Okay, after all that stuff about the “directionality” of the Eucharist (ta, PW), I wonder if we have overlooked a simple question: Is the Mass a prayer?
There is a lot in that simple question, however. Because if it is, then to speak of offering “a sacrifice of prayer and praise” must include the offering the mass. Moreover, if we can offer a prayer for specific intentions, and in fact ask other’s to offer this prayer for us, why can’t we offer the Mass for special intentions and request priests to do this for us (with or without a stipend attached, which is in fact an offering for the support of the priest, not “paying” for the Mass).
It is related to the question of whether the “Verba Domini” in the liturgy are “proclamatory” or “precatory”–ie. are they preaching to the people, or are they included (as in all rites of the ancient Christian tradition) within a prayer.
For those Lutherans who still worry about these sorts of things and still have east-facing altars: do you consecrate the sacrament facing the altar or facing the people? Note that not even Luther turned the altars around or invented celebrating from a table or the “north-side”.
And if we concede that the entire liturgy of the Mass is indeed a prayer, then is it not the greatest and most worthy prayer that we can offer: the prayer that is not only “in the name of Jesus” but Jesus himself?
Further there is no contradiction between being given a prayer and offering it. The Psalms are the word of God, given to us, but they were meant for us to use as a prayer back to God, and not simply for preaching. The Lord’s Prayer is given to us by Christ himself. If you want to talk about “directionality”, he “communicated” the prayer to us and we pray it back to the Father.