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Praying in Church

  1. Is there any biblical precedent for praying as a church?
    • Numerous Old Testament gatherings e.g. Nehemiah 9
    • Core part of the early church e.g. Acts 2:42
    • Commands to pray in the epistles are written to churches not individuals.
  2. To whom are we praying?
  3. For whom/what might we pray?
  4. Frameworks for Prayer
    • ACTS: Adoration / Confession / Thanksgiving / Supplication
    • Our World / Our Country / Our Church (and perhaps a moment of quiet to bring personal prayers to God)
    • Use the Bible – particularly the passage for that week – in your prayers:

“It is one thing to pray, “Lord, please be with us through this day.” It is quite another to pray, “Lord remember your promise, ‘I will never leave nor forsake you’ ” (Heb. 13:5). Can you sense the difference? It is one thing to pray, “As we begin our prayer, we thank you for the privilege of bringing our petitions to you.” It is quite another to pray, “We come at your invitation, O Christ, for you have promised, ‘Ask and you shall receive; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.’ And so we come asking, seeking, and knocking” (Matt. 7:7-8). It is one thing to pray in the middle of tragedy, “Lord we know that you have a plan.” That is a true, valid, and comforting thing to pray. Even so, it is quite another to pray, “O Lord, you have numbered the hairs upon our heads. You are working all things after the counsel of your will. Not even a sparrow may fall from a tree apart from you. You cause all things to work together for good for those who love you, and are called according to your purpose” (Matt. 10:29-30; Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:28). More effectively comfort the hearts of your people by echoing the promises of Scripture in your prayers.”[1]

  1. Guidelines
  • Prepare well, and aim to script most or all of it (use GG notes when praying in the sermon application)
  • Only attempt to extemporise if you can do so without stumbling – “err/um/just/really” distracts
  • Usually aim for 5 minutes, covering just a handful of areas
  • Try to strike the right balance of language and tone – simple, clear and heartfelt – slightly formal but avoid jargon that alienates guests (e.g. speaking bluntly about ‘evangelism’) and don’t adopt a ‘churchy’ voice
  • Include a confession (except Lord’s Supper when included in that liturgy) – resources available
  • We do not need to say the Lord’s Prayer every week, but if we do, ensure we project the modern version
  • Make sure any responses are explained and/or projected

[1] Terry Johnson and Ligon Duncan III, “Reading and Praying the Bible in Corporate Worship” in Give Praise to God, p159.