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June 1999

Shedding Light on the Prayer for Illumination

“Should we include a prayer for illumination in the liturgy? Or should we leave it out this week?”

Bending God's Ear: Ways to transform the 'long' prayer into a rich and meaningful part of the liturgy

When I went to church with my parents in the late fifties, the sermon was about two peppermints long. I didn’t get peppermints during the prayer following the sermon. Hence the insufferable loooong prayer. My childhood is past; the long prayer is not. Just ask the children in church.

Come, let us worship and bow down': service plans for a four-week series based entirely on the psalms

In crafting a series that explores the richness of the Psalter for the life of prayer, I considered two approaches. The first was to spend one week on each of the main types of prayer in the psalms—for example, lament, songs of praise, enthronement psalms—choosing one psalm from each category to be that type’s model and the focus for the preaching and worship of that week’s service.

Book: Contemporary Worship Music: A Biblical Defense

John M. Frame. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1997. 212 pp. $10.99.

Together We Decided to Pray: How one inner-city congregation found a unity they never expected

We were a hodgepodge group of volunteers who found ourselves serving on a committee dealing with a huge and complex issue for our church. We varied widely in gifts and temperament. After our leader unexpectedly quit, it was unclear what would happen. Whose vision would prevail?

Book: The Book of Psalms: A worship resource for reading or singing the Psalms with optional refrains

Prepared by the Psalter Task Force of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. Toronto: Presbyterian Church of Canada, 1995. 354 pp.

Reclaiming the Power of Prayer in Worship

I recently spoke at a Christian Growth Conference that had as its theme “Thirst for God.” Three to four hundred “thirsty” people showed up on a Saturday morning to learn how they could satisfy their thirst, and the numbers grew as the day progressed. Many Christians today, it seems, are thirsting for something more than they have found. Tired of learning about God, they want to experience God. And one of the ways they’re seeking to experience God is through prayer—all kinds of prayer:



Thank you for the March 1999 issue of Reformed Worship. You have an excellent resource that is wide-ranging in scope and stimulating in content. We are doing some training for U.S. Navy and Marine chaplains this year, and have included a number of articles from your publication in the training manual (with permission, of course). So, your good work is being multiplied across the world.

On Liturgical Cliches, Congregational Participation, and Collects

Q. I worry that when I lead the congregation in prayer I often use language that sounds like cliché. My skills with words don’t match my desire to lead people with imagination and fervor. What can I do?
—British Columbia



Presbyterian Association of Musicians Conferences

Montreat, NC, June 20-26, June 27-July 3, 1999 (two identicalconferences).
“God’s Worshiping Children: Instructed by Faith, Sustained by Prayer, & Governed by Love.” Contact: Montreat Conference Center, P.O. Box 969, Montreat, NC 28757;
800-572-2259l; fax 704-669-2779;

The Forgotten Ministry: What Betty Andreas learned about a busy schedule and God's peace

Pastor Dobbins’s questions about Betty Andress began the Sunday morning he looked at the choir and didn’t see her. It’s not that she was the glue that held the harmony. She was a fairly substantial alto, but she was far from the star. From the front of the church, he checked the praise team—no Betty. Just behind the piano sat the drama people, but she wasn’t there either. His eyes swept through the sanctuary. Let’s see, he asked himself, where do the Andresses normally sit?

Book: A book of Reformed Prayers

edited by Howard L. Rice and Lamar Williamson, Jr. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998. 254 pages. $15.00.

Family Style: Praying to God together

In the dying days of 1958 I was a “just from the boat off” eight-year-old immigrant p.k. in a small town in Ontario, Canada. That had its rigors. It also had its rewards. The prayers during worship were especially profitable. In fact, on one notable Sunday afternoon between my dad’s opening “Dear Lort, on dis Sunday afternoon we haf com togesser . . . and his closing “Ah-men,” I came out 35 cents richer.

More Prayer Opportunities..: A list of prayer resources and initiatives

Prayer has been a fundamental component of the Christian life and worship since the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Believers give thanks for their daily meals, confess their sins and ask for forgiveness, intercede for their spouses and children, pray for the healing of the sick, ask God to protect missionaries, pray for the needs of the world, and request the intervention of God’s Spirit for the lost.

How to...Begin and End Prayer

An encounter between God’s people and the living God is the very essence of worship. Here are some tips to help worship leaders lead God’s people in prayer.


Let All Things Now Living: A Thanksgiving service with Scripture, song, poetry, and slides

Sharon Bandstra (top) is a worship planner at Terrace Christian Reformed Church, Terrace, British Columbia, where, until recently, Alisa Siebenga was a member of the worship committee. Alisa now lives in Lacombe, Alberta.

How Lovely Lord, How Lovely; Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ; Come Now, O Prince of Peace; For All the Saints; Let All Things Now Living

According to the Revised Common Lectionary, most of the Sundays from September through November fall under the general heading “Ordinary Time.” This designation is not meant to imply that these weeks represent an unimportant part of the Christian year. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Ordinary Time is a valuable reminder that the Christian life is an everyday vocation and is not reserved simply for special occasions.

Praying for All God's People: A litany for wholeness

“Praying for All God’s People” was submitted by Fred D. Rietema, Chief Chaplain at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington. It is reprinted by permission from That All May Worship: An Interfaith Welcome to People with Disabilities, produced by The National Organization on Disability, 910 16th St. NW, Suite 600, Washington DC 20006, (202) 293-5960.

Building Community Through Prayer: A new kind of prayer service helped our congregation

The service “Building Community Through Prayer” was submitted by Sandy Boersma, worship committee chair of the Brookfield (Wisconsin) Christian Reformed Church.

Praying for the World: Exploring Asian hymnody

The gospel came to us as a potted plant. We have to break the pot and set the plant in our own soil.

— D. T. Niles

True Confession: Ideas for recovering a true spirit of confession in worship

Not long ago I asked a group to identifiy distinguishing marks of Reformed worship. “A unison prayer of confession,” one of them responded. Actually, we have not had a spoken unison prayer of confession for very long. Before the invention of the mimeograph, spoken, unison prayers were not possible. In fact, there was no such thing as a worship bulletin.