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SALTASH AREA CHURCHES

Discovering God's Kingdom – Growing the Church

Leading Prayer Through Intercessions

Often in our worship, we are led in prayer by others. In practice, this is often in the gathered community of Christians who are asked to join their prayers together in petition for the needs of the Church and the world, and for all who are in need. All Christians are called to share in the ministry of Christ’s intercession for the whole world.

We have many individuals who volunteer each week to lead our intercessions, but it would be great to have a few more, so if you are interested, please let me know.

Guidelines

For those who have been leading intercessions for some time and those who are considering this ministry, here are a few guidelines:

It is important to prepare for the task of leading the intercessions with care because in every case the intercessor is not just offering prayers independently, but also helping to encourage others in their own.

Structure

It is helpful to retain a basic structure for the intercessions, since familiarity will help people to join in, and will help the intercessor plan what is to be said.

There are a number of different structures, but the typical pattern for intercessions in Common Worship services is this:

  1. The Church of Christ;
  2. Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority;
  3. The local community;
  4. Those who suffer;
  5. The communion of saints.

It is sometimes appropriate to deviate from the pattern, especially on a significant occasion or in time of catastrophe.

Responses

Some intercessions include a response from the congregation, we often use the response:

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer. (All)

or

Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us. (All)

If using an unfamiliar response don’t just tell the congregation what it is, always ask the congregation to repeat it before the intercessions begin.

Responses can help to break up the prayers to help people concentrate. They also help people to join in, just as we say ‘Amen’ at the end of prayers.

We often use the pattern above, or the equivalent in several different ways. For example, by using an invitation to prayer, sometimes called a ‘bidding’:

Let us pray for the sick and for those who suffer, for all in the nursing homes and hospices of our parish, and for those who are housebound. We remember all who are sick, among them … (a list of names follows).

NB We should only use Christian names and no details of the person’s ailment or treatment!

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Sometimes we Integrate the ‘bidding’ into the prayer:

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, especially … (a list of names follows) … and all those being cared for in this parish. Give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation.
Again, we should only use Christian names and no details of the person’s ailment or treatment!

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Sometimes it is appropriate to pray more freely, using different words:

We hold in your presence all who are being cared for in this parish, and thank you for the care and dedication of the staff. We name before you all those with particular needs who have asked for our prayers, especially … (a list of names follows – but not their particular needs). May they know your presence with them, and that you are their strength, their healing, and their salvation.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Further Guidance

Like other forms of ministry, leading the intercessions in a service is both a privilege and a responsibility.

  • Remember that you are helping to lead others in prayer, not simply praying in public;
  • the language of your intercessions should broadly match the style and vocabulary normally used in our church’s worship;
  • the intercessions are not a ‘shopping list’ of concerns, nor are they a news report or an opportunity to express a personal opinion which might not be shared by others; they are appeals to God who already knows the prayers on our hearts.

If you would like further guidance on leading intercessions then you may wish to read: Leading Common Worship Intercessions: a Simple Guide, by Doug Chaplin, which provides a more comprehensive introduction.

Every blessing and thank you to all who lead our intercessions.
Yours in Christ
Cathy