O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, 1979 ed.)
O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, 1928 ed.)
LORDE we beseche the mercyfullye to receive the praiers of thy people which cal upon thee; and graunt that they maie both perceave and knowe what thinges they ought to do, and also have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same. (Book of Common Prayer, 1549 ed.)
Today's collect was originally included in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and was the collect appointed for the First Sunday after the Epiphany. It survives today in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and is appointed as today's collect (Proper 10). It's an ancient collect. As C. Frederick Barbee reminds us, "this Collect was appointed in the Gregorian Sacramentary and was included in the Book of Common Prayer through its use at Salisbury Cathedral."1
Barbee also tells us that this collect was loosely based on the following passages of Scripture:
And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. Luke 12:47 (ESV)
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:17 (ESV)
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17 (ESV)
If you're like you me, you often need to pray for guidance. This prayer is a prayer for a person seeking what he/she ought to do. It's a vertical prayer - a prayer between the pray-er and God. So, today, as you pray those words, remember you are not alone. We join the saints of the past in seeking God's will and asking for the grace and power to not only understand it but to do it.
1C. Frederick Barbee. The Collects of Thomas Cranmer (Kindle Location 247). Kindle Edition.