Corporate Prayer: An Example

How might we improve corporate prayer? Last month, I suggested that we replicate a practice of the early church in which worshipers are given time to take petitions to the Lord in silent prayer simultaneously.

Some readers have inquired as to what this might look like in practice. Below, I’ve published Second Reformed Presbyterian Church’s whole order of service from last Lord’s Day morning. You can see our developing practice of corporate prayer. We’re not saying we’re praying the best way, or the only way, or the way that we will always pray; we’re just trying to grow in our love for the Lord and in our prayer life.

Members have provided enthusiastic feedback as we have experimented with different forms of the same basic method over the last few weeks and months. They note that this method calls them to be more engaged in prayer in worship (and less drowsy), leads them to greater communion with God and others, and teaches them to pray by example and by practice. The net result is that we lift up far more requests to the Lord than if the voice of one leader vocalizes prayer during the entire time of corporate prayer. Saints have time to pray for unique things on their hearts that they might never vocalize or that would not be mentioned to God otherwise.

Since last week’s sermon was on the topic of peace in a series on the fruit of the Spirit, you’ll notice the theme of peace was featured in many parts of the service. The whole service lasted one hour, eighteen minutes. The corporate prayer time took fourteen minutes. Unless otherwise noted, all parts of the service were led by the pastor.

Order of Service of Morning Worship on August 6, 2017:

Call to Worship: Isaiah 2:3, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob…”

Greeting: Grace and peace from God using Ephesians 1:2.

Congregational Singing: Psalm 122A (Psalm 122:1-9),[1] we rejoiced to be in God’s presence and prayed for the peace of the church.

Prayer of invocation: Led by an elder.

Explanation of Psalm 37D (Psalm 37:32-40): Led by an elder.

Congregational Singing: Psalm 37D.

Confession of Sin: Congregation sang from Psalm 25B (Psalm 25:8-15).

Assurance of Pardon and Peace with God: Read Romans 5:1-2.

Corporate Prayer:

Pastor: Opened with a prayer of adoration of God and thanksgiving.

  • Intern spoke to the congregation: “Now give God praise and adore him for his attribute or characteristic that has most captured your attention this week. Let us pray:”
  • Congregation: Silently prayed.
  • Pastor: Prayed a collect, a prayer wrapping up our adoration based on Exodus 34:6-7.
  • Intern spoke to the congregation: “Now, give God thanks for one of his mighty acts in your life this week and for one of his mighty acts in history. Let us pray:”
  • Congregation: Silently prayed.
  • Pastor: Prayed a collect, a prayer wrapping up our thanksgiving based on Isaiah 12:5-6. He included gratitude for particular kindnesses of the Lord to the whole congregation.
  • Intern spoke to the congregation: “Pray for growth in our children as they return to school. Pray also for the return of prodigal children to our gracious Father. Let us pray:”
  • Congregation: Silently prayed.
  • Pastor: Prayed a collect, a prayer wrapping up our pleas for our children based on Proverbs 4:10-11 and Isaiah 54:13 and included a brief supplication for the youth group, expectant mothers, and other particular needs of young people.
  • Intern spoke to the congregation: “Pray for the leaders of your city and neighborhood. Pray that leaders would seek the good of the people and righteousness that exalts a city. Let us pray:”
  • Congregation: Silently prayed.
  • Pastor: Prayed a collect, a prayer wrapping up our supplication for our civil leaders based on Proverbs 13:34-35 with a special focus on prayer for members of our city council and also for wisdom for our national leaders related to current events.
  • Intern spoke to the congregation: “Pray that we would grow corporately to love one another, and that we would learn to serve one another, forgive one another, and bear with one another. Let us pray:”
  • Congregation: Silently prayed.
  • Pastor: Prayed a collect, a prayer wrapping up our requests for growth as a congregation based on John 15:12 and for development of Christlikeness in the congregation.
  • Intern spoke to the congregation: “Pray for vision as a congregation that the Lord would use us in his kingdom and especially for the ministries of the church beginning again this fall. Let us pray:”
  • Congregation: Silently prayed.
  • Pastor: Prayed a collect, a prayer asking God to lead us forward based on Isaiah 54:1-2 with mention of a handful of ministries of the congregation.
  • Intern spoke to the congregation: “Now, pray for the advance of the gospel here and around the world, and especially for our missionary friends. Let us pray:”
  • Congregation: Silently prayed.
  • Pastor: Prayed a collect, a prayer wrapping up our intercession for the advance of the gospel based on Isaiah 2:3 with special mention of missionaries sent from the congregation, local evangelistic efforts, outreach among neighbors and friends, and one other congregation in our presbytery.
  • Pastor: Concluded the prayer time and upheld other matters not included elsewhere, such as those engaged to be married, the sick and shut-ins, and other assorted matters on our hearts.
  • (Note: we have varied the topics from week to week and some items are upheld in conjunction with the collection of the tithes and offerings).

Giving of Tithes and Offerings by the Congregation: Introduced with a brief explanation of the Old Testament peace offering (Leviticus 7:11-18) as related to giving today. Our choral ensemble sang Psalm 38A (Psalm 38:1-8) as the offering was collected.

Prayer: Thanks was given for the privilege of giving tithes and offerings, and supplication was made for the work of the deacons and financial stewardship, care for the poor, and care of the church property (including thanks for a recent youth workday).

Congregational Singing: Psalm 34C (Psalm 34:11-22), in which we exhorted one another to seek peace with all our heart.

Scripture Reading: Galatians 5:22-23

Sermon: “A Fruit of the Spirit: Peace”

Congregational Singing: Psalm 133A (Psalm 133:1-3), praised God for the beauty of peace among his people.

Benediction: Hebrews 13:20-21, the blessing of the God of peace.

Doxology in Congregational Song: Psalm 72C, stanza 4 (Psalm 72:19)

[1] All Psalms sung are from The Book of Psalms for Worship, (Pittsburgh: Crown & Covenant), 2009.