First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people… 1 Timothy 2:1
Dear Friends in Christ,
Different Christian traditions emphasize different practices in their worship services. For some, the focus is the sermon, for others, communion, for others it’s the music. In our liturgy (the pattern of our worship services), we try to make a place for many ways to worship God. Part of this, for us, is praying together. We are not spectators to professionals who are performing for us, rather we are participants in the worship of God. Though we have readers who read scripture for us, preachers who preach and choirs who help us to sing, we all participate in worshipping God together.
We pray in many ways: in singing, in responding in prayer during the Eucharistic Prayer, in saying the Creed together, as individuals praying with intercessors at the side altar during communion, and in the section of the service known as “the Prayers of the People.” The Prayers of the People can follow one of several forms that the prayer book provides, or they can be adapted from these forms, or the prayers can be written from scratch for the parish to use. The prayer book requires that, however the Prayers of the People are expressed, they address these issues:
The Universal Church, its members, and its mission The Nation and all in authority The welfare of the world The concerns of the local community Those who suffer and those in any trouble The departed (with commemoration of a saint when appropriate)
(see Book of Common Prayer, page 359 and further instructions beginning on page 383)
One thing that I and others notice is that the prayer book forms do not always leave time for Thanksgiving, so we have adapted the forms we use to be sure we are offering God thanks as well as petition and intercession. In most of the forms we use, we provide space and time for the people in the pews to add their prayers silently or aloud. I would encourage you to speak your prayers aloud at these times so that others feel free to do so. Usually, this is simply naming someone for whom you pray, or a brief phrase that names your intention, such as “for peace in Ukraine.”
This time of prayer is so crucially important to our worship services. Our time together is not simply for us to “be fed” by the choirs and preachers and scripture readings; we are also to bring ourselves personally and corporately (as a community) before God in prayer. These prayers also inform our personal prayers through the week. For me, I am grateful for the liturgy that calls my attention beyond my individual concerns to the needs and joys of the community and wider world.
Come join in prayer together, whether in small prayer groups (such as gathers on Tuesdays at 2:00PM by the side altar) or in our regular worship services. Bring yourself before God and with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And leave time in your day to listen for God’s replies.
Yours in Christ,