Prayer Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Prayer Worship Service Ideas</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Christian congregations have produced many models, patterns, and habits for structuring prayer. The best models feature both disciplined balance (to address a variety of concerns over time) and flexibility (to express the unique circumstances of a given moment). The model most suitable for a congregation&rsquo;s regular worship services will depend mainly on the size of the congregation, the degree of participation that can be achieved, and the expectations of the congregation</span> <span class="body-copy-sm">(<em>The Worship Sourcebook</em>, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013], 174).</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">In corporate worship, prayer too is corporate. Consider ways to invite the congregation to participate actively in the prayer:</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy">Use phrases like &ldquo;we offer . . .&rdquo; or &ldquo;we join our hearts . . .&rdquo; or &ldquo;let us bring our concerns and thanksgivings&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">Use a corporate spoken response throughout the prayer, such as &ldquo;Lord, hear our prayer&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">Use a sung refrain throughout the prayer</span></li></ul><p><span class="body-copy">There are many different types of prayer:</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy">Opening Prayer</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">Prayer of Praise or Thanksgiving</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">Prayer of Confession</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">Prayer for Illumination</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">Prayers of the People or Prayers of Intercession</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">Baptismal Prayers</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">The Lord&#39;s Prayer</span></li><li><span class="body-copy">Lord&rsquo;s Supper Prayers</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Ideas from Scripture for Prayer</span></strong></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">2 Chronicles 7:14</a>, &ldquo;If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, . . .&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 145:18</a>, the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> is near to all who call on him</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Jeremiah 29:12</a>, &ldquo;When you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 5:44</a>, pray for those who persecute you</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 6:9&ndash;13</a>, the Lord&rsquo;s Prayer</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 7:7</a>, &ldquo;Ask, and it will be given to you&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 7:11</a>, your Father in heaven will give good things to those who ask him</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 26:39</a>, Jesus prays in the garden</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Mark 11:24</a>, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Luke 23:34</a>, Jesus prays, &ldquo;Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 8:26</a>, we do not know how to pray as we ought</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 8:34</a>, Jesus intercedes for us</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 12:12</a>, rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Ephesians 6:18</a>, pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Philippians 4:6</a>, do not worry about anything</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Colossians 3:15&ndash;17</a>, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Thessalonians 5:16-18</a>, rejoice always; pray without ceasing</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Timothy 2:1&ndash;4</a>, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">James 5:13</a>, &ldquo;Are any among you suffering? They should pray.&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">James 5:16</a>, prayer is powerful and effective</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 John 1:9</a>, if we confess our sins, God will forgive</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 John 5:14&ndash;15</a>, God hears us</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections on Prayer</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">In the heavenly realms prayer is heard (or overheard) by more than one listener. For one thing, God is triune. Strong trinitarians may conclude that three listen, not just one. But then there&#39;s also the heavenly council, the ranks of angels and archangels. Perhaps they hear prayer. For all we know, so do the saints and martyrs. We surely don&#39;t know they don&#39;t. The point is that we likely pray into a whole cloud of witnesses.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Paul says that not only mere humans intercede. So what if a homeless Christian under a bridge prays to God? He doesn&#39;t have a prayer chain from his church to lobby God. The two other guys under the bridge are too out of it to intercede. But what if Christ, our mediator, intercedes for him? What if the Holy Spirit groans over him? What if angels and saints and martyrs light heaven up with their intercessions for him? &quot;Lord&mdash;and anybody else who may be listening&mdash;hear my prayer.&quot;</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Prayer calls for reverence before a holy God. Christians are aware that it is God to whom they pray. God is high&mdash;in fact, most high. God dwells in realms of glory. God is terrifying in purity, and the sworn foe of all evil. The Bible tells us that God&#39;s holiness in the temple was sometimes so intense that the priests had to back up. God was too hot for them that day. Once upon a time people loved God, but they also feared God because God is not domestic, not predictable, not safe at all.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Luther was stricken in the presence of God. Doesn&#39;t God shine like a billion stars? Isn&#39;t God the one before whom mere human beings must fall on their faces? Isn&#39;t God terrible in holiness and dramatic in justice? Isn&#39;t God&#39;s truth sharper than any two-edged sword? Isn&#39;t the desire to meet God a death wish for our sinful selves?</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">So worship leaders who are aware of God&#39;s holiness may adopt small strategies for honoring it. For instance, before the worship leader prays she pauses for four beats. When she finishes praying she pauses for four beats. These tiny silences frame the prayer as a reverent address to a holy God. Tone of voice can do it too. We&#39;ve all heard people affecting a reverent tone, and we all have heard it sound stagy. The tone is thin stained glass, and it easily shatters into parody. But you and I have also heard natural reverence in the voices of worship leaders: it&#39;s a respectful tone, courteous without being courtly or stuffy.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Silences and tones of voice can indicate deference to God&#39;s holiness. So can a deliberate choice of rhetorical register that lands someplace between tuxedo formal and tank-top casual. Here&#39;s tuxedo: &quot;O God, we harbor cognitive dissonance, transgressive communication, and deleterious enactments.&quot; Here&#39;s tank-top: &quot;I just wanna say, God, that we&#39;re, like, full of stinkin&#39; thinkin&#39;, nasty talkin&#39;, and crazy actin&#39;.&quot;</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Here&#39;s simple reverence: &quot;We have sinned in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds.&quot;</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Silences, tones of voice, and rhetoric that registers around upscale or business casual.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Also, if I lead worship in a way that is deliberately reverent, I am going to try to purge my public speech of fillers: &quot;Lord, we just wanna say, Lord, that you&#39;re an awesome God, Lord.&quot; Why not say simply, &quot;O God, you are awesome&quot;?</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Silences, tone of voice, rhetorical register, simplicity&mdash;all should be in the service of acknowledging an attribute of God we have been forgetting.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Finally, prayer is opportunity for fellowship with a loving God. We have a God who listens, who loves, who yearns for the best in us. We may pour ourselves out to God, knowing that at the end we will get ourselves back&mdash;stronger, cleaner, and more deeply loved than ever.</span></p>