“Messy Praying”

Messy praying
The most ragged part of worship in many congregations occurs in the transition into praying the Lord’s Prayer. Some worship leaders launch into the prayer and expect the congregation to catch up by the second or third petition. A few say, “Let’s say together the Lord’s Prayer,” as if the congregation is being summoned to recitation rather than profound prayer. Other leaders jabber at this point, “Now we all are going to join together in praying the Lord’s Prayer,” thereby obscuring by their chatter the powerful words of that prayer.
A welcome feature in Evangelical Lutheran Worship is the recommendation of a simple step to prepare people for that prayer. Unfortunately, the text was not provided in the pew edition but is only in the leader’s edition. Apparently, many worship leaders do not spend time in the leader’s edition.
Following the Eucharistic Prayer or the Words of Institution, the presider may say:
“Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us.” Another option is  “Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray.”  Sometimes, I say simply, “As our Savior taught us, so we pray,” and then everyone can begin with strength praying, “Our Father in heaven…” or “Our Father, who art in heaven…”
We can prepare the congregation simply and clearly to unite in prayer with a consistent liturgical introduction.
A New Year
We begin a new year in the liturgical life of the church on the First Sunday in Advent, December 3. We enter that day a season of grand expectation and holy hope. So, we pray anew, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Sincerely in Christ,
The Rev. Lowell G. Almen
Bishop

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