Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth! (Psalm 96:1)
It is good to pray old prayers, tried and tested by generations of the faithful. It is also good to pray in new ways which reflect changing contexts and priorities, raise up our lives here and now, and anchor the biblical story to our own lives and places, such as when we prayed Isaiah 55 in Cudgee (here).
Given this, at our last meeting the leadership team suggested that our next Lent Book be a collection of readings and prayers grounded in our local landscape, written by and for our congregation; and perhaps some of the prayers could then be incorporated into our liturgies. So over the next few months, I will be sending out occasional landscape-based prompts for reflection; and you will be invited to write your own stories and prayers in response. Your responses can take any form, of course, but if you like a bit of structure, here’s one way to write a prayer. This form of prayer is called a collect.
1. REMEMBER: Remember an aspect of God’s nature or Jesus’ life and work which is important to you. Recall a story or verse in the Bible which describes it. Read and reflect on this text.
2. ADDRESS: Address God using a key aspect of this text e.g. Jesus our friend, Jesus our healer, Father God, Lady Wisdom …
3. EXPAND: Expand on this aspect, drawing on Biblical imagery.
4. ASK: Ask for something related to this aspect of God.
5. EXPLAIN: Explain why you are asking God for this. And that’s it!
Here’s a collect I wrote as an example, drawing on 2 Chronicles 6:26-32 and thinking about colonialism and the climate crisis:
Ever-present God, who listens to the prayers of the people both of this and distant lands: When the seasons are changing and the rains are disrupted, or when locust or pandemic strikes, and the people confess their sin and pray to you, forgive them. Forgive them, Creator Spirit, and teach them to live rightly in this land that you gave the ancestors. For in your creation, right living and healthy land are inseparable. Amen.
And here’s one I wrote awhile ago, for handwashing:
Forgiving Jesus: You watched Pilate wash his hands of responsibility for your death, and you forgave him. Every time we wash our hands, help us remember our baptism. Help us remember that we are forgiven; help us to forgive. Because you watched, and you forgave, not only Pilate, but every one of us. Amen.
Now it’s your turn!
Emailed to Sanctuary 10 August 2022 © Sanctuary, 2022. Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash. Sanctuary is based on Peek Wurrung country. Acknowledgement of country here.
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