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April 28, 2019: All Souls Pray • The Prayers of the People

by James Knight

The phone rings and my mother, an Anglican priest, picks up. The caller is unwell and can’t lead the prayers at that morning’s Eucharist. Here begins a regular Sunday morning in a Church in Wales vicarage: rifling through intercessions prepared in months or years past to adapt existing material in light of the week’s events.

While those leading intercessions in Anglican churches in the U.K. often prepare them in the run-up to that Sunday’s service, the challenge, here, there, or elsewhere, is the same – to deliver intercessions that capture the message in the Lectionary readings, reflect the time of year in the Church’s calendar, and incorporate pressing world issues or specific concerns of the congregation. The Episcopal Church provides a useful guide to the topics covered by the Prayers of the People: “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; and the departed” (see the Book of Common Prayer, pp. 383-393).

With this morning’s prayers we follow that structure and give the prayers an Easter theme, focused on the resurrection and on new life. The opening prayer, for the Universal Church, reminds us that we are part of a long line of Christians, tracing back to those present that Easter morning: “We pray for your church, as inheritors of the resurrection witness. Give to all Christians the strength and courage to share your life-changing love.”

As with any writing, one of the hardest things can be staring at a blank page. A wealth of resources online and in print provides a scaffold from which to craft original prayers. I recommend the article “Advice on Leading Intercessions” at www.layanglicana.org.

Finally, the act of preparing prayers should itself be a prayerful one. A quiet room or the right music, a lit candle or some incense. While everyone will have their own approach, as I sit down with a coffee in front of my computer to begin to write, I say a little prayer to guide me on my way. And if in doubt, I can always call my mother for inspiration.      

This week’s Message is part of a series reflecting on different prayer practices as they are experienced at All Souls. James also wrote the version of the Prayers of the People that we will use at All Souls this Easter season.

Last Published: April 25, 2019 4:13 PM
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