Tuesday 15 March: Lent 2011


The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit on this head,
The sign of Christ on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit in these ears,
The smelling of the Holy Spirit in this nose.
The vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes,
The speech of the people of heaven in this mouth,
The work of the Church of God in these hands
The good of God and of neighbour in these feet.
May God dwell in this heart,
And this person belong entirely to God the Father.

May the coming of the Holy Spirit on this head

John 14:23-26

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

In one sense I have no need to ask the Holy Spirit to come when I have already received him. But a Breastplate Prayer is about clothing myself daily in the armour with which God has equipped me. As the Apostle Paul says ‘Let us live up to what we have already attained’.

As I pray, I realise that my contact with God is so much more than a matter of words. God is my Heavenly Father and so I may talk with him as a child to a parent. This is what Jesus taught. However, when the Spirit of God descends upon my head like a dove no words are called for. I must simply offer him my head as his resting place.

The Scriptures say that the Spirit of God is also like anointing oil, which one simply allows to soak into the pores of the skin.

According to the Old Testament prophet our God is like a mother hen, gathering her brood under her wing. Therefore, God will chivvy me and encircle me in order to protect me.

God’s Spirit is like the wind that fuels and guides great ships on the sea. Likewise, I will allow His Spirit to direct and empower me. The Spirit of Truth is a counsellor, and so I must also learn to listen.

Jesus said that the Spirit is like a river flowing through me and giving life. I must therefore learn both to drink and to impart.

Our prayer implies a moment of calm stillness and collection: silently being touched on the crown of the head. What might that touch convey? Love? Affirmation? Ownership? Blessing? Anointing? For Christ it was all those things, for the Father said ‘Behold my Son with whom I am well pleased.’

This touch implies that there is something to be received. As you pray, then, stand before your Heavenly Father, quiet and expectant, and enjoy the moment of stillness:

‘May the coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head.’

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