O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
– Psalm 141:1-2
Having received the Good News of Jesus Christ, one of our privileges and responsibilities is to pray. On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit caused the disciples to proclaim the Gospel in many different languages and Peter preached to those gathered, Luke records (Acts 2:42) that those who were saved “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” This early description of worship suggests what it is proper for us to do as we gather to hear God’s word and receive the gifts He has promised for us.
The Collect of the Day is prayed early in the service, following the Introit, Kyrie and Gloria in Excelsis. The Collect of the Day, like the Introit before it, reflects the particular readings of the Day and the season of the church year. We pray together as one, reflecting a theme which will soon be heard in the readings.
The Collect of the Day follows a fairly particular form. Historically, a collect prayer was used in monastic services. After the psalms and readings, the officiant would call upon all gathered to pray silently. Following this period, the officiant would pray a brief prayer which summed up, or collected, the thoughts of all. The typical form of a collect has five parts: 1) an invocation; 2) a basis or reason for the petition; 3) the petition itself; 4) the desired benefit or result; and 5) the ending. Occasionally, parts 2 or 4 or even sometimes both are omitted, but 1, 3, and 5 are always present.
Later in the service, the pastor leads the congregation in general prayer. In this prayer, one petition often reflects the central focus of the readings and other specially appointed parts of the service for that day. Most of the petitions, though, are more universal in character. It is here that we pray for the church, for God’s children, for the state, for earthly rulers, for the sick, for seasonable weather, and the like. These petitions are often separated by responses by the congregation. These responses serve to remind the congregation that it is not only the prayer of the pastor, but of all those gathered there. The pastor collects and sums up the cares and concerns of the people in that place. He sometimes expands their prayers, praying for things that would not always occur to those present.
Having prayed to God during the service, the children of God should continue to pray on their own daily, keeping in mind God’s kingdom and the needs of others as well as their own needs.