I am leading the intercessory prayers on Sunday. It’s Remembrance Sunday of course and that makes intercession all the more pointed and necessary. It also adds to the pressure to make them specifically relevant and appropriate. For some inspiration on form and words, I was looking through Walter Brueggemann’s book “Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth”. Some words from the preface, echoed on the flyleaf, struck me as being particularly apposite:
… prayer is characteristically a dangerous act, and dangerous rhetoric is required to match the intent of the act. It is an awesome matter to voice one’s life before God and our lives should therefore be awesomely uttered.
It’s a powerful reminder of what prayer is. As Brueggemann says later, prayer is not a “grocery list” we approach God with; it is a coming before the Almighty God with a petition to intervene. Is that what we really want? Would we really want God to act? Can we be sure we would like what He did? The warning, “Never wake a sleeping dragon, ” has, for some reason, popped into my head. I can’t help but feel that it is somewhat irreverent and peculiarly appropriate at one and the same time.
So, in Remembrance day prayers, when we are conscious of the weight of expectation to acknowledge the sacrifice made by so many, how do we find the dangerous words that speak prophetically against violence as a means to achieving an end? How do we tread the line between complicity and condemnation? And, above all, how do we pray to God in a way that isn’t a ‘shopping list’ but contains a very real expectation of intercession?
It’s a dangerous business, prayer.