Taylor’s maternal great-grandfather was baptized as a boy at St. Mary the Virgin, Leighton Bromswold Church; as a young man he was sent off to war from there. While tracing her family’s roots in the town of Huntingdon, England, we visited the church, which has parts dating back to 1250. Over time, the church fell into disrepair, our guide told us. But the great metaphysical poet and priest George Herbert (1593–1633) oversaw the building’s reconstruction and expansion.
It’s quite possible to fill dozens of bookshelves with books on the importance and practice of personal prayer. That’s one indicator of the importance of prayer for personal spiritual growth and for the deepening of personal faith. But how many shelves could be filled with books on corporate prayer? Maybe one small shelf. Of course personal prayer is deeply important, but it’s often the corporate prayers of the church that teach us how to pray personally.
This prayer service is designed to help us pray through the spoken and sung Word as well as to learn about prayer through the preached Word. The service outline itself is a lesson in prayer: it’s based on the ACTS prayer pattern of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
In the thanksgiving section, people are invited to simultaneously share testimonies of thanksgiving in a word, phrase, or sentence spoken right from their seat. This is meant to be a great cacophony of sound, a room full of expressions of thanks.
This service is fully based on Psalm 86 with quotes from other psalms throughout. It follows a basic pattern of the congregation reading a verse or two from Psalm 86, offering a prayer based on those verses, and then singing a related song or two. The service has two main sections: a plea for help because we are so needy, and our dependence on God, who is loving and faithful. Though the psalms are written in first person, they are understood as a corporate expression.
As we enter the season of Pentecost it is good to be reminded that the Holy Spirit came not to make a splash and then exit again, but to continue the work that Christ was doing. The Holy Spirit continues to be active in the world, and we as followers of Christ are called to join the Spirit’s work. This prayer is for those of us who are on the front lines, working in the trenches, or completing more tedious assignments for God’s glory and the advancement of his kingdom.
O Lord, our gracious God and heavenly Father,