Note from Pastor Mark;
Dear Friends, My daily blog has been anything but lately. I may rename it ‘Pastor Mark’s Occasional Devotional Blog’! In any event, my wife Linda has been coping with pneumonia for the last month or so and that has been my priority. We took some time away so she could rest and she is slowly getting better. Thanks to all of you who have offered your prayers and concern.
“…we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.”
Someone asked me a while back why a layperson always prays the Prayer of the Church during our worship. It’s a good question. Is it because we are trying to include laity in the leading of worship? Well, that’s a part of it but it is not the main reason. In order to answer the question we need to ask about the nature of the Prayer of the Church itself. What is going on in this prayer that would make it more than appropriate for a layperson to take the lead?
The prayer begins by expressing those concerns that are central for us in these words,; “Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.” Our prayer, like our Christian life, is concerned for both Church and world. Each of the petitions of the prayer go on to highlight the specifics of those concerns.
The answer to the question above, therefore, is simple. The Prayer of the Church is appropriately led by a layperson (it is also often called the Prayer of the People) because this prayer reflects the commitments of the congregation and it’s ministry. Just as when you bring before God those things that are important to you, the things that matter to you, in the same way the Prayer of the Church brings before God and the community those concerns which animate our ministry.
In His earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus Christ perfectly integrated His prayers and His work. Words and deeds were one action. His words and deeds led to the Cross and our salvation. Our prayers and work are not like His. At the same time, we are the body of Christ, a people set apart to both pray for and serve the world. The Spirit of Christ is at work in and among the words and deeds of His people and in the power of that Spirit we are encouraged to make our concerns known and do to something about them.
In this respect, therefore, the person leading the Prayer of the Church during our worship always represents an unspoken question; “Who among us is attending to these things we pray for?’
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”