edited: Sunday, May 11, 2003
By Fr. Kurt Messick
Posted: Friday, May 09, 2003
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One of my favourite forms of prayer - the Collect
The Collect is a particular form of prayer. Those in churches with high liturgical forms will recognise this form of prayer. Collects (pronounced call – ects) are short prayers that follow a general pattern, and are meant to collect the petitions and desires of the assembled group together into a common prayer.
Collects can generally be said to follow a pattern of You – Who – Do – To – Through.
Collects always begin by addressing the one to whom the prayer is directed. This can be Almighty God, O Lord God, Heavenly Creator, or a number of other phrases. The choice will often set a tone for the overall prayer.
The second part of the prayer identifies a particular aspect or attribute of God, the one to whom the prayer is addressed. It could call on God’s mercy, God’s memory, God’s power, God’s love, or any other aspect of God’s being.
This is the heart of the collect. This is where one asks the questions. The petition here is made simply and succinctly.
This is the follow-through. Why should God grant the petition? Why would God want what is being asked? The request is made so that something may happen.
Christians pray in the name of Jesus, and here that is remembered in the conclusion of the prayer, in remembrance of the methods the gospels and other Christian traditions and writings indicate as proper methods of Christian prayer.
Collects are generally fairly short, only a few lines. Some traditions such as Roman Catholic and Episcopal have collects spelled out in liturgical manuals and books of prayer. Collects can be made for the seasons, for the particular day, based on a particular passage from the Bible, for events, or for people and things. Below are some of my original collects, as well as the purpose for each one.
A Collect based on Jeremiah 31.27-34
who made an everlasting covenant
with your people Israel,
make us know your ways
more inwardly and completely
that we may truly know your truth
and follow your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns, now and always.
A Collect based on Luke 18.1-8
who listens to all who cry out
and is a sure and certain judge of all creation,
do not delay to show us
your justice and mercy
that we may know that peace which comes
from your response to our prayers;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever.
A Collect for Healing
by whose power the lame
have come to walk,
the blind have come to see,
and the afflicted have been made whole,
give your strength and healing power
to those in need
that they may live their lives
to your service in the world
freed from inhibiting pain and suffering;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who together with you and Holy Spirit,
lives and reigns, now and forever.
A Collect for a room in a house blessing
by whose wisdom
the whole earth is sustained,
bless those who read, study,
and meditate in this room,
that they may be enlightened
and guided by your light
to do your work in the world;
through Christ, who lives with you
and the Holy Spirit
one God, now and forever.
Writing collects can be an interesting and fulfilling spiritual practice. While these are particularly Christian collects, the pattern can in fact be utilised by those of different faiths, with minor adjustments.