When our office manager took sick last year, I took over the preparing of the Prayers of the Faithful for our parish's weekend Masses. I had been toying with the thought of taking it on for a while, anyway, so when she was getting sicker and couldn't keep up with her work, I volunteered to take them off her hands.
I don't really write them, for the most part- I use a couple of books from a publisher, but adapt them and borrow from other places if they don't sound right. I don't want to add my own agenda to the prayers, but I do always go by the rule that the prayers of the faithful should represent the prayers of all the faithful- they should be prayers that everyone can agree with. I also change things like this: "for all who teach about the love of Christ...may they something something..." I make that "they" a "we" because I want to remind everyone that WE are all supposed to be teaching the love of Christ. That kinda thing.
Every week as I listen to someone read the prayers I've put together, I worry that they'll sound ridiculous, or that the lector will stop and the middle and say "wait... no, um, that doesn't make sense. Whatttt?" or something like that. I want them to sound sincere, applicable, and personal for our community. This weekend it dawned on me- we should be praying for the babies who are baptized each month! Of course!!! So, long story long, the Prayers are always a work in progress.
Monday, my pastor said "Oh I need to talk to you about the Prayers of the Faithful after the meeting." I wondered, had my almost-all Father-theme prayers that weekend pushed the limits? (There had been one for the fatherless, men who long to be fathers, and those who have lost children... I thought it was so beautiful and thoughtful- reaching out to the very people who might feel alienated by Father's Day.) But he didn't have a comment on the content, or even the writing- he wanted me to make a change to the closing prayer.
This is the prayer that the priest says after the lector has finished the other intercessions. It's something like "Oh Lord, Oooh you are so big, so absolutely huge..." and it brings the POTF's to a conclusion, whereupon we all say "amen." But my pastor said that people didn't seem to know, lately, when to say "amen" because the conclusions didn't end with the pavlovian Catholic cue, "forever and ever" or "through Christ our Lord..." so he asked me to be sure one of those phrases will be in there to end the closing prayer.
I find this interesting- we're so used to just saying our lines on cue that it's not enough to listen to the prayer to know when to say "amen." And there are people who would land on both sides of the argument: that A) we need to stretch people to listen more intently (prayerfully?) to the Prayers, or that B) we should encourage people to develop the reflex of saying "amen" whenever they hear the phrase "forever and ever." Maybe both. Either way, next week, I'll be making that change in the Prayers.