“Reading” Prayers?

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has written prayers for a memorial service marking the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, according to a brief Associated Press article written by an unattributed journalist that I found via Beliefnet.  Twice the article mentions that these prayers will be "read" at the memorial service. 

Read?  Poor verb choice, bucko.  We read newspapers, signs, menus – not prayers.

You see, I can be picky about both words and worship.  Prayers, it seems to me, are most definitely prayed, not read. If using two forms of the same word in one sentence – prayer as a noun and pray as a verb – is stylistically bothersome to you, then perhaps some other verbs could be in order.  Prayers can be said, offered, lifted up, spoken, shared.  Still, my favorite verb to describe the act of prayer is pray.  Perhaps, then, the line can be reworked to say that the Archbishop has written words, lines, or verse that will be prayed.  What formulations have you used?

The words we use to describe the practices of faith are important, particularly in worship.  Prayer is not something that one person reads for others to hear.  Rather, prayer is an act of faith in which the whole assembly participates through hearing, yes, but also through meditation, spoken words of response, gestures, posture, and most importantly through the faith of each person gathered.

About Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. National Guardsman. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.
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6 Responses to “Reading” Prayers?

  1. Brian says:

    Excellent comments.

  2. Eric says:

    I agree with you…prayers are prayed not said. I also have a hard time with, “Let’s SAY the Lord’s Prayer together”. PRAY…”Let’s PRAY the Lord’s Prayer…” Saying or reading a prayer, for me, seems to remove the spiritual connection a person has with God when they pray. Does not make sense?
    Also, when I write Sunday morning prayers for my blog I hope people are more than reading them, but praying them.
    Thanks for the post. Good thoughts.

  3. Well phrased, Chris.
    n

  4. revhrod says:

    You are too much! 😉 You are right on in your comments but are you being a bit hard on an AP stringer who doesn’t necessarily cover all this praying business on a regular basis? Now, on the other hand, if this schmo is a liturgist….
    Personally, I wonder why Diana is getting all this attention. It’s sad, yes. She was famous, yes. But when do we say enough is enough. The grief is very real for her family, but it’s a little strange for some of the rest of us. Oh well….. An Episcopalian friend of mine suggested that Rowan Williams is simply in over his head. Gene Robinson will not be attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference and some of the African Bishops are refusing to come if Williams doesn’t deal with the issue of Gene Robinson. So maybe he should “read” some prayers about all of that…..

  5. revhrod says:

    I reread my comments and they sounded a little snotty. Yikes. I totally agree with you. I just want the Archbishop of Canterbury to do something ELSE with his time. And maybe the reporters could cover something a little bit more critical. Am I getting old and cranky?

  6. PS says:

    Unfortunately, I’ve heard prayers just “read.” And the “just” was not used there in the sense of the groups that “just” ask God for this or that. Akkk.
    VERY often a famous person, political person usually, is on camera “sending prayers out to the victim” of such and such disaster. Double Akkkk.
    Is that the language/culture of some denominations? Or don’t they know that prayers are supposed to go to God?

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