Kyrie Prayers and the importance of memory

In churches like the one I go to, there’s always a prayer of confession – expressing regret and sorrow for our failings, both individually and corporately.  I’ve commented on this quite recently.

Usually there is a prayer that we say together, but sometimes we have what are called ‘Kyrie Confessions,’ where the congregation respond with the word ‘Lord have mercy’ to a sentence said by the leader.

I like to think of this form of prayer not so much as a confession of our wayward nature, but of God’s unfailing love.  So in my daily prayer, I often compose a Kyrie prayer based on my scripture readings for the day.

Today I was reading a part of psalm 90:

13Turn, O Lord! How long?
    Have compassion on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be manifest to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and prosper for us the work of our hands—
    O prosper the work of our hands!

So from that I arrived at this prayer:

Lord, have compassion on us
Lord, have mercy
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love
Christ, have mercy
Let your favour, O Lord our God, be upon us
Lord. have mercy.

Writing a prayer is a good way for me of allowing the words of holy scripture percolate into my whole being.  As I build up a personal library of prayers from different sources, and ones that I am writing myself, I am discovering how they can be drawn from memory the more I use them.

This works in church as well.  My habit with our regular Sunday morning worship is not to take a service booklet, because by now I know the words by heart.  That helps me to be able to close my eyes if I want to, or to open them and look at our stained glass window, and just be more aware of what’s going on.

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