On page 140 of the 2019 Prayer Book, the following Additional Direction is found:
In both the Anglican Standard and Renewed Ancient Texts, other forms of the Prayers of the People may be used, provided the following concerns are included:
The universal Church, the clergy and people
The mission of the Church
The nation and all in authority
The peoples of the world
The local community
Those who suffer and those in any need or trouble
Thankful remembrance of the faithful departed and of all the blessings of our lives.
For the most part this is a clone of the rubric in the 1979 Prayer Book, which also authorized a create-your-own-adventure approach to the Prayers of the People, providing a similar structure of required topics. I think the wording of ours is a bit more positively specific, but the freedom is basically the same.
Now, this is “Weird Rubric Wednesday”, a new series of posts that I’m running about weird, strange, or surprising things that the 2019 Prayer Book permits. As the intentionally horrific and obnoxious banner picture at the top of the page indicates, I’m running this partly for the humour, and cautioning against abuse of the system. But some of these will have serious and positive suggestions, too. How you deal with the Prayers of the People is going to be one of those mixed entries.
The two Communion rites in our Prayer Book provide their own default Prayers of the People. Ideally you should just use them as-is. Tampering with them is permitted, but almost never necessary. The special occasion once in a while may be well-highlighted by an edited set of Prayers here, but on the whole this is supposed to be a stable piece of the liturgy. If you always keep the congregation guessing from week to week, then you’re only teaching them to rely on you, or to rely upon their own spontaneity, rather than provide the spiritual formation available in the mature historic prayers.
Try your hand at Puritanism
One of the great practices of the Free Church tradition is the “pastoral prayer”, in which the pastor prays at length for, well, anything and everything. This can be a train wreck if he’s unprepared, but it can also be a beautiful moment of pastoral love and care for the flock. The Puritans, in particular, had a thing for insanely long prayers, and this rubric offers them a victory in our 2019 liturgy.
Personally I don’t recommend opting for this, but it may be a positive idea to pray, as a pastor (priest, deacon, or otherwise) for your congregation at the end of the traditional set Prayers.
Shaken, not stirred
Another thing you could try here is to pull out the Occasional Prayers near the back of the Prayer Book and grab a collect or two for each of the required topics to create your own Prayers of the People. This would result in a very piecemeal set of prayers, with little-to-no sense of flow to them, so I would not recommend that for ordinary Communion services. But that might be a cool idea to try out in an Antecommunion service on your own! It’s also worth noting that the list of topics in the rubric above also closely matches the organization of the Occasional Prayers, so this scheme would be easier to fulfill than you might think.
This rubric also gives you the freedom to grab any other Prayer Book, official or proposed or supplementary, and use their Prayers of the People, assuming they meet the simple required topics. This could mean the 1979, or England’s Common Worship, or the Kenyan Prayer Book, or another province. Or, to channel that #broke/#woke/#bespoke meme, you could go all-out #bespoke and use the 1662 or 1928 Prayer Book’s Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church. How ’bout dat?
For ever and ever, Amen.
Pray the Great Litany as the Prayers of the People. Pray some or all the Psalms. Pray all the Occasional Prayers. This liturgy could last all day, baby! DON’T STAWP!