Praying the Creed


Austin Farrer


Praying the creed’ was the first chapter in a Lent Book published by Faith Press in 1955. A second edition was published in 1958. They are suggestions for turning the Creed into prayer. This short book on the Apostles’ Creed is one of Farrer’s very best, and perfectly expresses his personal union of doctrinal and devotional theology. Here we have a prayerful approach to Christian doctrine and belief. Here, he is not so much concerned with objective facts but on subjective involvement, commitment and prayer, not so much with what is going on in the head but what is going on in the heart in relationship with God – the seeking of truth through the heart rather than the head – what the early Christian teachers described as putting the head into the heart – isn’t that what happens when two people fall in love? So it is when you fall in love with God.

Here, his rule is: ‘No dogma deserves its place unless it is prayable, and no Christian deserves his dogmas who does not pray them.’

Prayer and dogma

No doubt the way of prayer is your way of establishing conviction and belief that you may not have thought of in quite this way or that it works like this. Farrer is saying that prayer and dogma are inseparable. ‘They alone can explain each other. Either without the other is meaningless and dead. If he hears a dogma of faith discussed as a cool speculation, about which theories can be held and arguments propounded, the Christian cannot escape disquiet. ‘What are these people doing?’ he will ask. ‘Do not they know what they are discussing? How can they make it an open question, what is the country which they enter when they pray?’’


The active use of faith

‘The truth of Christ is living truth… It is not merely conceptualizing in the head. Truth will do much for us unknown to us, clear  ing our eyes, and purging our heart, when we seem to be observing the merest custom of prayer when we give ourselves to listening to God. The often truth will shine and strike us: ‘What have I been thinking? What have I been missing? How could I be such a fool, to forget Jesus in my friends, and to see them as so many claimants, rivals, bores, obstacles, instruments? Such a fool (but it was worse than folly) as to turn steadily from the will of God, which alone is my bread and sunlight and breathable air, and fill my hours with self-seeking?’ Then we are broken-hearted and then we rejoice, broken-hearted at what we have refused to see, but rejoicing more, because we see it; and we go on in our prayer to express some rudi  ments of love for our neighbour and our God, and devise some way for giving that love effect.’

‘Prayer is the active use or exercise of faith; and the creed defines the contours of that world on which faith trains her eyes… No dogma deserves its place unless it is prayable, and no Christian deserves his dogmas who does not pray them.’

Edited by Arthur Middleton