Will You Join Me in Prayer?

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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.

Anyway…

7 thoughts on “Will You Join Me in Prayer?

  1. Joanne

    Wow–you did not go where I thought you were headed. I inserted my own pet peeve into the subject title and was sorta surprised at where you went when I began to read. Imprinting my own pet peeve, I thought you were going to address people who apparently carelessly say “please pray for me” or “I’m praying for you” or “I’ll pray for you.” I happen to believe that if you tell me you are going to pray for me, you have taken on a solemn obligation; likewise, if I say I’ll pray for you, I absolutely will. Phew–I feel better. And thanks for sharing your peeves–something to think about!

    Reply
  2. rmjoyce8

    Mary,
    WONDERFUL, I have found that the current liturgical mode, is so much more pseudo-questions, such as will you and Shall we? etc. It is as if questions are ok , and instruction is not. It is still direction and not disguised by the envelope of the language. There is something about a few thousand years of liturgical work that may speak to us. I fear we have developed a loathing for direct simple speech and now we “talk around” things lest we own our authority, thus not owning our authority we may not be able to manage our authority when called upon. Perhaps this is so? Could we consider this? Pax

    Reply
    1. sicutlocutusest Post author

      Yes, I do think it has something to do with the authority issue, especially in the so-called progressive churches. Something we are famously reluctant to discuss… Thanks for this insight. And for being so kind as to take the time to comment!

      Reply
  3. Pingback: “Let us pray” and authority | the patchwork pietist

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