A few months ago I posted a brief, general-purpose liturgy for small-group meetings. It has worked out nicely for a couple of small groups I’m in. But I’m concluding that shorter, simpler, and easier to recite from memory is better.
I’m also realizing that for group prayer, I have a very strong bias toward call-and-response versicles. I'm convinced that when we say a familiar prayer together in that way, it helps promote a sense of community -- and of shared heritage -- far more than when one person prays whatever happens comes to his or her mind, and everyone else just stands around and listens.
Here are four easy-to-remember responsive prayers you can use at meetings, meals, etc. As you'll see below, you can fit in some extemporaneous prayers if you like, within the structure of the responsive prayers.
Three of these responsive prayers come straight from the Book of Common Prayer. Two of the four are from Psalms.
You probably know these prayers by heart already. If you don’t, you really ought to memorize them. They’ll help us pray better together.
Opening Versicle for Any Occasion — from Psalm 51.16, 11, BCP p. 657
Open my lips, O Lord,*
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,*
and renew a right spirit within me.
[This may be followed by extemporaneous prayers, and then by one of the prayers below]
Before a Meeting, Class, or Other Function — from Psalm 19.14, BCP p. 607
May the words of our mouths,
and the meditations of our hearts,*
Be always acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
A Grace Before Meals — attributed to John Wesley, Anglican priest
Be present at our table, Lord, *
Be here and everywhere adored.
Thy people bless, and grant that we
may feast in paradise with thee. Amen.
A Closing Prayer — adapted from the post-Communion prayer, BCP p. 365
Eternal God, heavenly Father,
Send us now into the world in peace,*
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen
I'd only make one change: I'd add the Gloria Patri at the end of each prayer, and of course the bow that goes with it.
It's my favorite part of the prayers these days. There's something I find very meditative about repetition like that - very conducive to getting my mind and heart aligned towards God. Monastics say it about 20 times every day.
Posted by: bls | May 25, 2005 at 02:10 PM
(But I totally agree that saying short prayers like this throughout the day is a great idea, and probably achieves the same result. It would be great if we could all sort of start doing this, knowing that others are doing it, also. Sort of bonding at a distance.
And I know you're sort of "off" the Trinity these days, so probably my suggestion is in bad taste anyway. Sorry.
Posted by: bls | May 25, 2005 at 02:13 PM
What a wonderful Idea. May I post this little grouping in our Parish newsletter? They are all prayers we have heard before, but such a wonderful suggestion.
Posted by: Monk-in-Training | May 26, 2005 at 09:55 PM
Of course; I'm glad you liked the post.
Posted by: D. C. | May 26, 2005 at 10:11 PM
Derek made another suggestion at my site:
O God make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Posted by: bls | May 27, 2005 at 08:34 AM
The Wesley Grace is great when it's sung as a round. We used to do it at college with four adjacent dining rooms each coming in at the beginning of the next line. The music was lovely, and it was great that the prayer didn't just get said and then stop -- it kept going for a bit.
One of my favorites too is one that I heard Marcus Borg use at a seminar:
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world.
Fill my mind with your peace and my heart with your love.
Posted by: Mumcat | May 30, 2005 at 11:40 AM
God richly bless you
Posted by: Suzy Akrofi | July 15, 2006 at 10:30 PM
God Bless You!
Posted by: | November 15, 2007 at 11:50 PM
Finding this page was a blessing to me as a confirmation of my own practise of using a private ritual at home. I am an Anglican in New Zealand and have developed this ritual over a period of about 3 or 4 years.
The basic ritual can be seen on my webpage:
shown here: sirius3.angelfire.com/
In actual practice the prayers that spontaneously happen are sometimes derived from the Anglican liturgy such as the prayers you suggest here. Yours in Christ, David Eyles
Posted by: David Eyles | April 20, 2009 at 09:37 PM