Good liturgy teaches us to pray

Lord, teach us to pray.

That’s what the disciples asked of Jesus (Luke 11:1–6). So Jesus taught them what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”. In other words, Jesus gave them a good liturgical prayer.

Good liturgy invites us to pause and pray about important concerns. Good liturgy helps us to pray.

Hallowed be Thy Name”—Is there something in the past week I might praise and thank God for?

Give us this day our daily bread”—Please give my friend what he needs to get through this week.

Forgive us our trespasses”—I pause for self-reflection and confession.

As we forgive those who trespass against us”—Lord, you know I find it tough to forgive Ms XYZ. Save me from bitterness.

Liturgical prayers are not meant to replace the need for us to engage personally with God in prayer. They are intended to help us talk to God about important concerns in our world and personal lives.

A good liturgist (i.e. worship leader) should not lead us in a rushed recitation of the printed words. Rather, time must be given for the words to prod worshippers to reflect and respond to the guidance offered in the liturgy for that day.

Good liturgy also helps us unite our individual prayers in a succinct summary response. For example, after a time of silent prayers for those whom we know are suffering illness, the liturgist might conclude by leading in the following responsive prayer (modified from The United Methodist Hymnal 457):

Liturgist (L): God of compassion, source of life and health:
People (P): Strengthen and relieve those whom we pray for today.
L: Give your power of healing to nurses, doctors and all who minister to their needs,
P: That those for whom our prayers are offered may find help in weakness and have confidence in your loving care;
L: Through him who healed the sick and is the Physician of our souls
P: Even Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Good liturgy teaches us to pray. Lord, please help us to learn.

The Rev Dr Gordon Wong was re-elected President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) in 2016 for a second quadrennial term, but is primarily grateful to God for the gift of his wife Lai Foon and two children Deborah and Jeremy.

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