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1Praying With Anothers Words David A.

deSilva A visitor walking into a United Methodist congregation might open the b lletin and be con!ronted with several paragraphs in bold type thro gho t the order o! service. She wo ld see re!erences to pages in the United Methodist Hymnal" where she wo ld discover more printed words" some in bold type !or #the congregation$ to say. A!ter the service ended and she went o!! to meet a !riend !or l nch" she might % i! she is like many !rom non&lit rgical traditions % comment that #the service was alright" b t ' really dont like rote prayers.$ (er reaction wo ld no do bt have been stronger had she visited the Episcopal ch rch in town. S ch a criticism re!lects a pre) dice that the prayer o!!ered sing words written by another is not as gen ine as the prayer o!!ered e*temporaneo sly #!rom the heart.$ 't identi!ies % correctly" ' wo ld say % the distance between the words o! the prayer and the heart o! the one praying as a ma)or problem. + t we too , ickly move !rom this observation to the concl sion that the printed words are the tro ble. -he distance between the heart and the written prayer may be a sign o! how !ar that heart has strayed !rom desiring what .od promises and loving what .od commands" and so it becomes a distance that the heart needs to travel to come closer to where .od desires it to be. Praying #by rote$ is" indeed" a danger. -hose who spend their lives in lit rgical traditions do !ind themselves going on #a to&pilot$ every now and again. S ch people may need to remember to p t their hearts and minds into their words. + t those who are nac, ainted with the rich heritage o! !ormational prayer given to s by lit rgical ch rches may need to p t the words into their hearts and minds. Engaging a Collect as Spiritual Direction -here is some con! sion among /hristians abo t those things !or which we o ght to pray" and what we o ght to e*pect !rom .od in prayer. Prayers easily become #wish lists$ o! things we wo ld like to receive or see happen in the circ mstances aro nd s. + t what does God want to see happen in yo 0 What is Gods agenda as yo approach .od in prayer0 1it rgical prayers" s ch as those !o nd in the +ook o! /ommon Prayer" have m ch to teach s abo t this agenda" directing o r prayers and desires toward .ods agenda. -he problem o! nanswered prayer is o!ten not a lack o! !aith on o r part or a lack o! concern on .ods part" b t" as 2ames diagnosed" asking wrongly 32as 456&78. Praying is not abo t getting .od to give s what we want9 it is abo t learning to want what .od wants to give. 1it rgical prayer is one means by which the /h rch helps s to ask rightly5 #So that we may obtain o r petitions" make s to ask s ch things as will please yo .$1 1it rgical prayers help trim away what is sel!&serving in o r conversation with .od and open o r minds and hearts to the ! ll range o! what .od desires to work in s" among s" and thro gh s. An element common to many !orms o! lit rgical worship is the #/ollect o! the Day"$ taken !rom a cycle o! prayers !or every S nday and holy day o! the ch rch year. A #collect$ is a prayer that seeks to gather p and e*press the petitions o! the assembled worshipers" inviting them to make this the !oc s o! their individ al longings and prayers. Where we might come be!ore .od with o r private agendas" the /ollect o! the Day can !acilitate .ods invasion into o r lives with his agenda" partic larly i! we #take it home"$ as it were" and se it as a basis !or re!lection" e*amination" and prayer.

/ollect !or the -enth S nday a!ter -rinity 3192 !rayer "oo# o$ the Episcopal Church8.

/onsider" !or e*ample" the /ollect !or the 1st S nday in Advent5 Almighty .od" give s grace to cast away the works o! darkness" and p t on the armor o! light" now in the time o! this mortal li!e in which yo r Son 2es s /hrist came to visit s in great h mility9 that in the last day" when he shall come again in his glorio s ma)esty to ) dge both the living and the dead" we may rise to the li!e immortal. Whatever concerns or interests may occ py my attention as ' come to prayer" this collect identi!ies other needs and priorities and directs my attention there. Above all the items on my own agenda" it etches in bold what .od is deeply concerned to see happen in my li!e5 /ASAWA: -(; W<=>S <? DA=>@;SS9 PU- <@ -(; A=M<= <? 1'.(-. -his collect s mmons me to sel!&e*amination5 What works o! darkness are mani!esting themselves in my attit des" ambitions" speech" and behaviors0 What is at work in me behind these mani!estations" abo t which ' need to seek .ods intervention0 't also calls me to a new attentiveness and orientation as ' ret rn to my work and my relationships" to g ard against p rs ing my own goals in any s ch way as makes room !or the works o! darkness" only seeking to do as m ch as can be done com!ortably while wearing the armor o! light. 't also recalls to my mind" in the midst o! my own !renetic involvements" that larger story o! which ' cannot a!!ord to lose sight" with which mine will intersect on the day /hrist ret rns as Deliverer and 2 dge. -he time o! #this mortal li!e$ is a gi!t" an opport nity to be wisely sed" !or" in the words o! 2ohn Donne" # pon every min te o! this li!e depend millions o! years in the ne*t.$ -he collect reminds me that there are more important deadlines than those imposed by my own work or wishes" and there are some deadlines toward which one really does need to work ahead and work consistently. -he collect also co nsels h mility. 't does this s btly" by speaking o! 2es s willingness to share in #this mortal li!e"$ an act which re, ired great h mility on his part !rom !irst to last. -his mortal li!e is the time !or h mility" and i! !or /hrist how m ch more !or meA ' am called to h mility be!ore .od as ' embrace what .od wants to work in my li!e above my own agenda" and as ' lower the de!enses o! the image ' wish to pro)ect to others and to mysel! be!ore .ods cleansing scr tiny. 't is the time !or h mility be!ore others" as" in the words o! another prayer" ' am challenged to #seek to serve /hrist in them$ rather than manip late them into serving my agenda. -he collect th s reminds me that h mility is the breastplate o! the armor o! light. As a spirit al e*ercise" and as a means o! tapping into the reso rces !or spirit al direction provided in lit rgical worship" ' wo ld enco rage yo to pray re!lectively thro gh the cycle o! /ollects in the +ook o! /ommon Prayer"6 or ) st thro gh a !ew samples" with the !ollowing , estions in mind5 B What needs or challenges does the collect identi!y0 B What priorities does it elevate0 B (ow does the collect ill mine yo r needs in the moment0 B (ow does the collect open yo p to what .od wants to see happen in yo r li!e right now" apart !rom" or in the midst o!" the # rgent needs$ o! the day seen !rom a temporal perspective0 Pray thro gh yo r re!lections" seeking what .od wishes to give yo " thanking .od !or g idance
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and help. %iturgical &orship as a School $or !rayer 1it rgy has been a primary means o! spirit al !ormation and voice o! spirit al direction in the li!e o! the /hristian comm nity across the millennia. -hey have been tho ght! lly and prayer! lly cra!ted to !acilitate h man enco nter with .od and the action o! the Spirit pon h man beings and h man comm nity. -hese lit rgies p t words into the mo ths o! worshipers in order that the intentions and commitments that those words e*press will sink down deep into the conscio sness and heart and come to ! ll e*pression in changed lives. -he well&cra!ted lit rgy also trains and e*ercises the worshipers in the ! ll range o! spirit al disciplines that n rt re connection with .od. @early every element o! the rite o! (oly /omm nion in the +ook o! /ommon Prayer" !or e*ample" gives the worship the opport nity to practice adoration" sel!&e*amination and con!ession" prayer and intercession" thanksgiving" as well as being shaped by hearing and meditating pon Script re. 'll& sed" lit rgical worship can become a #r t.$ + t the invested" tho ght! l repetition o! the practice o! lit rgical prayer c ts not r ts" b t irrigation channels in o r so ls" thro gh which the water o! li!e can !reely and consistently r n. David deSilva is -r stees Disting ished Pro!essor o! @ew -estament and .reek and an ordained elder in the ?lorida /on!erence o! the United Methodist /h rch. (e is the a thor o! Sacramental %i$e' Spiritual (ormation )hrough the "oo# o$ Common !rayer 3'nterDarsity" 6EEF8" !raying &ith *ohn &esley 3Discipleship =eso rces" 6EE18" as well as n mero s books on the @ew -estament and 'ntertestamental literat re. BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB ?or the #+ookshel!$5 Sacramental %i$e e*plores the spirit al direction that the lit rgies o! the ch rch" partic larly as collected in the +ook o! /ommon Prayer" o!!er the attentive worshiper. ;lements o! the rites !or baptism" holy comm nion" marriage" and b rial are sed as the basis !or re!lection pon the )o rney o! trans!ormation into which .od invites s. ;ach chapter concl des with a set o! spirit al e*ercises that assist the reader in practical ways to take steps !orward on this )o rney.