Liturgical Advice from Jeff Meyers

Meyers has started a series of liturgical advices. I have never heard background music during the pastoral prayer, but I have head long pastoral prayers before.  I have a friend who was hired by a Presbyterian church and one of the requirements of the session was that every Lord’s Day he took 15-20 minutes in his pastoral prayer. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Jeff’s advice is valuable. The church has provided powerful pastoral prayers, or pastors can spend their time crafting their own prayers so that they are Biblically rich. We need to be intentional about how we pray during the worship service. If liturgical reformation is to occur, we need to consider every detail of our liturgy.

So here is my first piece of advice: don’t play background music during the long pastoral prayer. You know what I mean. The piano or synthesizer is playing some slow, nondescript muzak as the pastor begins to pray. The soft, simple music continues throughout the prayer. Sometimes the music is meant to conjure up “heavenly” thoughts or even “outer space.” Oh yes, I’ve heard synthesized “space music” played as the prayer is being made. I don’t know what else to call it. It’s the kind of music you might hear during a presentation at your local planetarium.

This practice is pure cheese. It is so incredibly annoying and ridiculous. I suspect that it comes directly from televised church services and other televangelistic “ministries.” Don’t do it. Just pray. If people are having a hard time following your prayers, pastors, then shorten them. That’s right. Most pastoral prayers are way too long. Better yet, use a form of prayer—a litany or a bidding prayer—that actually incorporates the congregation in the act of prayer. Now, there’s a novel idea. No, actually, it’s an ancient practice that treats the congregation as participants in the liturgy rather than simply as an audience that is being manipulated by emotive music.

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