“Lord teach us to pray…” (Lk 11:1). This Sunday we begin our new series on prayer by looking at the Lord’s Prayer. In his book The Jesus Creed(Paraclete Press, 2004) Scott McKnight calls the Lord’s Prayer “a gift for liturgy” (liturgy being a routine for worship).
One form of liturgical prayer that has been a constant in church history is the Collect. Its origin refers to the “collecting up of the petitions of the congregation into one prayer.” These prayers would later be connected to the Scripture readings instituted throughout the Western church.
A Collect is a short prayer in five parts:
I. The Address or Invocation, typically to the Father (Jn 16:23);
II. The Acknowledgement, which gives the doctrinal foundation for the request;
III. The Petition, the actual prayer request, limited to one thing only and typically stated in the most concise way possible and concerning basic needs such as cleansing, forgiveness, protection, guidance, comfort, holiness and love;
IV. The Aspiration, introduced by the conjunction “that” and states the desired result of the petition (“in order that…);
V. The Pleading, which concludes the prayer by indicating the mediation of Jesus.
See the pattern in a familiar prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:
I. Almighty God,
II. to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid,
III. cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
IV. that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name,
V. through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
The Collect is for everyday Christians in the trials and testings of this life. It sounds complex, but the form is elegant in simplicity, and rich in theology. By using this structure, we have a framework to help us pray. In the words of Saint Augustine, “Without God we cannot; without us God will not.” And so, as we study the prayers of God’s people, may we reinvigorate our personal and corporate prayer lives, and become a house of prayer.
Who waits on us and runs toward us as a loving Father longing for his distant children,
Transform our hearts that we would long to seek your face in prayer,
In order that knowledge of the depths of your grace would take root in our lives,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!
Associate Pastor of Local Outreach