Intercession Preparation

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it matter that I prepare ahead of time to lead Prayers of the People?

Yes, I believe it does. It matters that the person who leads the prayers has an understanding of the purpose of the prayers, their place in the liturgy and the role of the Intercessor.

In a previous article of Prayer Matters, I wrote that Intercession is a relationship in which we share our concerns with each other and with God. It is appropriate that we should hold before God those people and situations in need of prayer. The Intercessory prayers should focus on God’s reconciling, transforming, and healing love. The Prayers of the People are the prayers offered as a Christian community. The worshipping community’s prayers are an expression of our belief that people, and the circumstances in the world that affect the human family, can be touched and changed through Jesus Christ and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. The prayers are given shape both by our awareness of human need and the Gospel vision of God’s Kingdom.

The Prayers of the People Gathered

In acting as an Intercessor in public worship one is bringing before God the prayers of the people gathered together. Ideally, the Intercessor expresses or vocalizes the prayers that the people have presented to him/her to offer on their behalf. The challenge facing parishes is to find ways in which the Intercessor can truly act as the gatherer of prayers and the encourager for others in the congregation to express the prayers that are in their hearts.

The Prayers of the People Are: an expression of what we are concerned about; what we are excited about; of our joys and of thanksgivings; about the world in which we live; about the concerns for the whole human family – both local and wider church concerns; brief, but clear; intended to challenge people to continue to pray about issues on their own; and a response to the church season and theme for the day.

The Prayers of the People Are Not: a sermon; long; the announcements; an occasion for promoting a personal point of view on issues; or a monologue in which the people have no part.

Preparing the Prayers

When preparing, the leader should pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, remembering that prayer is a gift from God. St. Paul says, “The spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27 – NRSV). Prayer is more than what we do; it is what God does through us.

When preparing: the bulletin should be checked; the order of service read; the appointed Scripture readings read, and the prayer focus they suggest, noted. The intercession format for the day needs to be chosen. Often churches use different formats each week with seasonal emphasis appropriate to the occasion. Individual parishes have different ways of encouraging parishioners to include particular prayer requests into the Intercessions. In some congregations, before the worship service begins, people are invited to indicate a name or situation for which they want prayers in an Intercession Book that is placed near the entrance to the worship space. The Intercessor expresses these needs when offering the Prayers of the People.

Various formats can be used. If special prayers have been prepared, or adaptations of the chosen form used, including the parish, diocesan, and world-wide Anglican cycle of prayer, they should be written out ahead of time. This will help to keep the prayers an appropriate length as well as avoid any embarrassing lapses of memory or confusion. The prayers can creative, and include current events, local, national, and international. Both thanksgivings, as well as petitions should be included.

There is sometimes a tendency to focus on prayers for local concerns and the healing of the sick. It is important to look beyond the immediate local concerns and pray for our political leaders, for business people, teachers, scientists etc., whose decisions affect the whole human family.

Leading the Prayers

It is important that the congregation understand that the Prayers of the People truly come from all of the people. Therefore, if practical, the Intercessor can lead from the midst of the people gathered. However, as with the Scripture Readings, it is very important the prayers be heard by the whole congregation. If a microphone is necessary to accomplish this, it should be used. The place from which the Prayers are led would be selected with this in mind.

When introducing the Prayers of the People it should be made clear to the congregation what the expected response to each petition is. In order to reinforce this, the Intercessor can introduce and join in the response. The response could also be printed in the bulletin or projected on a screen. During the Prayers, members of the congregation should be given the opportunity to express their concerns, and the intercessor should make space and time for them to articulate their cares and joys, either aloud or in silence.

Let God Work

Leading the Prayers of the People is a privilege and a responsibility. Be assured that, having been prepared well, God will hear the prayers and honour all that has been offered.

Intercessions

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it matter that I pray for others?

Yes. I believe that it does. It matters not only in our Anglican worship services where we traditionally include “Intercessions” or “Prayers of the People”, but also in our daily lives. Several years ago, a friend asked me: “Why do we pray every week for peace in the Middle East when history shows us that people have been fighting each other for thousands of years and the prayers for peace over the centuries have not made any difference?” How you would answer that question? The question caused me to think deeply about why we pray intercessory prayers for others.
Continue reading “Intercessions”

Reader Preparation

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it matter that I prepare ahead of time to read a Scripture Lesson

Yes. I believe that it does.

The scriptures are given a prominent role in Anglican liturgy. The church’s worship services are full of scriptural phrases and sentences. This prominence reflects the Anglican church’s emphasis through the centuries on the primacy of the scriptures. “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching , for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 – NRSV). If we are to respect this prominent role, we should understand the role of the Reader, or “Lector”.
Continue reading “Reader Preparation”

Thy Kingdom Come

Devoting Ourselves to Prayer

Ascension Day to the Day of Pentecost

May 25 to June 4, 2017

St. Luke writes that following the Ascension of the Lord, the disciples were gathered in an upper room “constantly devoting themselves to prayer”. A number of women joined them including Mary, the mother of Jesus. (Acts 1:14).
Continue reading “Thy Kingdom Come”

Healing

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it Matter That We Pray for Healing?

It is natural and appropriates that we should want a person healed of whatever malady that afflicts them, and so we pray that they be cured. But what about the situation in which the medical prognosis is that of an incurable disease or affliction? Should we still pray for healing? Yes, I believe we should.
Continue reading “Healing”

Prayer Walking

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

Does it matter if I am not “Still” when I pray?

I don’t think so.

When we think of prayer, most often we think of being still – standing, kneeling or sitting – while connecting with God. After all, doesn’t Scripture say: “Be still and know that I am God”. (Psalm 46:10, [NRSV])? However, being still is not the only way we can pray. Some people do their best, and are most comfortable, praying while they are moving.
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Sensible Prayer

Prayer Matters

Paul Dumbrille

If we restrict our understanding and the practice of prayer as being an activity of the head it can be likened to a bird trying to fly with one wing. We are missing the richness of the use of the senses that God has given us. We learn about the physical world around us by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing. So, too, we can use our senses to learn about and experience God. To “sense” something is to understand and experience life, gaining knowledge and achieving our potential. Continue reading “Sensible Prayer”

Easter Newsletter from Archdeacon A. Paul Feheley

On my desk at the national office is a piece of tile from someone’s floor. That may seem like a strange thing, but for me it is an important symbol of Easter’s faith and hope, and I know I will never forget its meaning.

In October 2012, I had the privilege of visiting Japan for the 100th anniversary of the diocese of Chubu. A significant part of that visit was to travel to a portion of the land that had been overwhelmed with water in the Tsunami of March 2011. There are three things that are still vivid in my mind about that visit.
Continue reading “Easter Newsletter from Archdeacon A. Paul Feheley”