The prayer format perhaps most characteristic of the Book of Common Prayer is the collect.
A collect is a brief prayer that brings together several ideas succinctly. Though not a common word now, it’s just the noun version of the verb “to collect.”
A collect often follows a format something like this:
Address – the prayer begins with a name for God and often a description of God’s character or actions.
Petition & Purpose – this section asks for something and also often include a ‘so that’ type of clause, to make it clear what we hope will result from the petition being answered. The idea is to think about why we’re asking for something.
Praise – the last part of the prayer will usually offer praise to God or state the basis on which we’re making the request.
Examples from the Prayer Book
[su_spoiler title=”A Collect for Purity”]
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord.
This collect may be familiar if you have attended a communion or Eucharist service in an Episcopal church; it usually comes near the very beginning of the service.
[su_spoiler title=”A Collect for the Renewal of Life”]
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[su_spoiler title=”For Prisons and Correctional Institutions“]
Lord Jesus, for our sake you were condemned as a criminal: Visit our jails and prisons with your pity and judgment. Remember all prisoners, and bring the guilty to repentance and amendment of life according to your will, and give them hope for their future. When any are held unjustly, bring them release; forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice. Remember those who work in these institutions; keep them humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming brutal or callous. And since what we do for those in prison, O Lord, we do for you, constrain us to improve their lot. All this we ask for your mercy’s sake.
[su_spoiler title=”For Cities“]
Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth. Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[su_spoiler title=”For Church Musicians and Artists“]
O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Write your own Collects
Here is one example of a basic collect format. Try writing a collect in response to something you notice during your day.
O God, you are ________ :
Start with who you know God to be – attributes of character or past actions
We ask ____________ ,
Keeping in mind who God is, make your request in line with that knowledge
so that ____________ ;
What for? What are you hoping will result?
Part of our confidence in approaching God comes from remembering that Jesus connects us