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Tried to put the gist of this in the subject.

Often in my tradition (ELCA), the preacher will say a quick prayer before preaching; often it's the "May the words of my mouth.." prayer, or something similar.

I can't seem to find any history on it, though... why do we do it? Is it historical? And the most important question: what is its liturgical name? - this is the question that lead me down this rabbit hole.

The closest I can find is the Munda cor Meum, but that's technically before the Gospel, not the homily, if I'm not mistaken. Is what I'm talking about just that, but transposed?

Any ideas or insight you could give would be tremendously helpful -- I've come to a dead end on my search, and I don't have my liturgy professor's phone number anymore. /:

Thank you, and Peace, Jarrod

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    The expression "words of my mouth" occurs in three Psalms: 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." — 54:2 "Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth." — 78:1 "Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.". The first one sounds the most likely to match what you heard. Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 15:36
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    Apologies, lemme reword - it's not always that scripture, the prayer/bidding can change between people. I'm looking for the name/history of the act of saying a prayer/bidding before the sermon.
    – Lennix
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 18:36
  • Right, your question was clear. That's why my response was in the comments and not submitted as an answer. I just offered it in case knowing where that phrase came from might help with your research, or perhaps trigger someone else's memory about what you're looking for. Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 19:05
  • Aha! Thanks for the assist.
    – Lennix
    Commented Apr 29, 2022 at 19:04

2 Answers 2

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The priest/preacher's prayer before the sermon/homily; what is it and why do the ECLA (and others) do it?

Some pastors and priests do this, at least I hope so.

St. Thomas Aquinas was foremost a man of prayer and suggests the following prayer before either writing a homily or preaching a homily:

O Creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with the loving knowledge of you, that I may bring your light to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries which you have revealed. - Prayer Before Writing or Preaching by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

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The phrase you mentioned sounds like Psalms: 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD…”

It’s really not anything liturgical in Lutheranism. It’s just a way of opening a sermon. The phrase, “grace, mercy & peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” is also often used. That phrase comes from the Epistles. Oddly, I don’t see Martin Luther using such introductions to his sermons.

It’s funny how sometimes in non Lutheran churches there is even a more lengthy liturgical formula that is used to introduce the sermon. For example:

“This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess: My mind is alert, My heart is receptive. I will never be the same. I am about to receive The incorruptible, indestructible, Ever-living seed of the Word of God. I will never be the same. Never, never, never. I will never be the same. In Jesus name. Amen.”

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