PRAYERS FOR WORSHIP
These prayers are at the core of how I have wrestled with and integrated restorative/creative atonement theology into weekly liturgy as a parish pastor. In my Reformed Christian tradition, the "Prayer of Confession" is a liturgical piece that has typically emphasized human "sin" (defined primarily as “the bad things we do”) and God’s forgiveness in Christ. And this is all within the entrenched paradigm of a substitutionary, retributive atonement theology in which Jesus is punished by God in our place for our sins. As described in my Thesis, I came to focus on this liturgical prayer moment as a place to shift the content of and theological paradigm for atonement theology – initially making this shift intuitively and then over time intentionally. That shift is seen as the content of these prayers focuses not simply on wrongs people do but also on the injustice people suffer; not only on the need for forgiveness but also the longing for healing and hope; not only on confessing waywardness but also on expressing the need for wisdom and guidance, seeking nourishment from the Spirit’s gifts of life. This is a shift that receives salvation not as a punitive transaction with God but as restorative creation from God in Jesus Christ.
These prayers often keep the title of “Prayer of Confession” but do so while expanding the typical sense of “confession” as an admission of guilt into the broader meaning of “confession” as an expression of honesty, openness and faith (as is the case when declarations of faith are titled as “Confessions”). In this way, the content and themes of these prayers are adaptable for use with all liturgical styles and worshipping communities, and need not retain the title or place of the “Prayer of Confession” in your setting.
The prayers are organized around the Liturgical Year from Advent through the Reign of Christ, and around the 3-year Lectionary cycle, Year A, Year B, Year C, with links to the lectionary texts included – but again these prayers are not only for those that use the lectionary in their worship! (the collection is mostly complete, but I will be adding a few prayers along the way) The prayers do not always link directly to the lectionary texts, but rather echo themes that resonate with the liturgical seasons and scriptural content, so the prayers can be used and adapted for various liturgical styles and worship themes in any congregation or worship setting. Along with the Prayers, I've also included ideas for using the prayers as well as introductory words to and responsive words after the prayers that I have used in my setting.
So I invite you to use and adapt these Prayers for Worship freely and creatively –
and I simply ask that you reference TheChristianStory.org as your source.