Praying the Good and Doing the Good
By Fr. Mark Perkins
Editor’s Note: In this three-part series, Fr. Mark Perkins examines the meaning of The Rogation Days through the texts appointed in the Book of Common Prayer. Read Part I here and Part III here.
Asking, seeking, and knocking are not passive gestures. Alongside general reflections on the nature of petitionary prayer and specific petitions for a bountiful growing season, a third thread runs through the texts appointed for Rogation: action. As we lift our minds up to God in prayer — which we can do because our “life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3) — we thereby “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col: 3:1).
The recognition that “God gives the growth” in both gardens and in souls should not inspire complacency. The gardener waters, weeds, and composts not because he doubts God but precisely because he trusts that God will sustain the growth of the seeds. Likewise, the recognition that all of our holiness depends wholly upon God’s grace encourages us to cooperate with that grace and to pursue the means of grace with greater fervor. Grace compels us to ask, to seek, and to knock, knowing that God will in fact answer.
The Epistle for Rogation Sunday picks up exactly where St. James left off in the Epistle for Easter IV. That one reminded us that God is the source of “every good gift and every perfect gift”; yesterday we were reminded that we must therefore do the good: “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.” The Sunday Collect draws both of these themes together:
“O Lord, from whom all good things do come, Grant to us, thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same.”
We perform those things that are good by means of the grace God has already bestowed upon us, and as we perform them we help build the kingdom of heaven.
Fr. Mark Perkins is Assistant Curate at All Saints Charlottesville, Assistant Editor of Earth & Altar, and a full-time history teacher.