Our Episcopal heritage has many things to commend it, but particularly noteworthy is our Book of Common Prayer. We are familiar with it since it is used for Sunday worship, although for visitors, it can be a challenge to figure out “where we are” at some points in our service.
But did you know that there is a wealth of other material in there, too? Historical documents, the Catechism, a calendar of the church year, Morning and Evening Prayer, Daily devotions for families, and lots of special services such as those for Ash Wednesday, Easter Vigil, and the Penitential Order are all contained in this lovely book.
“But wait! There’s more!” If you turn to page 810, you’ll see a long list of Prayers and Thanksgivings. While some of these may be inserted into the Prayers of the People on a Sunday, generally these heartfelt, well-composed prayers are not often used. Prayers for the world, the Church, national life, the social order, creation, and family life are all contained here.
I especially like the prayers between pages 821-827, and utilized many of those recently at an Evening Prayer service on January 19, the eve of the inauguration of our new President. I was amazed, as I read through this section, how timely the prayers are and the comfort they bring in this time of uncertainty.
There is one prayer that I overlooked, however, and I’m including it in the Prayers of the People this Sunday:
Prayer 39. For those who Influence Public Opinion
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I encourage you to explore the Book of Common Prayer on your own. You’ll find the entire contents online for free at bcponline.org, or you can buy a copy for personal use for as little as $8 on Amazon.