Bidding Prayer

Bidding Prayer One of the offices of deacons in the early Church was to direct the people in the exercise of their public devotions. They were accustomed to use certain forms of words, to give notice when each part of the service began, and to exhort the people to join attentively. This was called by the Greeks κηρύττειν, and by the Latins prcedicare, which means performing the office of a κήρυξ or prceco. By some writers the deacons are called ἱεροκήρυκες, the holy criers of the Church, as those who gave notice to the church or congregation to pray and join in the several parts of the service. The form, "Let us pray," repeated before several prayers in the English liturgy, is derived from this ancient practice in the Church. Burnet gives the form used before the Reformation as follows: After the preacher had named and opened his text, he called on the people to go to their prayers, and told them for what they should pray. Ye shall pray, says he, for the king, the pope, etc. After this, all the people said their beads in a general silence; and the minister also knelt down and said his. They were to say a paternoster, an ave maria, etc., and then the sermon proceeded (Burnet, Hist. of Reformation, ii, 20). Not only did the deacons call the people to pray, but they gave direction as to the particulars they were to pray for. In the apostolical constitutions we have a bidding prayer for the communicants, in which are specified upward of twenty subjects for prayer. The prayer at the commencement of the communion service, and also the litany of the Common Prayer-Book, bear a close affinity to the bidding prayers in the apostolical constitutions. The formulary which the Church of England, in the 55th canon, directs to be used, is called the bidding prayer, because in it the preacher is directed to bid the people to pray for certain specified objects.-Bingham, Orig. Eccles. bk. ii, ch. 20:§ 10, and Lk. 15:ch. i, § 1; Procter on Common Prayer, p. 171; Buck, Theol. Dict. s.v.

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