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HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.

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"Others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise" Heb 11:36-39

HOME > Prayers, Hymns & Poems > Prayer for the Church by John Foxe

"Private Prayers of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth"

Edited for
The Parker Society
by William Keatinge Clay

1851 Edition
Work is underway to re-publish: Hail & Fire REPRINTS 2008

Private Prayers of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth edited for The Parker Society by William Keatinge Clay

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Private Prayers of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, 
Edited for The Parker Society by William Keatinge Clay

"Prayer for the Church,
and all the states thereof"

by John Foxe

Preaching at Paul's cross on Good Friday, about the year 1578, John Foxe concluded his sermon with these words: 'And now let us pray, as we began, making our earnest invocation to Almighty God for the universal state of Christ's church, and all other estates and degrees in order particularly, as custom, and also duty, requireth.'

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who wast crucified for our sins, and didst rise again for our justification, and, ascending up to heaven, reignest now at the right hand of the Father, with full power and authority, ruling and disposing all things according to thine own gracious and glorious purpose: we, sinful creatures, and yet servants and members of thy church, do prostrate ourselves and our prayers before thy imperial majesty, having no other patron nor advocate to speed our suits, or to resort unto, but thee alone, beseeching thee to be good to thy poor church militant here in this wretched earth; sometime a rich church, a large church, an universal church, spread far and wide, through the whole compass of the earth; now driven into a narrow corner of the world, and hath much need of thy gracious help.

First, the Turk with his sword, what lands, what nations, and countries, what empires, kingdoms, and provinces, with cities
John Foxe, author of Acts and Monuments (abridged and expanded versions are known as Foxes Book of Martyrs) John Foxe, author of "Acts and Monuments"
(abridgements known as "The Book of Martyrs")
innumerable, hath he won, not from us, but from thee. Where thy name was wont to be invocated, thy word preached, thy sacraments administered, there now remaineth barbarous Mahumet, with his filthy Alcoran. The flourishing churches in Asia, the learned churches of Grecia, the manifold churches in Africa, which were wont to serve thee, now are gone from thee. The seven churches of Asia with their candlesticks (whom thou didst so well forewarn) are now removed. All the churches, where thy diligent apostle St Paul, thy apostles Peter and John, and other apostles, so laboriously travailed, preaching and writing to plant thy gospel, are now gone from thy gospel. In all the kingdom of Syria, Palestina, Arabia, Persia, in all Armenia, and the empire of Cappadocia, through the whole compass of Asia, with Egypt, and with Africa also (unless among the far Ethiopians some old steps of Christianity peradventure do yet remain), either else in all Asia and Africa thy church hath not one foot of free land, but is all turned either to infidelity or to captivity, whatsoever pertaineth to thee. And if Asia and Africa only were decayed, the decay were great, but yet the defection were not so universal.

Now of Europa a great part also is shrunk from thy church. All Thracia, with the empire of Constantinople, all Grecia, Epirus, Illyricum, and now of late all the kingdom almost of Hungaria, with much of Austria, with lamentable slaughter of Christian blood, is wasted, and all become Turks. Only a little angle of the West parts yet remaineth in some profession of thy name.

But here (alack) cometh another mischief, as great, or greater than the other. For the Turk with his sword is not so cruel, but the bishop of Rome on the other side is more fierce and bitter against us; stirring up his bishops to burn us, his confederates to conspire our destruction, setting kings against their subjects, and subjects disloyally to rebel against their princes, and all for thy name.

Such dissension and hostility Sathan hath sent among us, that Turks be not more enemies to Christians, than Christians to Christians, papists to protestants: yea, protestants with protestants do not agree, but fall out for trifles. So that the poor little flock of thy church, distressed on every side, hath neither rest without, nor peace within, nor place almost in the world, where to abide, but may cry now from the earth, even as thine own reverence cried once from the cross: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Amongst us Englishmen here in England, after so great storms of persecution and cruel murder of so many martyrs, it hath pleased thy grace to give us these Alcyon days, which yet we enjoy, and beseech thy merciful goodness still they may continue.

But here also (alack) what should we say? so many enemies we have, that envy us this rest and tranquillity, and do what they can to disturb it.
"Thy singular goodness hath given them a Queen so calm, so patient, so merciful, more like a natural mother than a princess, to govern over them, such as neither they nor their ancestors ever read of in the stories of this land before"
They which be friends and lovers of the bishop of Rome, although they eat the fat of the land, and have the best preferments and offices, and live most at ease, and ail nothing, yet are they not therewith content. They grudge, they mutter and murmur, they conspire and take on against us. It fretteth them, that we live by them, or with them, and cannot abide, that we should draw the bare breathing of the air, when they have all the most liberty of the land.

And albeit thy singular goodness hath given them a Queen so calm, so patient, so merciful, more like a natural mother than a princess, to govern over them, such as neither they nor their ancestors ever read of in the stories of this land before: yet all this will not calm them, their unquiet spirit is not yet content; they repine and rebel, and needs would have, with the frogs of Æsop, a Ciconia [a stork], an Italian stranger, the bishop of Rome, to play Rex over them, and care not, if all the world were set a fire, so that they, with their Italian lord, might reign alone. So fond are we Englishmen of strange and foreign things: so unnatural to ourselves, so greedy of newfangle novelties, never contented with any state long to continue, be it never so good; and, furthermore, so cruel one to another, that we think our life not quiet, unless it be seasoned with the blood of other. For that is their hope, that is all their gaping and looking, that is their golden day, their day of Jubilee, which they thirst for so much: not to have the Lord to come in the clouds, but to have our blood, and to spill our lives. That, that is it, which they would have, and long since would have had their wills upon us, had not thy gracious pity and mercy raised up to us this our merciful Queen, thy servant Elizabeth, somewhat to stay their fury: for whom as we most condignly give thee thanks, so likewise we beseech thy heavenly majesty, that, as thou hast given her unto us, and hast from so manifold dangers preserved her, before she was queen, so now, in her royal estate, she may continually be preserved not only from the hands, but from all malignant devices wrought, attempted, or conceived, of enemies, both ghostly and bodily, against her.

In this her government be her governor, we beseech thee, so shall her majesty well govern us, if first she be governed by thee. Multiply her reign with many days, and her years with much felicity, with abundance of peace and life ghostly: that, as she hath now doubled the years of her sister and brother, so (if it be thy pleasure) she may overgrow in reigning the reign of her father.

And because no government can long stand without good counsel, neither can any counsel be good, except it be prospered by thee: bless, therefore, we beseech thee, both her majesty, and her honourable council, that both they rightly understand what is to be done, and she accordingly may accomplish that they do counsel, to thy glory, and furtherance of the gospel, and public wealth of this realm.

Furthermore, we beseech thee, Lord Jesu, who with the majesty of thy generation dost drown all nobility, being the only Son of God, heir and Lord of all things,
"To all magistrates, such as be advanced to authority, or placed in office, by what name or title soever, give, we beseech thee [Lord], a careful conscience uprightly to discharge their duty ... to serve the common wealth"
bless the nobility of this realm, and of other Christian realms, so as they (Christianly agreeing among themselves) may submit their nobility to serve thee; or else let them feel, O Lord, what a frivolous thing is the nobility, which is without thee.

Likewise, to all magistrates, such as be advanced to authority, or placed in office, by what name or title soever, give, we beseech thee, a careful conscience uprightly to discharge their duty; that, as they be public persons to serve the common wealth, so they abuse not their office to their private gain, nor private revenge of their own affections, but that, justice being administered without bribery, and equity balanced without cruelty or partiality, things that be amiss may be reformed, vice abandoned, truth supported, innocency relieved, God's glory maintained, and the commonwealth truly served.

But especially, to thy spiritual ministers, bishops, and pastors of thy church, grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, Prince of all pastors, that they, following the steps of thee, of thy apostles, and holy martyrs, may seek those things which be not their own, but only which be thine, not caring how many benefices nor what great bishopricks they have, but how well they can guide those they have. Give them such zeal of thy church, as may devour them, and grant them such salt, wherewith the whole people may be seasoned, and which may never be unsavoury, but quickened daily by thy Holy Spirit, whereby thy flock by them may be preserved.

In general, give to all the people, and the whole state of this realm, such brotherly unity in knowledge of thy truth, and such obedience to their superiors, as they neither provoke the scourge of God against them, nor their prince's sword to be drawn against her will out of the scabbard of long sufferance, where it hath been long hid. Especially, give thy gospel long continuance amongst us. And, if our sins have deserved the contrary, grant us, we beseech thee, with an earnest repentance of that which is past, to join a hearty purpose of amendment to come.

And forasmuch as the bishop of
"The Bishop of Rome is wont on every Good Friday to accurse us, damned heretics, we curse not him, but pray for him, that he with all his partakers ... may be turned to a better truth"
Rome is wont on every Good Friday to accurse us, [as] damned heretics, we curse not him, but pray for him, that he with all his partakers either may be turned to a better truth; or else, we pray thee, gracious Lord, that we never agree with him in doctrine, and that he may so curse us still, and never bless us more, as he blessed us in queen Mary's time. God, of thy mercy keep away that blessing from us.

Finally, instead of the pope's blessing give us thy blessing, Lord, we beseech thee, and conserve the peace of thy church, and course of thy blessed gospel. Help them that be needy and afflicted. Comfort them that labour and be heavy laden. And, above all things, continue and increase our faith.

And forasmuch as thy poor little flock can scarce have any place or rest in this world, come, Lord, we beseech thee, with thy factum est, and make an end, that this world may have no more time nor place here, and that thy church may have rest for ever.

For these, and all other necessities requisite to be begged and prayed for, asking in thy Christ's name, and as he hath taught us, we say: Our Father, which art in heaven &c.

Prayer of John Foxe, excerpt from "Private Prayers of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth," (The Parker Society)



"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Mat 5:43-48 KJV
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