I have been invited to write intercessory prayers for Sundays and Seasons, an Augsburg Fortress worship resource. That invitation made me think about the different kinds of prayer and my experience creating them.
I realize that some people will scoff at the idea of someone else writing their prayers for them. I know how many people believe that their relationship with God is their own personal thing, and they wouldn't dream of using words created by someone else. That would be like using other people's words in your relationship with your beloved. Who would do that?
I could argue that we do it all the time--witness the wide greeting card world. And likewise, throughout the history of the Church, Christians have prayed using words that others have written.
I've written before, in numerous places, about my experience over the past few years writing prayers for Bread for the Day, which is a book of devotions. I was given the reading for the day and asked to create a prayer. It was a wonderful experience.
Intercessory prayers are different. Perhaps the most major difference: prayers of intercession are designed to be used in a group setting. You may have prayed this way in church or camp without even realizing that you're doing intercessory prayer. The pastor/leader prays a sentence or two, gives a signal at the end (like "Lord in your mercy,") and the congregation/group says a given response (like "hear our prayer").
As with Bread for the Day, I'll be given the readings, and I'll be aware of where we are in both the liturgical and seasonal world. Since I'm working on a resource that won't be used until the future, I won't refer to specific current events.
When I first got the invitation, I thought, have I written these kind of prayers before? We've done a bit of this kind of writing in camp settings, but I was part of a group, not on my own. I'm intrigued to see how this process will be similar and yet different.
Some congregations may be shocked at the idea that the intercessory prayers come from outside of their local church. Perhaps you thought your pastor labored over those prayers week after week. Some pastors do.
Or maybe you're saying, "Aren't these the prayers of the people? Why aren't the people writing them?" For the same reason that we aren't reinventing the service or rewriting liturgy week after week, even though it might be immensely satisfying: many of us are just too busy to meet those weekly deadlines.
When I told my spouse about this invitation, he said, "Cool! That's my favorite kind of prayer!"
I had no idea that intercessory prayer was my spouse's favorite kind of prayer. I've known this man for 30 years, and I didn't know that fact. There's still so much to discover.
As I make discoveries along the path of writing intercessory prayer, I'll report back.
feeling the feelings…
2 months ago