In the relatively benign and inconsequential (yet not without merit) Pet Peeve Category…
Whenever a worship leader invites unison prayer by saying something like, ‘Please join me in prayer’, or ‘Please pray with me,’ it always makes me want to respond with a little rant:
With you? We’re not supposed to be praying with you. We’re supposed to be praying together. You are not the primary pray-er whom we get to join. It isn’t your prayer we attach ourselves to. It’s our prayer, communal prayer. The assembly prays. You are leading the prayer, to be sure; but you do so as one of us, not someone we get to ‘join.’
Why not just say, ‘Let us pray’? It’s simple, clear, and nicely includes ‘you’ in ‘us.’ Yes, I know, it’s old-fashioned and impersonal (God forbid that we not be personal!) and slightly formal, and it has that dreaded high liturgical ring to it. But it does what the genre called ‘liturgical invitation’ (which is really no more than instruction—time to pray now, folks, so all together now, let us pray) is supposed to do; and it does it without calling undue attention to the worship leader, which is always a virtue.
And while we’re at it, what is this question you often pose to us— ‘Will you pray with me?’ It’s time to pray in unison as God’s holy people and you’re asking us a question? Do we wanna pray with you? Can we say no? What if we said no? Initiating the community’s prayer in worship should not be in the form of a question. It is, as noted above, an instruction, albeit with a polite tone. Keep things straightforward and simple and get yourself out of the way, dear worship leader. Please?
I know, I know… The world is in flames, and I’m peeved by the quirks of worship leaders. I’m getting old and cranky. I need to get a life, etc. You’re right, and I’m on it… just as soon as I write another rant about worship leaders who announce cheerily that ‘God is good!’ and then coerce us into shouting back, ‘All the time!’ more than once (‘Let’s try that again!’) because our enthusiasm level did not live up to the leader’s expectations the first time.