March 21, 2019
Who writes the Prayers of the People?
This is a question that is frequently asked. There is a BCP anticipation of who writes these prayers, but the reality is that the clergy of St. Francis have taken on that responsibility. That is not the Church's desire.
The Book of Common Prayer covers the rules for The Prayers of the People on page 383. The first rule is: "prayer is offered with intercessions for 1) the Universal Church, its members, and its mission; 2) the Nation and all in authority; 3) the welfare of the world; 4) the concerns of the local community; 5) those wo suffer and those in any trouble; and 5) the departed.
Six forms of Prayers of the People which meet all the above requirements are included from page 383 to page 393. These are only forms of suggested structures. The intention of the BCP was for congregations to write their own prayers and since they are Prayers of the People it was hoped that the People would compose the prayers. In that way, the real concerns of the community would be included and addressed.
Realistically, many parishes simply copy the forms or modify them as permitted in the rubrics on page 383, or they delegate the process to their clergy.
That system does not have to continue as is. In fact, this Episco-fact/Francisco-fact is an offer to the laity, the People, that they may write the Prayers. This offer does include an initial meeting with the clergy, both of them, to provide guidance on the writing and process for submission for our Orders of Service (i.e. the bulletin or program).
However, just short of the People taking over this project, at the next Change of season, The Feast of the Resurrection (i.e. Easter Day), the church will begin using Form VI for the prayers. In that form, after all the areas required by the rubrics are covered in the text read by the prayer leader, three separate areas are left for the People to add their prayers: 1) the special needs and concerns of this congregation; 2) thanksgivings for the blessings of this life; and 3) prayers for those who have died.
The prayer leaders are going to be instructed to leave a long silence at these moments for the People to add prayers for those whom they love, for major incidents like the sufferings endured after a shooting, a flood, or other major trouble, for the rejoicing of blessings, and finally for the dead. The People are asked to be bold, to say out loud what is on their hearts.
A teaching will be held on April 7 at the FORUMs on the use of this form as we encourage greater participation by the People in their rightful place in the Eucharistic Liturgy.