Guidelines for Prayer Composition PDF Print E-mail

Praying with Creation

Guidelines for Prayer Composition

1) Set the prayers in the context of the readings for Sundays and other primary feasts of the church. Readings should follow the Revised Common Lectionary to gain the greatest breadth ecumenically. Two other larger contexts are worthy of reflection: the church’s year and the solar year. Within the context of the Liturgy, the setting is the prayers of the people, the intercessions.

2) The collect structure (God is addressed, God’s past actions of mercy, justice, deliverance, etc. are noted, a petition is offered that God will again act) is usually preferred since it can be easily modified to follow the form of other petitions from Sundays and Seasons or other sources of intercessory prayer.

3) Try to use a full range of titles for God drawn from biblical sources (especially the psalms), other prayers, hymns and songs, etc. Link the title to God’s past actions and to the petition. Avoid what have come to be heard as more general addresses of God, like “God, Almighty God.”

4) It’s imperative that language be inclusive.

5) Be sensitive to the use of metaphors, similes, personifications and other ways to enrich language so that the prayers have a poetic sense about them.

6) Following are six principles by Norman Habel which will be of help with orientation, i.e. praying from the perspective of Earth, praying with creation:

a) Intrinsic worth: the universe, Earth and all its components have intrinsic worth/value.

b) Interconnectedness: Earth is a community of interconnected living things that are mutually dependent on each other for life and survival.

c) Voice: Earth is a subject capable of raising its voice in celebration and against injustice.

d) Purpose: the universe, Earth and all its components are part of a dynamic cosmic design within which each piece has a place in the overall goal of that design.

e) Mutual custodianship: Earth is a balanced and diverse domain where responsible custodians can function as partners with, rather than rulers over, Earth to sustain its balance and a diverse Earth community.

f) Resistance: Earth and its components not only suffer from human injustices, but actively resist them in the struggle for justice.

The above are from, Seven Songs of Creation: An Earth Bible Resource, pp. 15-16, by Norman Habel.

A note of encouragement: this new orientation the perspective from Earth, this seeing with new eyes, is not easy. We’ve been seeing things from a human perspective forever. Breaking that pattern requires intentional effort. However, the rewards are surprising and the insights are especially gratifying. Enjoy!

Finally, for the sake of clarity and brevity, prayers are subject to editing.


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