A threefold pattern of praising, listening, and responding is how Christians pray. We honor God and give thanks. Then we listen to God through Bible readings, in quiet moments of intentional waiting for God’s voice, and sometimes through other people’s words. And finally we respond to God, giving the love of our hearts and the renewed dedication of our lives, interceding for others, and receiving a blessing. Whether we are young or old, in families or as individuals, accustomed to formal prayers or spontaneous ones, Christians naturally pray in this three-part form. This collection of prayers reflects this familiar way of praying.
The words of these prayers are taken directly from the Bible or use words minimally adapted from it. In each service we read a psalm portion, a Gospel text, and another scripture passage. The structure of the services, the three calls—to praise, discipleship, and intercession—use scripture words, as do the words of thanksgiving and (in the evening) confession. Every service includes a Gospel song—of Zechariah, Mary, or Simeon—or a recitation of the Beatitudes or an early Christian hymn. In each service we pray the Lord’s Prayer and hear a biblical benediction.
Early Anabaptists learned much scripture by heart; we hope that those who use these services will be inspired to do the same. We trust that by praying these scripture-saturated prayers, you will find your moments and your days and nights suffused with “the remembered Word,” a hallmark of Anabaptist spirituality.
The prominent place given to Jesus in these prayers also resonates with a sixteenth-century Anabaptist concern: following Christ in life. The themes chosen for the prayers for ordinary time are important elements in the New Testament witness to Jesus: the Lord’s Prayer (the focus of Week 1), the Beatitudes (Week 2), the parables of Jesus (Week 3), and the signs and wonders performed by Jesus (Week 4). The prayers for the seasons of the church year focus our attention on Jesus’ coming; his cross (seen as of a piece with his preaching, teaching, and healing ministry), resurrection, and ascension; and the coming of his Spirit on the church. The focus on Jesus’ life and teachings in the services is intended to aid us in deeply internalizing Jesus’ example and his words of challenge and comfort.
The scriptures selected reflect intensive work to identify foundational texts of early Anabaptists. Selections also speak to concerns of Anabaptists today, such as peace, justice, ecology, feminist sensitivities, ecumenical commitments, and regard for each testament, in its own right, as God’s inspired word.
This collection of prayers has found a place in many settings. People use it to lead devotions at committee meetings and conferences and in small groups, congregations shape morning worship on its pattern, ministers offer pastoral prayers informed by its petitions, student groups gather around it, individuals use it for personal prayer. Families who have never held devotions report that this collection has enabled them to enjoy reading Scripture and praying together: school-age children lead their own parts of the service, and younger ones learn the repeated elements by heart and offer their own prayers of thanks and petitions in the spaces for free prayer.
This mobile app makes these prayer services available to users in an easy-to-navigate format, as close at hand as your digital device. Features include navigation to a recommended service for the date and time of day, tracking to keep your place in the sequence of services, an ability to call up particular services, introductory materials and extensive indices that enable searches for particular texts. You can also select preferred versions of repeated elements (Glory, canticles, the Lord’s Prayer), which are then embedded in the service you are praying.