Why do we pray during our services?
- The Bible encourages it: Matthew 6:9-13; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Romans 8:26-27
- 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
- practice it and time yourself beforehand: it should be no more than 3 or 4 minutes when read slowly, or 400-500 words in total.
- move to be in place at the lectern at the back of church before you are due to speak and if you are wearing a mask remove your mask completely (no 'mask beard' please!) Usually the intercessions come after the Creed. Please move when people stand to say the creed. Start praying as soon as the Vicar has said 'let us pray for the church and for the world and let us thank God for his goodness'. Usually everyone is seated/kneeling by then. We want to avoid long pauses when nothing is happening in worship; but do feel free to keep silence in the prayers. 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.
- spend time praying and thinking about what to put in: ask the Vicar what the theme is. Occasionally, it might be right to major on one country or on one situation, or on the particular day of the Christian year. Be extremely careful when praying about subjects which may be sensitive to members of the congregation, such as divorce, etc.
- 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?
- keep the language simple and clear, and the 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
- pray for those mentioned on our service sheet
- include thanksgiving in your prayers
- ask for feedback after the service from the person leading the service, friends and members of the congregation
- stand 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.
- go on too long - please no more than 3-4 minutes when read slowly (see above)
- mention the surnames of the sick or the recently died
- forget to include the full names of those whose anniversary of passing is in this week: some people may attend church only once a year to hear a name read out.
- lead people in confession or meditation
- tell God what is what
- tell people what God thinks or what you think (about the latest hot topic!).
- preach at people, or express your own personal viewpoint (e.g. we pray that the Liberal Party will win the next general election!)
- pray ‘spur of the moment’ prayers, unless you are sure it is appropriate. Usually they ramble and waffle.
- teach during prayers : prayers are from the people to God, not vice-versa.
- put on a ‘prayerful voice’: yours is wonderful the way God made it.
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 and for all our outreach activities (e.g Alpha (please pray before it starts as well as each week it is running), Messy Church, the Drop-In Cafe).
- The local community
- Those who are in trouble: ill, anxious and those who care for them. Please always use the prayer folder to pray for the sick as it may have been updated since the newsletter went out (first names only). Consider also praying ‘generically’ and allowing silent space for people to name individuals they know who are in trouble in that way.
- Those who have died recently (again, first names only taken from the folder) and those who are grieving their loss.
- What is big this coming week? (e.g. elections, disaster)
- 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.
Planning for Normal Parish Communion
- use the response in the service book for that time of year (e.g. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer) OR: repeat the response right away 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
You are welcome to use set prayers from the service book, published prayers from other books or prayers you write yourself for the occasion
Planning for other services: