An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Bidding Prayer

An informal intercessory prayer, covering a wide variety of concerns such as the church, the state, the living and the dead, and public and private necessities. It followed the sermon and the dismissal of the catechumens in the early church. The celebrant bid a particular intention of prayer, and the congregation joined in silent prayer for a short time until the celebrant summed up the congregation's prayers with a collect. Another bidding would follow, until the bidding prayer was concluded. The bidding prayer is the oldest form of intercessory prayer and has traditionally been said in the language of the people. It was replaced by the litany in the sixth century, and the litany later fell into disuse. The bidding prayer subsequently appeared as an unofficial group of intercessions in the Latin Rite in the middle ages. It was known as the “bidding of the bedes,” which means the praying of the prayers. The bidding prayer was flexible, and it could be adapted at the discretion of the celebrant. It was later formalized. In some places it preceded the sermon. Although the 1549 Prayer Book restored liturgical intercession, an Anglican canon of 1604 required a formal bidding prayer before the sermon. The 1928 BCP included a bidding prayer for use before sermons or on special occasions. The minister had discretion to shorten or lengthen the prayer. The ancient bidding prayer is reflected in the solemn collects of the Good Friday liturgy (BCP, pp. 278-280).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.