Why Do We Read Prayers, Creeds & Confessions?

Worship the Lamb

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  (1 Peter 2.9)

The whole Church is called a royal priesthood.  Since the people of God are all priests, all should be actively involved in the priestly function – worship.  We should all be conducting  worship.

In worship services the worship leaders & musicians lead, but the people are actually performing the worship.  The people are able to do this because they know how to worship.  They have been given the tools to read & respond.  These tools do not replace the Bible.  On the contrary, many if not most tools are excerpts from the Bible. These liturgical tools should be seen as to the spoken parts of worship what the hymnal is to music.  They are intended to equip the people, and assist them, for doing the work of the priesthood.

The recited corporate prayers are part of the training manual for worship.  They are not the only kind of prayer. There is also “free” prayer during worship.  The set prayers though, such as The Lord’s Prayer, follow Biblical examples and patterns.  They are usually well-stated prayers that uniquely express the common needs of God’s people.  They are sometimes called collects because they are a collection of prayers that express the needs of Christians, and they are brought to God by those who pray “collectively” – or all together.

The common objection to such “read prayers” is that they are not sincere.  “After all, how could they be,” it is reasoned, “if they are composed by someone else”.  But such an objection, while understandable, is not necessarily the case.  People read vows or or memorize what they will say at a wedding.  Does this mean that they are insincere?  Hardly!  In fact, people very carefully choose their words when they really have to mean them.  Remember this is how people act at special occasions before special people.  Further, most people have no reservations about singing hymns or songs written by others.  It is understood and accepted that this allows a gathered congregation to praise God in unison through song.  Can you imagine the chaos if, when it was time to sing praises to God, everyone was expected to sing at the same time, but each was to sing a song of their own choosing?  Obviously this would cause a horrible sound.  The hymnal (or projection screen) allows all worshipers to participate, and it unifies all participants as they worship together.  So it is with the liturgical tools.

But how about repetition?  Doesn’t repetition lead to deadness?  No, again.  People usually like to repeat what they love.  Certain oft-recited portions of scripture, such as The Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, and The Beatitudes, all serve to illustrate this.  And how about favorite hymns, Christmas carols, or simple songs such as Jesus Loves Me?  These same songs are repeated by the same people over and over.  Does the repetition mean they are insincere or don’t mean what they say?  Not at all!  They are repeating what they love and mean.  In fact, repetition is difficult when people don’t mean what they are saying.  This is true of every aspect of worship.

Finally, repetition has also been called the “mother of learning”.  Repetition is a way of learning the basic elements of anything – including worship.

It has been suggested that “Most Christians today do not know how to really worship”.  If this is so, perhaps it is because many have been led to believe that worship only comes naturally.  It doesn’t. No more than anything else in the Christian life comes naturally.  While genuine worship must come from the heart, certain aspects of worship must be learned.  And, since repetition is one of the most basic ways of learning, sometimes our worship services will involve repeating certain important parts.  And because congregational worship is not just an individual sport, our services offer certain tools that allow all God’s gathered people to join together.  Our aim is for our services to provide a beautiful combination of corporate and individual expressions, in order that we may all offer to our glorious God a worship that emits a fragrant aroma pleasing to Him.

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