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The Advent Bidding Prayer

Updated: Apr 11

The season of Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and is the time set aside when Christians around the world prepare their hearts for the coming of Christ. Advent is all about slowing down, waiting, and longing for the fulfillment of God’s purposes.

As a young mom with four little kids, the season of Advent was anything but those things! It was not the most wonderful time of the year, it was the most stressful time! There were sugar highs, presents to buy, cookies to make, and so many activities to go to! For me, the season of Advent was hectic and filled with anxiety.

Remembering Christ

One of the things that centered me every year was the Bidding Prayer from the Anglican service of Advent Lessons and Carols. It’s called a “bidding prayer” because it’s bidding us, inviting us, to enter into Advent with all our hearts. It invites us to “let it be our care and delight” to step out of the frantic pace of this world and to hear again the message of the Angels, that a Savior had been born to us which is Christ the Lord. Here’s the first part of the Bidding Prayer:

Beloved in Christ, in this season of Advent, let it be our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the Angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem, to see the Babe lying in a manger. Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by his holy Child, and let us look forward to the yearly remembrance of his birth with hymns and songs of praise…

The bidding prayer was written by an Anglican priest named Eric Milner-White. He served as an army chaplain during the First World War on both the Western Front and in the Italian Campaign. He returned home from the war on January 5, 1918, and was made the Dean of King’s College. Within his first year of being home, he introduced the Lessons and Carols service along with his beautiful bidding prayer on Christmas Eve, 1918.

Remembering the World

Though it begins by remembering Christ, the Bidding Prayer does not retreat from the world. Its second section invites us to remember in our prayers “the needs of the whole world:”

let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for peace and goodwill over all the eart