Wednesday 9 March: Lent 2011


You are encouraged to pray the prayer, pause, read the scripture, pause, read the reflection, and then pray the prayer again.

This prayer comes from Fursa (died 650), an Irish monk who did much to establish Christianity in East Anglia [more].

A 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 yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder’

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Few inventions have ever surpassed the importance of the humble yoke. Before the yoke our distant ancestor was able to plough just enough land for himself. With an animal and a plough, perhaps this man could farm just enough for his family.

But the invention of the yoke enabled our ancestor to subdue and farm an area maybe ten times the size of his former little strip of land. By co-operating with other families, a pair of oxen, an iron plough and a yoke, would allow them all to live at a much higher level. Now they could eat enough to grow bigger and stronger, to be fruitful and multiply in number.

It is strange but true mathematics that when two beasts are yoked together their effectiveness is more than doubled. An ox-master can set his sights on higher goals and a better life.

To be yoked with Christ’s Law – his words and ways – we become connected with God in a fruitful partnership.  We can just survive on our own, but tied shoulder-to-shoulder with God we can live on an entirely different level. Yoked with God we can set his sights on higher goals and a better life, the abundant life of Christ.

A Breastplate Prayer is intended as a daily act of self-offering.  It does not discriminate between the person who has been a believer in Christ for 30 years and the one who has been a believer for 30 minutes. It simply offers words to anyone who would look to God and say:

‘God be near to me’, ‘God be bound to me’, ‘I offer you my shoulders’.

If you feel unconnected with God or ineffective, lacking in purpose, or sensing that you are merely eking out a life that is too bare and shallow, then allow this prayer to express your heart’s cry. If you are hungry for a sense of meaning, desperate to bear some fruit and multiply, or wanting in whatever way to raise your sights to something better, then cry out for the yoke of the Law of God to rest on your shoulder.

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