O Almighty Lord God, who for the sin of man didst once drown all the world, except eight persons, and afterward of thy great mercy didst promise never to destroy it so again; We humbly beseech thee, that although we for our iniquities have worthily deserved a plague of rain and waters, yet upon our true repentance thou wilt send us such weather, as that we may receive the fruits of the earth in due season; and learn both by thy punishment to amend our lives, and for thy clemency to give thee praise and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
– Prayer “For Fair Weather”, Book of Common Prayer
For those of us in the west – particularly those of us living and working in urban or suburban settings – the emphasis in older prayer books, such as the Book of Common Prayer, on the weather or on protection in darkness (“Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord…”) can seem to us merely picturesque.
Our lives are so better insulated from the effects of the weather, in particular, that the idea of praying for either rain or for fair weather seems almost irrelevant. And as for prayers “In Time of Dearth and Famine”, well, dearth and famine are now a matter of location rather than of time: something that happens to other people elsewhere, rather than something that may occasionally happen to us. So it’s not surprising that the equivalent section in the Church of England’s latest liturgy, Common Worship, does not include any prayers on this subject.
It seems to me that, for many of us today, the place once taken by the weather is now occupied by the economy: forces we barely understand and over which we have no control, that one minute can shine benevolently upon us (sometimes for a whole “nice” decade), and the next can bring us uncertainty, misery or even ruin.
I’m not sure that modern liturgies have picked up on this at all. I don’t recall encountering prayers for benevolent economic circumstances, and certainly the Common Worship texts linked above do not include this. The nearest they come are prayers “for those engaged in commerce and industry” and “for social justice and responsibility”. That in itself may show how the liturgical life of the church has become increasingly detached from the concrete, day-to-day realities of our lives, in favour of airy generalities.
But if anyone does know of any prayers for benevolent economic conditions (or for use In Time of Economic Dearth) then do please mention them in the comments.