The word Collect is the noun version of the verb ‘collect’, as in, to gather up. In the prayer book a Collect is a prayer that gathers our thoughts and intentions together so we can offer them to God.
A Collect has a pretty basic structure, which includes:
O God, you are ________ :
These are the attributes of character of God to which the prayer is drawing our attention.
We ask ____________ ,
This is what the prayer is requesting of God, keeping in mind the quality of God we just mentioned in the address.
so that ____________ ;
This is the intention or purpose of petitioning God.
The last part of the prayer praises God and/or declares our confidence in making our request.
Here’s an example of a prayer written in the 11th century for the Latin mass, but included in the earliest Book of Common Prayer by Thomas Cranmer.
The Collect for Purity
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Try writing your own Collect following this pattern:
O God, ________________________: We ask ___________________________________________ ,
so that __________________________________________________ ; through ________________