Weekly Blog - Haddon Willmer: Intercessions in church services - Time for change?
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Intercessions in church can get too near to being a media-shaped list of needs dressed in pious language. So, we pray and move on, without noticing that nothing has really been done.
Could we make a helpful change in the way we pray if we did this? -
- Start with the conventional sequence of perfunctory petitions and then break off sharply, by saying:
So God, in your presence, we pause in our prayer,
to think and talk together about what we are being called to do, here and now, as we stand between You and the world.
Pause, because we need to think and talk and venture in experiment together, as ‘Church’, a community, a group of groups, called to witness to God in shared cooperative service in the world.
It might be a rather long pause, the conversation demanding.
It is tempting to exempt ourselves from such down to earth talk, and to go back to finish giving God the list which we think falls on his plate, and then, go home. But to do that would be to forget we are in the presence of God, the God who presses upon us and hems us in; we would cease to be even a rough sketch of ‘Church’.
Such a pause bears fruit when together we get to hear God’s call to a specific work, to go this way rather than that, so that our prayer becomes concrete, closer both to God and world.
When a way has been marked out for us, pray for grace to get going on it. Pray both for courage and strength to persevere in good work until it is completed and the grace to go on learning, open to revising our plans and methods in the light of experience. Pray to be kept walking on the earth which was ‘good enough for Jesus’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).
We might also insist on such disturbing pauses in sermons.
By Haddon Willmer
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