Praying the Lectionary: Prayers of the Church, Cycle B, written by one of our synod pastors, Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson, is now available. It is a follow-up to a book he wrote in the same series for Cycle A readings.
“As a pastor, I couldn’t help but notice that there weren’t a lot of resources for prayers,” he says. “Yet the prayers are a vital part of any church service, drawing us into God’s presence inside our church building, and connecting us with the larger Christian community outside our building.”
As he approached retirement, he found a new project for himself—writing a book of prayers for each of the three lectionary cycles. He began writing shortly before retiring in January 2019. A book for Cycle C is planned for publication in 2021.
He writes these weekly prayers (often referred to as “prayers of the church” or “prayers of intercession”) to make specific connections to the scriptural passages read each week. Rather than putting the burden on individual pastors to develop prayers that reference that week’s readings, he wanted to provide a go-to resource.
“That’s not to say they have to use my words exactly,” he explains. “Rather, they can be used as a starting point and adapted to congregational or world events taking place at the time.”
He believes that people find worship meaningful when it touches them on the level of their daily lives. Therefore prayers, music, preaching and teaching must all be sensitively crafted to meet people where they are, so that they can be led deeper in their faith.
“Worship should be a holistic experience,” he enthuses. “The whole ceremony should unit hearts, minds and lives.”
He goes on to say that he is a supporter of Amnesty International, whose motto is “Where there is hope, there is life.”
“I am trying to bring God’s word to people, and shine hope into their lives, so they can hear it in God’s word, and apply it to their everyday existence. If I can make scripture, lesson themes and prayers relevant to them, then I have faith that they will take these things with them into the world.”
In 2015, he also self-published a book called, Salt for Sermons: A Collection of Stories, Illustrations, Anecdotes and Quotations. He made the decision at the time that — at 601 pages long—it was too lengthy to find a traditional publisher. So he made it available for free via his blog, dimlamp.wordpress.com, where it is still available under the heading “My new e-book.” The Praying the Lectionary books have been published by CSS Publishing Company.
“I hope these books can be a resource for both pastors and laypersons now and in the future,” he says.—Richard Janzen