Still, far be it from me to prevent any of My Beloved Sinners from showing their congregation how Conservative Christians should really sound. Simply by following these four important rules you too can intercede as well as any professional with a lifetime’s worth of bogus degrees and credentials from every internet shopfront in Christendom. In fact I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to hear that by paying close attention more than a few of you end up enthroned as ‘bishops’ in ACNA by the end of January!
1) Remind God of the Basics.
While the incarnation and atonement might be pretty big deals to you and I, God tends to forget about them. Maybe that’s because He’s so busy ignoring starving children in order to help us find a parking space at Home Depot when we’ve got to purchase a new snow blower in a hurry. Or perhaps because seeing all those Youth Pastors masturbating when they think nobody’s watching (How Our Lord must weep every time one of them gets in the shower!) leaves Him too distressed to remember soteriological trivia.
Whatever the reason it’s our duty to remind Him at every opportunity. While you’re at it include as much Scripture as possible, since it’s also unlikely He’s as well versed in that as you. The following illustrates what you should be aiming for: “Almighty Father: As Your Word states in Romans 5:10, You have reconciled to Yourself all those who trust in the atoning death of Your Son, who by the shedding of His blood on Calvary established a New Covenant. For You have revealed in the ninth chapter of Hebrews…”
2) Use Incomprehensible Language.
Public prayer is the one instance when nobody’s going to think you’re telling an Amish joke if you start using ‘Thee’ and ‘Thou’. Although don’t think speaking ‘King Kames’ is all it takes to pray like a professional. The more complex and meandering your syntax the better, and there’s no such thing as too obscure a theological term if you’re serious about making an impression. Feel free to make words up if you can’t remember any genuine ones: in the very rare circumstance anyone dares question you afterwards just give a a faint-but-patronising smile and explain they needn’t concern themselves about such matters until they’re “ready for the meat of the Gospel”, but in the meantime you recommend they read something obscure by Pusey or Packer, depending upon, of course, which end of the Church you happen to reside.
Try this “... and thus, Eternal Lord, we beseech and magnify Thy anti-nomian parousia in estimation of the pompatus of love, O Father, reflecting not but that we might, but rather therefore that we might…”
3) Affect an Accent.
Let’s face it, when it comes to Anglicanism sounding English always adds credibility. If ++Rowan Williams spoke like he came from Arkansas all this talk about an Anglican Convenant would have disappeared years ago.
But don’t think just any English accent will do. It must be upper-class, or else you're simply wasting everybody's time - and just because God is eternal is no reason to believe He doesn't get bored just as quickly as the rest of us do. Cockney is fine if you’re trying to lead your Congregation in a rousing chorus of Chim Chim Cher-ee, or sell them stolen watches, but forget about it when it comes to prayer. Nor is drunken Scouse effective, although a crazed Scottish “Gezz aw yer bunsens ur i'll gie ye a Glascaw kiss.” can work wonders when it comes to the collection.
Under no circumstances should you ever attempt an Australian accent. The congregation will panic, and run out in search of the dingo they believe has taken your baby.
4) Betray Confidences.
This is the part that keeps everyone listening. “… we pray also for Mrs. Johnson from the Altar Guild, who has been struggling with immoral thoughts as a result of watching the firm young man next door shovel snow from his driveway…”. Since you’re praying nobody will ever dare label your words as gossip, so you’ve got a free pass when it comes to getting even with anyone who’s been getting in your way.
Don’t be shy about dropping names either, since you only have the prayee’s best interests at heart and it's easy to justify any pain you cause by saying that God knows exactly who they are anyway. Yet remember that some of the most effective prayers leave everyone guessing about the subject’s identity: “Let us commend to Your fatherly goodness the young person who came to me requesting prayer concerning a deeply shameful personal matter...”
In fact there's not actually any need for truth to play any part in things at all. Simply making it all up can work wonders when it comes to getting what you're asking for: “…we also entrust to your care, gracious Lord, the member of our Vestry who has been observed secretly associating with those who have chosen to pursue a homosexual lifestyle, and we ask that all your Servants may be blessed with wisdom in their dealings with this young man, so that he may by Your Mercy be wise in his choice to seek life instead of death.”
God mightn't be fooled by this one, but providing your Parish is Conservative enough it's guaranteed to never fail when it comes to keeping pesky wardens in line.
I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.