Through the year as a church we have focused on prayer. On the first Sunday of the month our speakers have looked at the prayers of various people in the Bible. Our first blog post each month has also concentrated on prayer. This week Kate looks at Mary’s prayer commonly known as The Magnificat.
Praying with…Mary (Luke 1:46-55)
The Christmas Story
The book of Luke tells the story of Jesus and the first part is what we would know as the Christmas story. The angel Gabriel visits Mary in Nazareth who is a virgin pledged to marry a man named Joseph. Gabriel tells her she will conceive a son called Jesus who will be the son of God.
Mary then visits her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant and will become John the Baptist. We are not actually told that Elizabeth is aware Mary is also pregnant and destined to be the mother of the messiah but on seeing her she exclaims, ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you bear! But why am I so favoured that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ (v42). We can therefore assume that as soon as they greet one another, Elizabeth has a revelation of what has happened to Mary which must have been a great encouragement to her.
The words of Mary’s prayer in Luke 1 are famous; many people throughout history have put music to her words. The first thing that struck me when I read it was that it sounds like something we would hear as a contribution on a Sunday morning during worship or at a prayer meeting.
It begins with praise, it starts with how God has treated her before she extends her praise to how God has treated the righteous throughout history and how He will redeem them in the future. This is a song full of joy as she expresses how God cares for us and acts on our behalf. She speaks about his character and acknowledges his goodness. She recognises her humble state as His servant and acknowledges Him as sovereign master. Her humility forms the basis of her gratitude.
One thing Mary knows is that God keeps his word. Mary knew God himself was coming to Earth! Not only that He was to grow inside her and she had been chosen to give birth to Him.
Her response to encountering God
Her response to the crazy situation she finds herself in is praise. She doesn’t start inwardly – ’Oh God, what about this? What about that?’
Imagine for a moment the reality of the situation she finds herself in. She was a woman and most likely a teenager. The calling on her life was going to cost her everything – her body, reputation, her safety, her future marriage. It is hard to imagine that many people in her community believed her story.
Ultimately her calling meant she had to watch her son die on the cross. This was a costly call! But she is willing to lay down her life for God. The angel did not give her any assurances when he came, she is only told a little bit of information but yet her heart and mouth respond in praise.
Secure in God’s love
We can see from her prayer that she is secure in God’s loyal love. Her prayer starts from a place of thankfulness and praise, ‘My soul glorifies the lord, my spirit rejoices in God my saviour’.
Mary shows us how she starts from a secure place as a daughter of the living God with a thankful heart for all He has done. She lingers here on the goodness of God.
In verse 49 she calls him ‘mighty one’. Just like Mary as we respond to God in praise through prayer we keep in mind we are praying to God the Almighty.
Secure in her faith
Mary’s prayer is full of faith. She believed in something she could not yet see. She knew what she was carrying – she was literally carrying the salvation of the world and prophesied this over herself. In verse 47 Mary calls God her saviour. In Mary’s prayer we see that she believed for what she could not yet see. She wholeheartedly received and believed the word given to her by the angel.
I heard Kris Vallotton once say, the world says, ‘if I see it I’ll believe it’ but faith says ‘if you believe it you’ll see it’ or ‘I believe and therefore I see’. We were called by faith and now we live by faith. If you are a Christian you have faith!
Secure in her identity
As she prays we can see Mary was secure in her identity. Despite her humble position she says she will be honoured by all generations. Generations will see her as an example of a simple human touched by divine power. She is also so honoured to have been chosen.
1 Corinthians 6:20 says all of us belong to God. He’s calling you by name, there’s favour on your life. The Lord is speaking your name over you and He’s saying I’ve found favour with you. He’s speaking promises and destiny inside of you. He wants you to believe what He says about you!
Mary was the first person on earth to know the human form of Jesus and this prayer was her response.
What was your first reaction when you met Jesus for the first time? How did it feel? What did you think?
Simon and Kate’s talk tells us more about Mary: Praying with Mary