Gathering the Prayers of the People

by Robert Hocutt on February 11, 2021

In the back of your Book of Common Prayer you will find some forty-four pages of prayers. Some apply to the seasons of the Church calendar, while others speak to special occasions in life, society, and ministry. If you read through them, you will notice quickly that each is written in the first-person plural. That is, these prayers refer to the whole church using we, us, our, etcThese prayers are the collects, written for the entire church to pray collectively.

Ashley May, creator of The Collect Project, bears a particular love for these prayers and considers them essential for the life of the Church. “I don’t know,” she told me, “something just happens to you when you pray the collects!” What she meant is that the collects shape the desire of the Church for God to act and unify the Church in the hope that he will. 
It is this desire that inspired Ashley to begin gathering new collects written by anyone and everyone who follows Jesus and loves the Church. When we write and read prayers for the whole church, we learn to rejoice and lament as a body. We discover our real needs and those of our brothers and sisters we may not have been aware of.
In the fall of 2020, Ashely put out a call for prayers from her home parish, Church of the Resurrection in Washington, DC. She asked for everyone, those with a gift for words and those without, to craft prayers on behalf of the entire church and the submissions came pouring in. 
She ended up with very specific prayers and very general prayers, prayers for pregnancy, prayers for spending money, prayers for unjust leaders and everything in between. As you will read at The Collect Project, “You need not be a writer, a theologian, or a clergyman to write a collect. You need only have need.”
As we move into the season of Lent, Ashley is again calling for prayers. The theme for the season is Repent and Believe. Submitted prayers will undergo light editing for format, but their content will remain largely untouched. 
If you want to write, but fear you do not know how, Ashley recommends reading other prayers on The Collect Project and in the Book of Common Prayer. You will quickly see forms and patterns emerge to guide you as you write.
If you have something on your heart that does not necessarily fit the Lenten season, The Collect Project has added a daily section for those prayers in between seasons.
You can explore The Collect Project here and learn about collect submission here.

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