Prayer circle (Mormonism)
In Mormonism, a prayer circle, also known as the True Order of Prayer is a ritual established by Joseph Smith, Jr. that some Mormons believe is a more potent means of receiving blessings and revelation from God. The ritual involves an antiphonic recitation of prayer by participants joined in a circle, usually around an altar in a temple.
Origin of Mormon prayer circles
Prayer circles were common in the Protestant revivals of the Second Great Awakening that occurred in the youth of Joseph Smith, Jr. Ritual circles were also practiced in Freemasonry, to which Smith had been initiated in 1842. Early Mormons practiced conventional Protestant-type prayer circles at least as early as 1833.
On May 4, 1842, Smith met with nine other men and performed the first Endowment ceremony. It is not clear whether this ceremony included a prayer circle. However, prayer circles became the main purpose of meetings of the Anointed Quorum on May 26, 1843. Women were first included in the ceremony on 28 September 1843.
Within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
After the murder of Joseph Smith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continued to practice prayer circles in Latter-day Saint temples. In addition, local stake and ward prayer circles were organized and conducted until May 3, 1978, when the First Presidency announced that all prayer circles should be discontinued except those performed in a temple as part of an Endowment ceremony. The reason for this change is unknown, but could have resulted in part from the explosive growth of the Church, and the fact that prayer circles were usually organized by a member of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Within Mormon fundamentalism
- Michael, Quinn, D. (Fall 1978), Tate, Jr., Charles D, ed., Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles (pdf) 19 (1), Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, pp. 84 & 105, retrieved May 3, 2011
- Kenney, Scott, ed. (July–August 1978), Update: Prayer Circles Discontinued (pfd), 5 3, Smith, Randal, Designer, Salt Lake City, Utah: Sunstone Magazine, p. 6, retrieved May 3, 2011
- Buerger, David John (1987), The Development of the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (4): 33–76.
- Buerger, David John (2002), The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship (2nd ed.), Salt Lake City: Signature Books, ISBN 1-56085-176-7: Excerpts.
- Nibley, Hugh (Fall 1978), Tate, Jr., Charles D, ed., The Early Christian Prayer Circle 19 (1), Provo, Utah: BYU Studies , pp. 41–78, retrieved May 3, 2011.
- Tate, George S. (1992), "Prayer Circle", in Ludlow, Daniel H, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 1120–1121, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140.
- ldsendowment.org (a detailed, but respectful, source of information about the Endowment ceremony).