‘Prayer’, in English, comes from French, ‘prier’ — ‘to ask.’ … [I]f it’s understood that prayer is only held by those who have a devotion to a religious understanding, we have limited prayer … because we all ask and we all come in contact with deep desire, and that, in itself, is an experience of prayerPádraig Ó Tuama, interviewed by Krista Tippett for On Being
We can’t gather at Kelston Barn for a Quiet Day today as we’d planned. Instead I’d like to share here one of the activities I was going to offer as a way into silence.
Inspired by both the Pádraig Ó Tuama interview quoted above and Seeding the Spirit: the Appleseed Workbook by Quakers Chris Cook and Brenda Heales (published by Woodbrooke in 2001), the activity is to write a collect.
In the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions, a collect is a short prayer asking for one thing. Traditionally there are five parts to a collect:
- Addressing God
- Describing a divine attribute
- Asking for one thing
- Describing the desired result or purpose of the request and
- Concluding in the name of Jesus.
To write your own collect:
- Begin by considering your needs and deep desires. Allow one to take shape: what are you asking for?
- How do you name who/what you are addressing your prayer to?
- What action or characteristic of the One you are addressing seems relevant?
- What’s the reason for your request? What change would come from your request being granted?
- Do you have an invocation of power or expression of praise to conclude with?
- Assemble the collect, starting with naming and describing to whom/what the prayer is addressed, then proceeding with your request and the desired outcome, and finally your conclusion.
Take your time over this. There’s no rush, and no-one assessing or judging your creation. It’s about the process, not the end product.
I find the exercise of articulating just one request slows me down, bringing clarity. Then offering my request up in the form of a prayer can bring a sense of peace.
Here are some examples of collects, both traditional and contemporary (click on a square to enlarge):