Above all else Andrewes was a praying man, and he expected his contemporaries to be so too. There is never a time when we do not "stand in need of God's particular assistance", nor a place in which we cannot pray. Thus for Andrewes prayer should be ceaseless; it was like the burning of incense ever arising to the court of heaven. "'Let our prayer go up to Him that His grace may come down to us,' so to lighten us in our ways and works that we may in the end come to dwell with Him, in the light 'whereof there is no even-tide.'"
It is through prayer that we come to know God better, and learn that it is only by the Holy Spirit working within us that we can pray at all. Prayer is thus a gift of grace. So if we find ourselves not being able to pray, we must humbly ask for grace to be able to pray. Without praying we sin, and so one of this divine's terse remarks was that 'prayer is good as it keeps us from sin.'
For many, their introduction to Lancelot Andrewes has been through his Preces Privatæ. For those familiar with this collection will know that his prayers are like a piece of tapestry as he weaves strands from the Bible, especially the Psalms, the Hours, the Prayer Book he loved, and those prayers that have echoed throughout the centuries from the time of the early Fathers. However this weaving is not tight but loose enough to allow for spontaneous prayer arising from daily life.
His own prayer life followed the pattern of the Church's daily offices with its five-fold approach - confession, thanksgiving, praise, intercession and petition for morning and evening prayers. All of these were extensive. For instance in confession he repeatedly saw himself as the "chief of sinners" and thus showed "the infinite acknowledgement of unworthiness and want, and the infinite hope in God's mercy and love, in one who searched and judged himself with keen and unflinching truth." Prayer for Andrewes was essentially ecclesial and sacramental, and thus the Preces cannot be separated from Andrewes' theology. It revealed his consciousness of continuing in the line of the Fathers, or indeed further back to antiquity when man first set up his altar to God, and therefore there was always an awareness of praying as part of that whole Church of God, the saints and sinners; the living and the dead. This is evident by what can be termed an anamnesis approach to his praying where he constantly recalled the various gifts God has given through creation, redemption and sanctification. He also firmly believed that Christ and the Church's teaching spoke as "one person", and that outside of the Church no Christian could receive Christ's blessings and grace which in time will bring them to "the glory, the joys, [and] the crown of Heaven" His praying as a member of Christ's universal church was manifested as he embraced the whole cosmos, ranging from nature with all its wondrous details to the needs of those around him. Everything must be offered to God either in praise and thanksgiving for the whole universe or a confession of penitence for soiling it. He prayed "for all commonwealths of the world" and for all peoples, whether they worked in mines or courts. More particularly his prayers included all those who had been associated with him in any way during his life. So he prayed for his old school and master, college, parishes and cathedrals. Furthermore his bidding prayers supported his ecclesial teaching. In the fragility of the "whole Militant Church, scattred farre and wide over the face of the whole earth", he prayed for the preserving in it "those trueths that it hath recovered from the sundrie grose and superstitious errors of the former age". He also prayed for its unity which it daily seems to lose "through the unchristian and unhappy contentions of these dayes of ours", and therefore For the Catholic Church:
for the churches throughout the world:
their truth, unity and stability to wit:
in all let charity thrive, truth live:
for our own church:
that the things that are wanting therein be supplied,
that are not right be set in order.
In praying for the whole church he never forgot that the Church militant was part of the wider Church with its saints, especially the Mother of God and all heavenly beings. Thus in an intercessory prayer for the whole Church collated from the liturgies of James and Chrysostom he concluded with:
Neither are we unmindful to bless Thee, for the most holy, pure, highly blessed, the Mother of God, Mary the eternal Virgin, with all the Saints:
Recommending ourselves and our whole life to Thee,
O Lord, our Christ and God:
For to Thee belongeth glory, honour, and worship.
Overall his prayers ranged from his own sense of utter unworthiness and frailty to the grandeur and wonder of God, and from the humble needs of the individual to the wide needs of the State. There seemed to be nothing that escaped his prayerfulness, even for those who had committed suicide. So his prayers reflected his concern for all humanity, as they embraced king and subject, rich and poor, and each man in his various daily work and circumstance; for all creation, for the entire world, and of course for the universal church. "Let us beg of the Lord for the whole creatures, the gift of Healthful, Fruitful, Peaceful times."
However the Preces Privatæ is not the only extant work of Andrewes' prayers and his teaching on prayer. Shortly after his death in 1630 his amanuensis and chaplain, Henry Isaacson, compiled from Andrewes' papers a collection of prayers to cover every aspect of life. As well as prayers for the morning and evening there are also prayers for the Eucharist, in sickness and approaching death. Titled Institutiones Piæ or Directions to Prayer it included too the seven penitential and thanksgiving psalms, and summaries of Andrewes' teaching on the Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments, repentance and confession respectively.
There is yet another important work on prayer by Andrewes. Scala Coeli, first published in 1611, is the collection of nineteen sermons that he gave on prayer and the Lord's Prayer probably in the 1590's, and its title is not without significance. In the Mediæval Church "Scala Coeli" was intricately bound up with indulgences to lessen the time of purgatory through prayers, masses, penances and good works offered for the dead. At the beginning of the Henrician Reformation it was one of the abuses clearly to be put away. It had also been one of the pilgrimage cults of Westminster Abbey when in 1500 "Henry VII secured the 'Scala Coeli' indulgence for requiem Masses celebrated in his new chapel".
On the title page, the editor, Francis Burton, depicted the purpose of these sermons, "the first sixe guiding to the true Doore" and the rest "teaching how so to knock thereat that wee may enter." Hence prayer must always be the way to heaven, but offered simply in gratitude for what God has given without the implication of any leniency on Judgment day.
Here is a brief summary of these sermons. In the first of the preparatory ones Andrewes emphasised the importance of preparation in order to be able to pray aright. The first step is to acknowledge our own lack of holiness, goodness and sufficiency without God. That acknowledgement leads to the door of prayer, and on opening it, we will firstly confess our unworthiness and need for spiritual enlightenment, strength and humility. Then only will God give His grace to meet our needs. In his own prayer book, Andrewes had a meditation before prayer.
The second sermon was directed particularly towards those who thought they could pray in their own strength. They forget that "'every good giving and every perfect gift cometh'" from God, including the gift (what "St. Paul calls grace") to be able to pray. From grace there is a "spiritual" enlightenment and gradual progression "from one degree of perfection to another" for the rest of our earthly life. Thus it is only by grace that we can perfect the imperfect. This is what Andrewes often called growing in holiness in other sermons.
The emphasis in the third was about obedience to pray according to Christ's precepts, and therefore "we may not think any longer it is a matter indifferent." This meant praying publicly in a set form, the kind of prayer that has been offered since antiquity, and as such is like incense rising to the heavenly court. Therefore praying is not something we choose to do but rather what we are bound to perform as being "required as part of God's service" and "worship". For Andrewes, partaking in the Divine Liturgy with the whole Church is the great act of praying; far more important than our own private prayers, yet he did not belittle private praying as seen in this advice.
When thou awakest in the morning, shut and close up the entrance to thy heart, from all unclean, profane, and evil thoughts, and let the consideration of God and goodness enter in.
When thou art arisen and art ready, return thyself to thy closet, or other private place, and offer to God, the first fruits of the day, and in praying to him and praising him, remember,
1.To give him thanks, for thy quiet rest received, for delivering thee from all dangers, ghostly and bodily, and for all other his benefits to thee 2.Offer unto him thyself, and all things that thou dost possess, and desire him to dispose of thee and them, according to his good pleasure. 3.Crave his grace to guide thee, and to strengthen thee from, and against all temptations, that so thou mayest do nothing the day following contrary to his will. 4.And lastly, beg of him, (according to how we should pray) all things needful for the soul and body.
Praying alone for Andrewes also meant those "private meditations and conferences between God and our souls", the contemplative approach. Often in his liturgical sermons too he advocated this contemplative approach. For instance in his extant sermons for Good Friday he begged his auditors to spend much time simply contemplating the cross. "Blessed are the hours that are so spent!" he told them.
Returning to sermon three, private praying is also closely linked with Christ's command to "'ask, seek, knock;'" By obeying this command it helps us firstly to "see our want and need", so that we shall ask for them; secondly, it enables us to acknowledge that "we have lost ourselves", and so we seek; and thirdly it enables us to learn that without God's grace we are shut out of His presence and kingdom until we knock. Again Andrewes stressed our asking for the "spirit of grace and of prayer and ... then shall we have ability and power not only to seek the door, but when we have found it to knock at it." Why does Andrewes put so much emphasis on the door? The reason is that Christians have to learn "that when we come to pray to God the whole person must be occupied,' that is, "the lifting up of our eyes... hands... [and] heart." Only then will the door open through which we shall "enter into His kingdom".
Employing the right kind of knocking led Andrewes to teach on the correct posture for prayer, by following the example Christ gave. That way was to kneel reverently and not to sit. He argued, we cannot ask for grace, if we ourselves are "wanting unto grace".
Andrewes in his fourth sermon stressed his ecclesial teaching. When we pray we are part of that whole church which prays unceasingly all over the world; however dispersed, the faithful always pray as "members of one body". These prayers are joined with those of "God's saints that pray for us with all instancy". Hence the main emphasis in prayer is not praying privately for ourselves but corporately so that when our praying is "faint" we are comforted by knowing that we not only have the saints and other Christians praying with us, but also "our Head, Christ ....[who] ceaseth not to make request to God still for us." Of course it is He who prays in us and enables us to overcome our faintness and infirmities so that our prayers will proceed from the "fervency and zeal" of the spirit". By acknowledging that it is "the Spirit of God [which] maketh intercession for us", we shall not err "in spiritual things" as He "will make that prayer for us which shall be both for our good and also according to God's will". Furthermore praying as a member of the Church also teaches us that all Christians, living and departed, are bound together through the Holy Spirit. In the fifth sermon Andrewes suggested that we approach prayer through the eyes of the disciples who learnt about prayer from observing Christ. From Him they learnt three uses of prayer. One is "of necessity; for God hath left prayer to be our city of refuge, to the end that when all means fail we should fly unto God by prayer." The second is "of duty, for prayer is an offering", and in that sense is likened to incense, while the third is "of dignity" when prayer becomes a matter of being completely absorbed in God Himself. Thus like the disciples we can also learn to approach our Lord to "teach us to pray", and His response will be the same, "The Lord's Prayer". This is the model for all our praying, in which "there is not one word wanting that should be put in, nor any word more than ought to be," Andrewes suggested. In the last of these preparatory sermons Andrewes emphasised once again the ecclesial aspect of prayer in Christ's Church as well as reiterating those themes of the previous five. One of these was that prominent theme of Andrewes, "obedience" to God, that is, we pray according to His precepts, which in turn means that "service and duty which we owe to Him." Such precepts direct that we pray at "certain hours": for lay-people that means "three times a day" and for the clergy "seven times a day" as set down in the psalms (ps.55.17, and ps.119.164). The place where we are to pray is in His "dominion" and so the first requirement for prayer is public where priest and people gather to worship God in "the Liturgy and the public service of God". In public prayer he emphasised the importance of the office of the priest who is the mediator between God and his people, and as such intercedes on behalf of them. The Lord's Prayer, ever said by the Church, must be the framework of prayer, declared Andrewes. There are four parts, which are summarised under the two headings "of confession and petition". Under confession there is both confessionem fraudis, ... that is, "confession of sins", and "confessio laudis, that is, thanksgiving to God for His goodness in pardoning our sins, and bestowing His benefits upon us". With petition there is both "comprecation and deprecation". The former seeks for good things, while the latter desires "that evil be removed". Included in our petitions is the prayer "proceeding from charity" which leads the Church to pray for all sorts and conditions of men, from those in authority to those with special needs such as the sick and poor. At the end of this last preparatory prayer sermon, Andrewes commented that "we have need to be instructed in the sense of the Lord's Prayer", that prayer "penned by our Saviour Christ on behalf of His disciples and His Church unto the end of the world". In accordance with this, he gave sermons on each petition. Of all the prayers offered to God each day he described the Pater Noster as the prayer of charity and fraternity because there is no 'I' nor 'mine', nor 'my', but rather 'our' and 'us'. It is 'our Father', 'our bread', 'our trespasses', and deliver 'us' from evil'.
When we pray 'our Father', it should remind us that we are but one of God's children. He is the Father of us all, and consequently it should be 'a pledge of our love' towards our brethren - what we pray for ourselves, we pray for others. Hence we pray that our brethren will be delivered from evil as well as ourselves; we pray that they with us will receive daily bread; and we pray that they and we, all sinners, need God's forgiveness. Moreover we must also pray for those brethren who are our enemies, that God may have mercy upon them as well as ourselves.
The image of God as Father conveys all that Fatherhood implies. His paternity covers all creation, but especially man. He provides for us; He never stops loving us; He wants to give us good things, but He will also chasten us when we need it. We, as His children may forget our duty to our heavenly Father, but He never ceases to love us. He is always waiting for us to say 'I will return to my Father.' "Father" also reminds us that God made man in "His own image [and] ... breathed into him life immortal", and after the fall rescued him by giving him "a second birth" to make him "the son of God" with an entrance "'into the kingdom of God.'" Finally Father assures us of the life to come with Him in heaven.
Who art in heaven
We are reminded that our Father dwells in heaven on His throne in all His glory. This should in turn inspire us to pray with devotion and reverence to Him who always provides both our bodily and spiritual needs. As Tertullian said, 'no Father, so fatherly,' It also conveys that as God's children, heaven is our native land, and we are but sojourners and pilgrims on this earth. As citizens of this higher realm we must constantly lift up our hearts to heaven so that we can have the image of God imprinted on our being in order to seek the things above. In the life to come we have a lively hope, distinct from a dead hope only in this life.
Hallowed be Thy Name
This is the first of the seven petitions, and it is the only one concerned with God. Hence before seeking our own and our brethren's needs, we pray that God's name will be sanctified as He alone is holy. As we ponder on the holiness of God other manifestations of holiness should come to us such as His day, the Church, His priests, the sacraments, creation and our fellow brothers and sisters.
When we hallow His name we give God great delight and pleasure, and we join the angels in their sanctus, sanctus, sanctus. This petition also reminds us that we must not curse the Holy name, and that we must pray for those who do. We must also not give any glory to ourselves but only to God as everything we have comes from Him. When we reverence God's name it also helps us to fight the sin of pride, so much rooted in us. Above all the petition tells us of our true vocation:
If while we remain on earth our whole desire be to sanctify God's name, we shall at length come to the place where we shall say and might sing as the Cherubims do, and with the heavenly host of Angels sing, 'Glory to God on high;' we shall fall down before His throne, saying always, 'Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour and praise for ever.'
Thy kingdom come
This is the first of the six petitions that concern us. In the first three we petition for good things whilst in the other three we pray "for the removing of evil". This petition speaks of the Kingdom itself, and the coming of the Kingdom. We may wonder how can we pray for the coming of God's kingdom when it already exists. Andrewes therefore made the distinction between the universal kingdom of God and the kingdom of glory for which Christ has taught us to pray, and which has been committed to Him by the Father. It is this kingdom that still has its enemies: Satan, sin and death, and it is only when all are conquered that the kingdom of glory will reign.
There is also the spiritual kingdom, called the kingdom of grace, which dwells within us. If we do not possess this kingdom we can never partake of the other kingdom, and therefore we must entreat the Holy Spirit to plant in our hearts all that is good and to drive out all that is evil, so that Satan and sin do not set up "their thrones in our hearts". Then we can be like the saints of old in their pursuit of the Kingdom of glory, summed up in their prayer, 'Maranatha'.
Thy will be done
Of course to "obtain the kingdom of glory" God's will must be done. Not everyone who says, "'Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of God, but he that shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven.'" Thus the door to the Kingdom opens by the doing of God's will. However Andrewes declared that in essence it is "not so much that God's will may be done, but rather that what God willeth may be our will". We must not wrestle nor struggle against it, but patiently submit our wills to His as Christ manifested in the garden of Gethesemane. To be obedient to God's will two things are required. 1. To lay aside our own will and say "convert my froward and unwilling will into Thy will." If we find that our will is contrary to God's, then we must "pull it up by the roots". 2. To have "a baser conceit of our own will and a high and reverend opinion of God's." We must not trust "our reason and understanding" to direct our wills as this is "perverse" but only to God's grace to direct it. Then we can be assured in our consciences that we have done the will of God and we shall enjoy that "peace and joy of the Holy Spirit", "a pledge" to us "of the Kingdom of glory".
In earth as it is in heaven
In this petition we pray "that God's name may be sanctified in earth as it is in heaven, for the accomplishment of His will on earth, and then for the consummation of His kingdom. The petition is also a reminder to keep our flesh into subjection so that the old Adam in us continues to die to the new in Christ as commenced in our baptism.
We are also to desire that while we live here on earth that our conversation will be heavenly. Just as the angels and saints in heaven fulfil God's commandments, we also pray that we may cheerfully labour like them and that our carnal hearts may be applied to the meditation of heaven to make us "saints in earth".
It reminds us too that Christ is both of heaven and earth. As "the head of His Church" He is in heaven, but in respect of His body, which is called Christ, He is on earth. Therefore we also pray that the Church may do God's will, even as Christ the head does in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
In a sense this is all nature's prayer for not only we but also all creatures on earth and in the air call upon God for their sustenance. Yet there is a difference between them and us; they require only corporal food, but we also need spiritual food which is the heavenly manna received at the Eucharist. We ask for "bread" because without it we cannot serve Him, or desire the glory of His kingdom, or pray for grace of the Holy Spirit to do His will. We also ask for "our bread", and thus we pray for the sustenance of our fellow man. We must note that we pray for "daily" bread, that is sufficient for the needs of to-day, not for to-morrow, nor the next day but simply for hodie. Praying for daily sustenance however does not excuse us from our daily labour, even though all things are given to us from God's free bounty.
And forgive us our debts
This and the next two petitions are called deprecations, that is, for the removing of evil. There are three: sins past, sins to come, and the evil of punishment. Again in this petition we pray not only for our forgiveness of past sins but also for those of our brothers. All these sins, as great as they are, God will forgive and give us grace to repent so that our lives can be transformed into a state of grace.
We need too to ask for remission for those sins that proceed from some part of us, because they form a partition between God and us; they separate us from God's grace and blessings, and hinder our prayers. Andrewes suggested that we should therefore perceive sin as like a cloud which prevents our prayers reaching God. So if we do not desire the forgiveness of sins, all other prayers are in vain as well as excluding us from God's kingdom.
The petition should also remind us that God granted to man something that He did not give to the fallen angels, a chance to repent for the remission of sins. Hence we should acknowledge ourselves as sinners, indeed daily sinners and express out thankfulness for forgiveness of sins. Therefore our comfort is that we seek continually forgiveness from our Father, and as His children, though great sinners, yet we cannot lose His love and mercy. He is always ready to forgive our sins be they little or great. Nevertheless we must strive to die unto sin as Christ died for our sins. This means that we not only confess them, but we are truly sorry for them and earnestly desire to conquer them.
As we forgive them that trespass against us
In this petition we again show our charity to our neighbour for if we desire God's forgiveness for our sins, we must not only not hate our brother, but if he offends us we must forgive him. God wants us to be long-suffering with our brother as He is with us. As we run into debt daily with God, we must have the same measure of charity towards others. This is God's way of establishing peace on earth amongst men. If our hearts tell us that we have forgiven our brother, we can be assured that God has forgiven us. By forgiving others we are fitter for God's service, whilst the opposite is also true that if we do not forgive others, we cannot live unto God. But if we release our brother, then God releases us.
God has made a covenant with us in that He binds Himself to forgive us our sins upon the condition that we forgive others; but if we forgive not, then His covenant is void. It should also remind us that there is a great difference in our forgiving others and God's forgiveness of us. Our forgiveness is as a fellow servant; but God is never indebted to us. Forgiveness means forgetting and showing mercy. It is something that we can all do, even the poor, as it costs nothing.
Lead us not into temptation
When we pray these words we are petitioning God to give us the ability to resist sin in the future. If we have asked God to forgive us our sins, we must strive not to sin afresh, and therefore we must strive to overcome the temptations that come to us. It is not enough to confess our sins and to be contrite or of performing acts of mercy to walk in God's way. We must have a resolute purpose to forsake the sins we have committed, and implement Christ's words, "Go thy way and sin no more." Just as the widow by the blessing of God had sufficient oil not only to pay her creditors but also to live, so we must seek of Christ the oil of His grace, both for the discharging of our sins and to live a holy life. Furthermore we must not think ourselves secure when we have received forgiveness of our sins as illustrated so obviously by the Apostles who, after receiving the Sacrament, which is a seal for remission of sin, committed sin shortly afterwards in the Garden. It is when we are cleansed, that we are most in danger and subjection by Satan. Thus we need to pray for grace to withstand Satan's temptations. His temptations are quite different from God's as he induces us to sin and draw us away from God whilst those of God are of afflictions in order to test our faith. Yet the devil's temptations cannot hurt us, if we throw ourselves back on God and His grace.
But deliver us from evil
In the petition we seek to be delivered from the troubles of this life, a petition that will continue until the last enemy, death, is destroyed. We pray that God will take from us all those evils, which the devil desires us to have to ensnare our souls. If we are to be delivered from the power of Satan we must possess the freedom of Christ who is Wisdom and Power and who will free us from evil.
However we must not confuse our praying to be delivered from evil and ofour bearing the cross in this life to Calvary, especially when we suffer innocently. We can never live the Christian life without the cross.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
God's kingdom, so different from an earthly kingdom, is everlasting and universal, and so we pray for that glory which will last forever and ever. Like the Samaritan who returned to give thanks to our Lord, we have a duty to do likewise. Just as this prayer began with a confession of God's goodness, it ends with a confession of God's power as it proclaims the Trinity: Father the glory as King defends His subjects; the Son in conquering death proclaims the kingdom; and the Holy Spirit manifests His power and goodness. It is the duty of subjects to give service to their king and so when we say the doxology we join with the angels and saints who sing of God's honour and power and glory unceasingly.
Andrewes insisted that our duty in praying the Lord's Prayer could not be understood properly unless we comprehend this word aright. Having made our various petitions to God we want to be respected by Him, as we are of His kingdom and under His jurisdiction. In our 'Amen' we ratify all petitions and we confess all glory to God whose faithfulness is like that of a mother. We should also say it as an act of thanksgiving in imitation of the angels singing 'Amen' to God's praise and honour. By fittingly concluding this prayer God will bestow His promises to us. The "Amen" must always be said confidently to show that we look forward to the fulfilment of all the petitions. Yet if we are honest, can we say 'Amen' to all them; for example do we really say 'Amen' to saying 'yes' to God's will and obeying His commandments, or being led from temptation or to hallow God's holy name.
In these sermons Andrewes gave us much to ponder on in our daily lives as Christians. As the saints of old and not so old tell us we daily struggle with temptations from Satan who clearly wants to allure us from God. But as Andrewes tells us "Satan is chained by God so that he cannot go further than God will give him leave, which maketh our comfort." For this very prayerful prelate there is never a time or place or situation that we cannot pray to our heavenly Father whether in praise or petition.