Advice for Bidding Prayer Composers
Make sure you have received or collected the next composers’ rota before the previous rota finishes. Note the dates for which you are scheduled to compose. If you are unable to take responsibility for the bidding prayers during the ten days before a scheduled date, contact the Bidding Prayers Coordinator to arrange for a substitute. If you are able to arrange a substitute by yourself, from one of the other composers, inform the Bidding Prayers Coordinator so that everybody concerned will know who has this responsibility for each date.
Official guidance about bidding prayers
Each intention should be understood as an invitation to the congregation (with phrases such as “let us pray for” and “we pray that”), not directly addressing God. Every prayer should be concerned with petition to the Lord, not praise or thanksgiving or repentance. The flow of the petitions begins with larger concerns (the world, the church, leaders), moves to local concerns (our parish, local community, the poor and needy, those who are sick, those who have died), and concludes with the personal (individual) requests. For a special occasion, the range of intentions may be more closely concerned with the occasion, but even then should always include some general or universal intentions. The petitions should call for a united response of the whole community, reflecting their concerns, not preaching, nor implying any views that could arouse controversy. The petitions should be expressed briefly and clearly.
Preparation before composing
By the preceding Sunday, you should have gathered most of the material you wish to consider using for bidding prayers. Good sources of material are:
- The first and second readings, the psalm and the gospel acclamation for the Mass, to consider how the general theme of the Mass may be reflected in one or more prayers, or whether any key phrases from these texts could be used.
- Current national and international news about people in need, impending dangers, and imminent difficult political decisions.
- Forthcoming events involving church leaders, nationally and internationally (see for example www.news.va and www.catholic-ew.org.uk for Catholic news).
- The cycle of intentions for each season (see for example www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Calendar/Cycle/Index.shtml)
- Parish newsletter items about any special appeal or collection due to be made at the Mass, about forthcoming events, and about any particular requests for prayer.
There are web-sites that offer a full set of bidding prayers for each week (for example www.rpbooks.co.uk/bidding prayers.html and www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/liturgy-preparation/). These may suggest useful ideas about topics and phrases, but generally you should not copy them in full – apply your gifts to create special prayers to suit our parish community
Composing the petitions
Select no more than six subjects for petitions, generally reflecting the “flow” described in the official guidance above. Express each petition briefly and simply. The form may be:
- an invitation to pray for a stated subject, coupled with a statement of the outcome we are seeking for that subject; or
- an invitation to pray for a stated subject, leaving the sought-for outcome unstated because it is obvious; or
- an invitation to pray for a number of related subjects (for example, different categories of the dead or the sick) – but not a long list.
Every petition should be followed by the same call to the congregation to respond (for example “Lord, hear us” “Lord, graciously hear us”, “Lord, in your mercy” “Hear our prayer”). At the end of the public petitions, compose a few words inviting the congregation to add their own petitions in a few moments of silence, and then add the same call to the congregation to respond. Finally, compose an invitation for the congregation to join in reciting the “Hail Mary”.
By the evening of the preceding Monday, your draft bidding prayers should be emailed to the nominated priest of the parish, and copied to the parish secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org) and to the Bidding Prayers Coordinator. During the period Tuesday to Friday, be alert for news of events that the parish community may wish to pray about. If such an event occurs, tell the nominated priest, the parish secretary, and the Bidding Prayers Coordinator. If you have time, suggest a suitable form of prayer about the event, and suggest any change then needed to your original draft.