the Bidding Prayer from the Anglican service of Advent Lessons and Carols. It’s called a “bidding prayer” because it’s bidding us, inviting us, to enter into Advent with all our hearts. It invites us to “let it be our care and delight” to step out of the frantic pace of this world and to hear again the message of the Angels, that a Savior had been born to us which is Christ the Lord. Here’s the first part of the Bidding Prayer:

Beloved in Christ, in this season of Advent, let it be our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the Angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem, to see the Babe lying in a manger. Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by his holy Child, and let us look forward to the yearly remembrance of his birth with hymns and songs of praise…

The bidding prayer was written by an Anglican priest named Eric Milner-White. He served as an army chaplain during the First World War on both the Western Front and in the Italian Campaign. He returned home from the war on January 5, 1918, and was made the Dean of King’s College. Within his first year of being home, he introduced the Lessons and Carols service along with his beautiful bidding prayer on Christmas Eve, 1918.

Remembering the World

Though it begins by remembering Christ, the Bidding Prayer does not retreat from the world. Its second section invites us to remember in our prayers “the needs of the whole world:”

let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; for the mission and unity of the Church for which he died, and especially in this country and within this city. And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless; the hungry and the oppressed; the sick and those who mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; and all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.

One hundred and ninety-nine men from King’s College alone died in the war, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Milner-White’s countrymen. It is remarkable to think that having just returned from the war, with all of its senseless death and trauma, Milner-White could call both to pray for the world’s pain, and also to delight again in Christ.

An Advent Invitation for All

If Eric Milner-White could delight in Christ in the midst of a World War, each of us can find hope in Chris in the midst of our struggles.

As you enter into the season of Advent, maybe you feel overwhelmed, tired, or just distracted and anxious by all that needs to be done. Maybe, like me, you need to hear this bidding prayer – this invitation once again to let it be our care and delight in this holy season to prepare our hearts and homes for the coming of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is the Advent Bidding Prayer in its entirety:

“Beloved in Christ, in this season of Advent, let it be our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the Angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem, to see the Babe lying in a manger. Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by his holy Child, and let us look forward to the yearly remembrance of his birth with hymns and songs of praise. But first, let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the earth; for the mission and unity of the Church for which he died, and especially in this country and within this city. And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless; the hungry and the oppressed; the sick and those who mourn; the lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; and all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love. Lastly, let us remember before God his pure and lowly Mother, and all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no one can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one.”

Want more of Ashley’s wisdom on Advent? Purchase her book on Advent here!

Published on

November 26, 2022

Author

Ashley Tumlin Wallace

Ashley Tumlin Wallace, the author of the Liturgical Home series of books and articles at Anglican Compass, is a homeschooling mom of four and the wife of an Anglican priest. She and her family live in the panhandle of Florida.

View more from Ashley Tumlin Wallace

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