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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 52 : Public Prayer

Paragraph 4 :

52-4. Ministers are not to be confined to fixed forms of prayer for public worship, yet it is the duty of the minister, previous to entering upon his office, to prepare and qualify himself for this part of his work, as well as for preaching. He should, by a thorough acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, by the study of the best writers on prayer, by meditation, and by a life of communion with God, endeavor to acquire both the spirit and the gift of prayer. Moreover, when he is to offer prayer in public worship, he should compose his spirit, and so order his thoughts, that he may perform this duty with dignity and propriety, and with profit to the worshippers, lest he disgrace this important service by coarse, undignified, careless, irregular or
extravagant expressions.


[DIGEST: The current text dates to 1975 [M3GA, 3-69, p. 81] and remains unchanged from that time. PCA 1973 had in the last sentence, "mean, irregular, slovenly, or extravagant effusions" in place of the later "coarse, undignified, careless, irregular or extravagant expressions.".]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
PCA 1975, 53-4, M3GA, 3- 69, p. 82.
Ministers are not to be confined to fixed forms of prayer for public worship, yet it is the duty of the minister, previous to entering upon his office, to prepare and qualify himself for this part of his work, as well as for preaching. He should, by a thorough acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, by the study of the best writers on prayer, by meditation, and by a life of communion with God, endeavor to acquire both the spirit and the gift of prayer. Moreover, when he is to offer prayer in public worship, he should compose his spirit, and so order his thoughts, that he may perform this duty with dignity and propriety, and with profit to the worshippers, lest he disgrace this important service by coarse, undignified, careless, irregular or extravagant expressions.

PCA 1973, Adopted text, DfW, 5-4, M1GA, Appendix, p. 156.
and
Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed text, DfW 5-4, p. 65

Ministers are not to be confined to fixed forms of prayer for public worship, yet it is the duty of the minister, previous to entering upon his office, to prepare and qualify himself for this part of his work, as well as for preaching. He should, by a thorough acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, by the study of the best writers on prayer, by meditation, and by a life of communion with God, endeavor to acquire both the spirit and the gift of prayer. Moreover, when he is to offer prayer in public worship, he should compose his spirit, and so order his thoughts, that he may perform this duty with dignity and propriety, and with profit to the worshippers, lest he disgrace this important service by mean, irregular, slovenly, or extravagant effusions.

PCUS 1894, DfW V-4 [§299]
It is easy to perceive, that in all the preceding directions there is a very great compass and variety : and it is commited to the judgment and fidelity of the officiating pastor to insist chiefly on such parts, or to take in more or less of the several parts, as he shall be led to by the aspect of Providence ; the particular state of the congregation in which he officiates ; or the disposition and exercise of his own heart at the time. But we think it necessary to observe, that althought we do not approve, as is well known, of confining ministers to set or fixed forms of prayer for public worship, yet it is the indispensable duty of every minister, previously to his entering on his office, to prepare and qualify himself for this part of his duty, as well as for preaching. He ought, by a thorough acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, by reading the best writers on the subject, by meditation, and by a life of communion with God, to endeavor to acquire both the spirit and the gift of prayer. Not only so, but when he is to enter on particular acts of worship, he should endeavor to compose his spirit, and to digest his thoughts for prayer that it may be performed with dignity and propriety, as well as to the profit of those who join in it ; and that he may not disgrace that important service by mean, irregular, or extravagant effusions.

COMMENTARY :



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I. King & Head of Church
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[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]