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"Lord, Hear Our Prayer"

This is just a liturgical pet peeve of mine, but you know how, during certain times of the year, some parishes decide to get “creative” with the response that is used in the prayers of the faithful?

You know, instead of having the faithful say “Lord, hear our prayer” at the end of every petition, they’ll want you to say something else, typically based on the liturgical day or season, like “Come, Lord Jesus” at Christmas or “Come, Holy Spirit” at Pentecost?

I really hate that.

The reasons I hate it are five:

1) It just feels unnatural. I’m used to saying “Lord, hear our prayer,” which is a perfectly good response that everyone is comfortable with and that makes sense when it comes at the end of any petition that may be offered.

2) It’s too distracting. Since I’m not used to saying the alternate petitions, they’re distracting, and I find myself thinking more about the response than about the petition, which is what my mind is supposed to be focusing on. Worshipping with unfamiliar responses is like dancing with unfamiliar footwork. You’re thinking too much about the mechanics of what you’re doing and not enough about the flow of the dance.

3) The alternate response is invariably inappropriate for some petitions–or at least it sounds awful odd (“That the Holy Spirit may give us a greater awareness of God’s love for us . . . ” —> ” . . . Come, Lord Jesus”? That sounds like the Third Person of the Trinity is being identified with the Second). Or even if it doesn’t, I have to devote mental processing time to the question of whether it is appropriate for the petitions.

One of the worst examples of this is a response I’ve heard used in the Christmas season: “O come, let us adore him.” If anybody gets prayed for specifically (e.g., the pope, the president), it sounds like we’re about to adore the person being prayed for.

4) The alternate response may be inappropriate to the day or season in which it is being used. “Come, Lord Jesus” just doesn’t fit for the Christmas season. Once it’s Christmas, Jesus has already come! That response would be more appropriate for Advent.

5) Some people find the force of habit too strong and end up saying “Lord, hear our prayer” anyway, then feeling clumsy about it.

When this kind of response substitution occurs, I personally tend to just give silent assent to the petitions rather than using an oral response.

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