The following was included in the Prayers of the Church from Let us pray, put out by the LCMS for December 9, 2012; also known as the Second Sunday in Advent.
Holy One, because we in ourselves could not abide the Day of Your coming in judgment, Your Son gave up His body and blood for our forgiveness and now gives it to us as the very righteousness by which we may stand before You without shame. Stir up in Your children faith to receive His coming to us in the Eucharist with joy. Lord, in Your mercy,
Now normally, on non-communion Sunday’s I skip the petitions involving the preparation of hearts for the reception of Holy Communion for the simple reason that communion will not be celebrated at that particular service.
I said ‘normally’ because today I did include the above petition, even though we would not be receiving Holy Communion today.
I did so because it struck me that we will be receiving Holy Communion next Sunday, and that the petition could very well be prayed that the hearts and minds of those gathered would be prepared for the reception of Christ’s holy body and blood next Sunday.
And that may be a better way to pray this petition then to pray it with the reception of Holy Communion less than 10 minutes away. Communion is not something to be received lightly, and preparations for its reception should be made more than 10 minutes prior. Yes, in that 10 minutes, the liturgy will be followed, the Words of Institution will be spoken, and maybe if you are sitting towards the back of the church a hymn or two will be sung, but is that really how one is told to prepare for receiving the Lord’s Supper?
At the very least one should review their Catechism on Saturday night, review Dr. Luther’s Twenty Christian Questions and Answers. If not, then upon arriving for the service, one should pray a few of the collects asking for a right spirit as one prepares to receive communion. And then if nothing else, everything in the service prior to receiving communion is meant to prepare one, including the hymns, the readings and the sermon.
By the time the Prayers of the Church are prayed, one should be ready to receive, and now can focus fully on hearing the Words of Institution spoken and be reminded once more that this simple bread and wine are indeed Christ’s true body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
So start praying today, that by the time next Sunday rolls around, you would be prepared to receive Holy Communion.