One of the things the authors and revisers of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer could never have anticipated was how, nearly 40 years on, the technology replacement cycle would become a pervasive, painful feature of the lives of the faithful. Two weeks ago, Holli Powell, co-host of The Collect Call podcast, faced an ailing laptop. Finding nothing in the Prayers and Thanksgivings or Burial of the Dead sections of the prayer book to ease her despair, she and co-host Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale appealed to their listeners for a new collect.
Listeners delivered! The submissions we received combined an ancient form of prayer with modern #firstworldproblems. We hope these prayers help you turn your mind to higher things next time your laptop crashes. To aid you, we’ve also combined selected words with images, in homage to the prayers The Episcopal Church posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram daily.
From Tyler Richards, a collect wrestling with the love-hate relationship we have with technology:
Grant peace, O merciful God, to your people, who are pressed on all sides by the onslaught of technology, that we, working through the power of your spirit, might strive to maintain and utilize the technology that is set before us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Randy Kinnett calls us to use the finite lifespan of our devices as a call to ponder our own mortality and the hope of the Resurrection:
Almighty Father, numberer of our days, you remind us that both we and our efforts are but a puff of wind, that the lifetimes of our devices and ourselves are as nothing in your sight: Shield our hearts with the assurance that though our creations perish, you are the LORD by whom we escape death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.
Corban Qualls reminds us that despite our best efforts to upgrade to the new OS, our devices will eventually fail us:
Almighty God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly when we are lacking, and in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, grant us, we pray, the knowledge to maintain our devices with wisdom, and that we, blessed with the awareness of times for every matter under heaven, should not mourn when our efforts fail but rejoice in the knowledge of your renewal of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Derek Olsen gave us a glorious gift, sending us four collects in the style of various BCP luminaries.
First, in the style of John Cosin, architect of the 1662 prayer book:
Almighty and merciful Lord: Vouchsafe to bless and succour these thy mechanical engines that do calculate for thy faithful, earnestly beseeching thee that thou wouldst cast far from them all demonic influence upon their inner workings; through the might of thine only Son who liveth and reignth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Then he contemplates a collect for a hypothetical feast day for Charles Babbage, using the biographical prayer style of Holy Women, Holy Men:
O Wondrous Mystery who spans the Digital Divide, you sent your Spirit on to Charles Babbage to create the first programmable computer even though William Thompson had created a tide-calculating machine before that point. Send your spirit on us too so that we can harness the power of computing to fight systems of oppression wherever we might find them. Amen.
Then he gives us one in the style of one of The Collect Call’s patron saints, the Rev. Dr. Massey Shepherd, Jr.:
Almighty God who numbers all things in heaven and earth: Grant us grace so to update, virus-protect, and otherwise steward the electronic bounty of your creation that we may proclaim your glory in all channels and forms; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And at last he gives us a collect in the style of Thomas Cranmer, with an indirect nod to the discord of the Reformation period:
Almighty God who hast bestowed wit and wisdom upon all thy creatures: Grant, we beseech thee, to maintain and manifest these thy digital devices to graft thy Word into the hearts of thy faithful people for the increase of thy true religion; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Justin Senneff bids the intercession of St. Clare of Asissi, whose patronage of those with eye diseases speaks to the hazards of excess screen time:
Visit we beseech thee O Lord, through the intercession of your servant St. Clare, the proper functioning of the technology placed in my care for the efficient fruition of the task at hand. To the glory of thy holy name. Through Christ our Lord! Amen.
Zack Wyckoff’s comprehensive prayer, while technically not in collect form, does call us to repentance for our misuse of technology:
O Almighty God, maker of all things, who hast called us to faith in thee, and who hast compassed us about with so great a gift as our ever-evolving technology; Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of thy Saints, may persevere in the race that is set before us. Keep us steadfast in our undying attempts, to improve and make our technology and it’s use more beneficial to the service of Thy Church, and pleasing in thy sight. We beseech thee also, Good LORD, to pardon and remit our manifold misdoings concerning its use, which we from time to time most grievously have committed. We ask this through Him who is the Author and finisher of our Faith; thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Steven Protzman gives us a worthy riff on the Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, unto whom all notebooks are open, all extensions known and from whom no passwords are hid, cleanse the workings of our laptops by the application of thy Holy Spirit, so that our electronic devices may worthily magnify thee and glorify thy trinary name, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and codeth with Thee, world without end. Amen.
Jaime M.W. Sanders provides a collect you may wish to use before your next Holy Week print run:
Almighty God, who gives energy to matter and directs us to work for your vision here on earth, we your humble servants feebly struggle with the tools on which that mission depends: grant that these machines may not tire; dispel the forces of the Adversary that seek to cause breakdowns at critical times of the Church Year; and give us patience and wisdom in working with technology; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
And last, but certainly not least, Adelaide Kent gives us a tweetable collect reminding us in all things to look to the one who is eternal:
O God who made s mortal so we seek U who r eternal, help s 2 bear w/o cursing the death of r devices, and 2 backup.
We’ll announce which collect we liked best on an upcoming episode of The Collect Call podcast. Meanwhile, tell us which of these you’d like to see in the next volume of Enriching Our Worship in the comments.