Monday, May 22, 2017

The generosity of prayer. . .

Having now the advantage of bowing my head on those Sundays when my associate leads the Prayer of the Church it has allowed me the opportunity to consider these prayers.  It struck me not long ago that this prayer is perhaps the place where the generosity of the Christian faith is most evident.  The Prayer of the Church is not strictly local at all.  We pray for all manner of people and concerns and for some with great regularity.  We do not pray for agendas only but for people, some by class and many by name.  We do not prayer only for those of the household of faith but for all people as they have need.  God's mercy is by nature generous and that generosity is supremely evident in the regular prayers of God's people within the Divine Service.

On any given Sunday in our churches you will hear the people of God there assembled praying for the leaders of this and every nation, for the causes of peace and justice for all people, for the protection of life, for the victims of man-made and natural disaster, for the sick (those of the household of faith and all people, particularly the names brought forward from the faithful), for those who witness the Gospel and for those who hear the Word proclaimed, for those considering church vocations and those preparing for church work, for pastors, for the dying and the families of those who have died (both known to the household as the faithful and those whose names are brought forward from the faithful), for good weather and a fruitful harvest, for the caring vocations and those who serve us at home and abroad, for those who commune and for the catechumens, for those who teach and those who learn.  .  . and the list goes on.  Especially we pray for our enemies and those who oppress us, those persecuted Christians, and those outside the household of faith.  It is a generous list of those who are regularly and faithfully lifted before the Lord in prayer, for the sake of His Son, and for the cause of His mercy.

In a conversation with a Muslim who converted to Christianity, the generosity of the prayers of God's people and the generosity of the God who is known in Jesus Christ was a profound influence upon his conversion.  Though God's people may be parochial in interest in other areas, our prayers, in particular the Prayer of the Church, is generous and inclusive.  It is testament to the mercy of God which is lavish and generous beyond all expectation.  Sometimes we forget that.  Often we are reminded of this more profoundly by the Prayer of the Church than even our preaching and catechesis.

It is one of those things you learn when you listen to the sound of God's people gathered in prayer in the Divine Service.  We believe in a generous God and His generosity is what encourages our prayer -- He hears and answers us, by nature a generous and merciful gift!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.