The following piece on the significance and place of the Prayers of the People in Anglican liturgy was written by The Rev. Dale Hall and originally published on August 9, 2016 at AnglicanPastor.com:
I’ve always considered myself a person who kept myself aware of the events going on in our world: disasters, unrest, trouble spots, and certainly the plight of the persecuted church. But when I began encountering The Prayers Of The People, weekly and corporately, a new depth of prayer for the world around me began to emerge.
I did not grow up Anglican; in fact, I was in my 40s before I began attending and then ministering in an Anglican church. Several years prior, I remember visiting The Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. I was there discerning whether or not to join an ecumenical Franciscan order.. That morning, as I walked by the monastery church, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “You know, the monks here get up every day, they sow the day in prayer, and they pray for the world…”
“Hmm,” I thought. Then the Spirit continued, “They didn’t know what the day would bring, but they sowed the day in prayer…” (Monks get up at 4am for their first prayers of the day.) “The day President Kennedy was shot they prayed, September 11, 2001, they prayed…”
Example after example through recent years came to mind. I got the memo. I was to emulate this daily life of praying for the world around me. I was to “pray like a monk.” I joined my Franciscan order and began living into this daily rhythm of prayer, praying for the world.
That event occurred years before I became an ordained priest in the Anglican Church. On the first Sunday I stepped into The Mission of Chattanooga, as I began to make my transition to Anglican priesthood from my denomination, there was a young priest who was overseeing university ministry who got up and began to passionately lead all the worshippers in the Prayers of the People. He prayed over very specific examples of world events requiring necessary prayer. We prayed for the Universal Church, its members, and its mission, the nation and all in authority, the welfare of the world, the concerns of the local community, those who suffer and those in any trouble, and the departed.
Over the next several months I began to see a greater depth of my own awareness as we prayed on Sundays, or as I scanned the news during the week. I began to see what a formational moment our weekly Prayers of the People could be in the life of our parishioners. It really is a moment of discipleship, and it teaches people how to pray for their world. It is a powerful thing that each week we, along with so many churches throughout the nations, gather together and God’s people pray.
As the church, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to pray for the world around us. If we don’t do it, then who will? Lets keep the Prayers of the People alive.