Why do we pray during our services?
- To lead the congregation in prayer for other people and situations
- To pray for God’s Kingdom to come, for God’s will to be done and for our ‘daily bread’ (Matthew 6:9-13)
- To pray for everyone, especially those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness – so that all people will be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
- To model intercessory prayer, so that what we do in our services becomes part of our everyday lives
Preparation and Feedback
- spend time praying and thinking about what to put in: ask the Vicar what her theme is
- look at the readings: they will be printed in the Newsletter but if you wish to prepare in advance you can find the readings here.
- think about the nature of the service: e.g. is it Parish Communion, All Age or a special service?
- time yourself beforehand: it should be no more than 3 or 4 minutes when read slowly
- keep the language simple and clear.
- ask for feedback from the person leading the service, friends and members of the congregation
Who or what do we pray for?
- The world: peace, world leaders, environmental issues, conflict…..
- The Church (the people of God): world wide and local. Please do pray for us as a church community to grow in number and depth.
- The local community
- Those who are in trouble: ill, anxious and those who care for them. Consider praying ‘generically’ and allowing silent space for people to name individuals they know who are in trouble in that way. Please mention the first names of those mentioned in the newsletter and also anyone else who has asked you or a member of ministry team for prayer.
- Those who have died recently (again, first names only) and those who are grieving their loss. You can include the full names of those whose anniversary of passing is in this week.
- What is big this coming week? (e.g. Elections-but don’t tell people how to vote!)
- What has touched you this week? A special concern?
- Financial difficulty? A successful business deal? A news story?
- Warning: Try not to be too personal: if there is something personal, make it general.
- What has touched the community? Use the specific to pray out to the general. (e.g. A child killed in a road accident: “We pray for the family – that in their sorrow they will know comfort of friends, hope, strength and peace. We pray for other families who have lost children”). Ask – what is it (if anything) that people will have on their minds as they come to church (e.g. School or University exams)
- What are the issues that we are supporting or dealing with as a Christian community: mission focus, new team members, study groups or confirmation classes, Holiday club, etc. Use notice sheet and make sure you are on the email list to receive the newsletter and Ministry Matters so you can look at what’s on in the coming weeks.
- What is the bible passage about? Does it give any hints? Is there a theme or example that you can relate to? (Warning: Do not preach another sermon!).
- You may wish to use the London Diocesan Cycle of prayer that has suggested topics for prayer for churches in the diocese and dioceses around the world.
Top tips of things to avoid:
- Confession or meditation
- Telling God what is what
- Telling people what God thinks
- Telling people what you think (about the latest hot topic!).
- Don’t preach at people, or express your own personal viewpoint (eg. we pray that the Liberal Party will win the next general election)
- Do not pray ‘spur of the moment’ prayers, unless you are sure it is appropriate. Usually they ramble and waffle.
- Occasionally, it might be right to major on one country or on one situation, or on the particular day of the Christian year.
- Avoid the temptation to teach during prayers : prayers are from the people to God, not vice-versa!! Also be extremely careful when praying about subjects which may be sensitive to members of the congregation, such as divorce, etc.
- Putting on a ‘prayerful voice’: yours is wonderful the way God made it
- Standing miles away from the microphone. The congregation would love to hear your prayers and some of our community rely on the ‘hearing loop’ system to do this. If you’d like to practice with the microphone before the service please do. And use the stool to stand on if you are on the short side!
Planning for Normal Parish Communion
1. Do use responses for each "section", as it helps the congregation to be part of the prayers:
- use the one in the service book for that time of year
- OR: repeat the response at the beginning, so that people know what it is they are being asked to say e.g. Prayer leader: "To the bidding: Lord of Life and Love - please respond - Hear our prayer. Lord of Life and Love..." Congregation: "Hear our prayer".
- keep the response short and simple
2. You can use the framework of standard forms of prayer: you can find these in Common Worship here. You are of course welcome to mix the resources you use, such as:
- set prayers from the service book
- published prayers from other books
- prayers you write yourself for the occasion
3. Keep prayers short and easy to concentrate on. Any prayers you choose/write should be no longer than the average 'collect' length, possibly less, you are after all praying in several sections.
4. Use silence and allow people space to pray. Give people time: silence always seems much longer to those who lead it, so time it on your watch. 15-30 seconds of silence is a good length of time.
5. Do give your prayers a sense of starting and ending. It's often good to start with a bidding (e.g. from the service book or sheet) and finish with an ending (e.g. and so we commend ourselves, each other and our whole lives to you. Merciful Father...
6. Finally - do include thanksgiving in your prayers!
Planning for other services:
e.g. All Age Service, special service
If you are asked to do the intercessions for such services do seek guidance over the theme of the service and try to link with that. It maybe that you can draw those of other ages to say some of the prayers that you write to give it the feel of all of the congregation being included in the prayers.
Sometimes prayers in such services will include movement or a level of interactivity to engage the congregation.