How do we pray when we meet together? There are many ways to pray together in a group, but a common one christians have practiced for centuries has been a “call and response” style of prayer (our prayer of confession and prayers of the people at Calvary usually follow this format). One person leads in a statement and the congregation responds. While there are many things at work in this kind of prayer, I want to highlight two:
- This kind of prayer is primarily an act of communal formation. Since the individual words are not chosen and formed by each individual in the congregation, it’s an opportunity to form ourselves through agreement with the prayer (that’s the meaning of the word “amen” - I agree). If you find yourself wondering what to “do” when someone else is giving voice to a prayer; try to listen with the intent to affirm, and then let that affirmation become a part of who you are becoming in that activity of prayer.
- Call and response prayer is unique performative picture of the church working together in worship. One of the words we often translate as “worship” in the Bible (leitourgia) can also be translated as the “work of the people.” This kind of prayer together helps us recognize (in real time and space) that we are Christ’s church doing the collective work of worship.
Questions or discussion? Click here to comment.
Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Deeper Dive Podcast
About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC