Last Sunday's Gospel reading began with Luke telling us that Jesus wanted his followers to persevere in prayer. During the sermon we met a Pastor Wayland who did not think it proper to ask "special favors" of God. ("A Question of Rain" by William Hoffman.) So, he at first resisted the urging of his congregation for a "A Special Day of Prayer for Rain." In addition to prayers of adoration and praise, our Prayer Book is full of prayers of petition and intercession; Prayers that Pastor Wayland might have considered "special favors" for what we and our neighbors need!
Indeed, the Prayer Book has a whole section of "Prayers & Thanksgivings," pp. 810-841. The prayers here are grouped by their focus: ".. for the World, .. for the Church, ... for National Life, .. for the Social Order, ... for the Natural Order, ... for Family and Personal Life," and then Thanksgivings for these same topics. In each of these sections, there are also references regarding where other related prayers can be found in the Prayer Book -- such as Prayers for Healing, pp. 458-461. In my experience, these prayers have been very helpful; they helped me both express my needs, and to step back from my neediness to see my situation, and my neighbors', as the Bible teaches us that God sees them.
So, far from worrying about asking "special favors" of God, the Prayer Book teaches us to be very candid with God about our needs as we understand them. An example would be prayer #29, For Agriculture on page, 824. It begins by reminding us of the Genesis story of God's work in Creation from Genesis "... we thank you for making the earth fruitful, so that it might produce what is needed for life..." Then comes our petition, what we are seeking, "Bless those who work in the fields; give us seasonable weather; and grant that we may all share in the fruits of the earth ..." Note that we are not left off the hook: We are to be part of the answer to our prayer, as we "... all share .."
Last Sunday, I also quoted prayer #43, "For Rain," on Prayer Book page 828. One of the phrases that grabs me in this prayer is the recognition that we need God's help -- "... in this time of need .." Often we would be willing to do almost anything rather than acknowledge that we need help. Here we are being clear that we need God's help. As I write this, we are receiving gentle showers. However, our need is significantly greater, as indicated by the "U.S. Drought Monitor" which scores our predicament as "Severe Drought."
Now that we are down to less than three weeks before the General Election on November 8, we might also be moved to pray for both the election and for our county. Forward Movement, the folks who publish the "Day By Day" devotional guide usually available in the narthex, have come to our aid. They have chosen a prayer from the Prayer Book for each day up through November 9, "whatever the election results." They call it, "A Season of Prayer: For an Election." I commend it to you; look for it here.
Don't have a Prayer Book? Can't find the prayers mentioned above? You can find The [Online] Prayer Book here. Just click on the part of the Prayer Book of particular interest to you, and keep clicking till you get to the page with the prayers for which you are looking.
The Howler is approaching! Our annual costumed talent show will be next Saturday, October 29, at 4 p.m. All musicians, dancers, comics and singers -- all witches, princesses, ghosts and super heroes -- are encouraged to sign-up on the clipboard on the ushers' table, and/or to be in touch with Music Director Mark Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan can accompany whatever it is you'd like to perform!
In faith and hope,
p.s. If you are out after dark, you might want to see what the front of our church building looks like all lit up. Eversource recently sent us a letter asking whether we wanted to pay the monthly fee for the spotlights mounted on the two telephone poles in front of the church. I responded that the lights had not worked during my tenure. So, now they are on again. They are quite bright; more for safety than architectural illumination. Nonetheless, the Tower does really show up against the night sky. Here's the kicker: the fee is not trivial -- $504/year. Drive by and have a look. What do you think?
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!