Here’s part two of my list of most influential and useful resources around prayer and liturgy.
Grant us your Peace by David Grant (Aotearoa)
I leaned heavily on this book during my time in parish ministry. Because I decided to introduce and follow the lectionary to my parish, and because the Presbyterian heritage has a rich history of engagement with the Psalms (a history that is largely lost) I needed to find alternative ways to engage with the Psalms. These prayers are like exegetical explorations of the Psalms, getting to the soul of them, and letting them be what they were always meant to be in the first place, prayers of the people. Reading the Psalm and then leading one of these prayers was a solid practice for us. It also gave me a vocabulary for forming my own prayers out of the Psalms, which is probably the lasting gift this book has made to me, while the prayers themselves are a touch formal, or particular in their expression, I have learnt from it how to ground the practice in my own time and place.
Sounding the Seasons by Malcolm Guite (England)
I’m not really into poetry, as in, the stuff people say it really good, I generally don’t ‘get’. Malcolm Guite is different. I don’t think I’ve ever read sonnets until I got this book, which is exclusively made up on sonnets, exploring the Christian year. I confess I have read this book more than I have used it, there have been less occasions when I’ve been able to use one of these in a service than I would have hoped, I’m not sure why. But i know they have inspired my own prayer writing. However here’s the one that the bookmark was left in, which I must have used, and I can still see why:
Ready or not, you tell me, here I come!
And so I know I’m hiding, and I know
My hiding place is useless. You will come
And find me. You are searching high and low.
Today I’m hiding low, down here, below,
Below the sunlit surface others see.
Oh find me quickly, quickly come to me.
And here you come and here I come to you.
I come to you because you come to me.
You know my hiding places, I know you,
I reach you through your hiding places too;
Feeling for the thread, but now I see –
Even in darkness I can see you shine,
Risen in bread, and revelling in wine.
Redemption Songs: Prayers for People like us by Mark Laurent (Aotearoa)
To tell the truth, this book hadn’t been opened since it arrived in the post until I was asked to compile this list. But it’s not a gap filler, which I flicked through it, I found an earthy, Psalm inspired prayer journey. It helps that its homegrown too. Try this one:
If I was a bird
I’d fly to soe mountain
far away from these archers
who shoot arrows at my heart
– what else can I do
now my safe place is gone?
You see these violent people
lurking around corners
Lord, treat them as they’ve treated me
let them feel the heat of your justice
I’m sure you notice me
as I fly to your eyrie
hide in your shadow
I long for you to put things right
I know I’ll see your face on day.