As we all take time to think about Queen Elizabeth’s life and legacy, it’s important to remember how her Christian faith shaped her long and successful reign. In Australia, many mainstream news sources haven’t even mentioned her deep personal faith.
Reverend Dr Mark Durie is a senior Anglican minister in Australia, who writes about faith and culture. He recently joined us on 20Twenty to share his reflections on the Queen’s life, and to express his sadness that her devotion to Jesus hasn’t been talked about much in public reflections.
Service and Faithfulness
‘It’s absolutely clear that she knew the Bible and read it,’ says Mark. ‘There’s been a lot of commentary in the media that made no mention made of her Christian faith, although they did mention her ethos of service and faithfulness. I have absolutely no doubt that those characteristics people admire her for were the fruit of her Christian faith.’
The Queen understood Jesus’ call because, in order to reign, she needed to serve the nation. She was probably one of the most prayed for people in the world in terms of the way that God Save The Queen is a Christian prayer. There was a conviction in the formation of the Book of Common Prayer, that if the ruler of the nation was someone who followed Jesus Christ, the people would be blessed by praying for them to be saved.
‘You were also praying for righteousness and peace in the nation,’ says Mark. ‘The Queen actually lived a demonstration of the power of prayer because she embodied those characteristics. She cared for her people through very difficult times. That’s undoubtedly due to her familiarity with the life of Jesus.’
A Great Example
The Anglican Church in Australia was called the Church of England up until the nineteen seventies but is not actually part of the church. Each diocese is independent. Most people wouldn’t think of the Queen as the head of the Church in Australia, but there’s no doubt that a lot of prayerful concern for Queen Elizabeth has been woven into the tradition of Anglican worship.
‘The Queen has not exercised full power over her domain,’ says Mark. ‘She’s always understood the role of governments and Prime Ministers and supported that. There’s an ancient Christian tradition to pray for our rulers, and I think we should continue to pray for Charles. If Christians could follow their Lord as Elizabeth followed Him, the world would be a much better place. She’s a great example in that regard.’
The actual point of being invested in the office of King or Queen is the anointing that the Archbishop of Canterbury does of the ruler. The word Messiah means the anointed one, and it was customary in the Hebrew scriptures that prophets, priests and kings would be anointed with oil.
‘I really believe in the power of this symbolism,’ says Mark. ‘It’s an important sign of the grace of God. Christianity has many of these signs, including communion which is a sign of receiving the grace of God, and baptism. I’m sure it would have meant a great deal to Queen Elizabeth, and I hope and pray that Charles will enter into that ceremony with a sense of the sovereignty and the power of God.’
The Lord Fights for Us
When people pray for the Queen, they also pray that the Queen will be righteous. The people who follow God know that only He can save the country. Only God fights on our behalf.
‘I think in our culture today we’ve become separated from the idea of a nation under God,’ says Mark. ‘But it’s a very biblical concept that the nations have to give an account of themselves to the Lord who is the King of kings. It would be good for us to see ourselves as being under the sovereignty and care of God.’
Queen Elizabeth knew she was accountable to God, and God was her life. There’s a wonderful comfort for every individual to turn to their creator, the one who made them and loves them, and offer their lives back to Him. We need to offer ourselves for God to use for His purposes and glory and trust Him that our lives will be meaningful in serving Him. That was the secret to Queen Elizabeth. She knew that with all her heart.
Reach out to God
‘I would encourage people to reach out to God,’ says Mark. ‘You need to speak to God and just say You God. You are my father. God, you created me. Help me. I’d like to know You. If Queen Elizabeth could know the Lord, just as a simple woman kneeling down by a bed to pray, anyone can.’
‘She overcame all the influence and wealth and was reduced to a person who loved God and was able to live that way, despite all the pressures of her office. I think anyone can do that.’