Litanies for Congregational Prayer

At Valley CrossWay Church were I speak once a month, sermons are generally 15-18 minutes with the rest of the morning message communicated through reading Scripture, songs by the choir, singing, prayers, silence, passing of the peace, offering, and litanies that we all say together. This Sunday I’ll be speaking at another church where there’s a worship band instead of a choir, and sermons are generally 30-40 minutes. A few months ago, I spoke at another church that begins with worship, then takes a ten-minute coffee break in the foyer, with the sermon immediately following the break.

Each church has its own order and form of worship, its own “liturgy” we might say. In some churches, the liturgy may seem more informal—without a written order of worship distributed to everyone, with conversational prayers, and the speaker walking around the stage while delivering the sermon. In some more deliberately liturgical churches, there is a clear order with litanies and prayers written out so everyone can participate. The first Sunday my husband and I visited Valley CrossWay, the worship booklet was 27 pages!

Fran Pratt grew up in a more informal church setting, but when she was 28 years old she discovered a more deliberately liturgical form of worship. She says, “Walking into a liturgical church was like walking into a foreign country.” But as she let the words wash over her, as she soaked in their beauty, as she participated in prayers and readings without needing to choose her own words, she felt as if “Instead of me forming my prayers, I could let the prayers form me.”*

Over time she began writing her own litanies, many posted on her website and in her book, Call and Response: Litanies for Congregational Prayer (Outpost Press, 2018). Today Rev, Fran Pratt serves as Pastor of Worship and Liturgy at Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas.

While many of the litanies on her website follow the church year, the litanies in her book are arranged by topic: litanies that look inward (e.g., for guidance, boldness, stillness), litanies that look outward (e.g., for the earth, for refugees, for justice and equality), litanies for coping with change and other challenges, litanies for corporate worship and rituals like baptism and welcoming new members.

I appreciate the creativity and fresh expression of these litanies, and the way they address real life and bring it to God. These are beautiful readings for your own contemplation, but they’re designed as call and response with a congregation. So with the purchase of the book, you’re able to use any of the litanies in congregational worship as long as they are properly attributed: © Fran Pratt http://www.franpratt.com.

Instead of my printing any of the litanies here, I recommend:

Browse the author’s website – Helpful information if you’re not sure what a litany is or how a litany can contribute to your worship, with resources for those who are more experienced in using litanies.

Buy the book – The litanies in Call and Response may be used in congregational settings as long as they appear with this credit line: © Fran Pratt http://www.franpratt.com.

Learn how to properly attribute a litany – The author generously allows the use of her litanies by churches and other non-profits as long as her work is properly attributed, so please respect this, and do not share any litanies in their entirety on social media.

*Both quotes in the third paragraph of this article are taken from the introduction of Call and Response (pages ii, iii).

Disclosure: Thank you to the author and Speakeasy for providing me with a complimentary review copy of Call and Response: Litanies for Congregational Prayer (Outpost Press, 2018). The choice to review and my opinions are my own.

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Ordained minister with 25 years' experience as lead pastor of a mid-size, multi-staff church, now resident author with a liturgical worship community, and editor of Purpose, a monthly magazine of everyday inspiration. Author of Four Gifts, Sacred Pauses, and other books on Christian living. For more, see aprilyamasaki.com and WhenYouWorkfortheChurch.com.

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