BIDDING PRAYER: Originally bidding of prayers, signifying "the praying (offering) of prayers," one of the meanings of the verb "to bid" down to the Reformation being "to ask pressingly, to beg, to pray." As this meaning became obsolete the phrase was interpreted to mean "the ordering or directing of prayers"; i.e., an authoritative direction to the people concerning what or whom they should pray for, such directions being not uncommon in England in the sixteenth century. Still later "bidding" was taken as an adjective and the phrase "bidding prayer" came to mean the prayer before the sermon, which the preacher introduced by directing the congregation to pray for the Church catholic, the sovereign and the royal family, different estates of men, etc. (Constitution and Canons of the Church of England, § 55). A collect is now usually substituted for it, as the sermon, except on rare occasions, is preceded by the common prayers, which include the petitions prescribed by the canon. When, however, these prayers are not said before the sermon (as at university sermons), and on occasions of more than usual solemnity, the "bidding prayer" is used.
Bibliography: Forms of the Bidding Prayer are to be found in Manuale et Processionale . . . ecclesiæ Eboracensis, ed. W. G. Henderson in Surtees Society Publications, no. 63, Durham, 1875, and in F. Procter, Hist. of Book of Common Prayer ... revised by W. H. Frere, p. 394, London, 1905. Consult C. Wheatley, Bidding of Prayers before Sermons, London, 1845; D. Rock, Church of our Fathers, 3 vols., ib. 1849-53.