Prayer Guidelines For Corporate Worship

God hears every prayer that is prayed with a sincere heart. The purpose of this teaching is to give some basic guidelines for praying CORPORATE PRAYERS more effectively.

A true corporate prayer is a single voice praying to God on the behalf of ALL the people assembled. While we do pray for all people at other times, corporate prayers are for those who have gathered together for worship.

"Let Us Pray"

"Let US Pray" are three sufficient words. Notice, it is let "us" and not let "me." Corporate prayer should include everyone who is assembled.

There is no need to say, "Bow your head for a moment of prayer." Some people might not want to bow their heads.They might just want to close their eyes. Telling people how they should posture themselves takes away their free will. Also, your "moment" of prayer typically lasts longer than a moment.

Do not ask, "Shall we pray?" because it is a question. When you ask, “Shall we pray?” it is as if you are asking permission to pray. You are the leader and the one in authority at that particular time. Therefore, simply say, “Let us pray.”

If you are the one leading the prayer in corporate worship, make it a habit to use “We,” not “I" because you are representing everyone who is present. CORPORATE PRAYER should be inclusive; that simply means words such as "I" "me, "my," and "mine" should be replaced with "we,” “us,” our" and "ours." It is about God's people instead of one person using that platform for "personal requests."

CORPORATE PRAYER is a wonderful way to express unity as a leader speaks with one voice to God.

To use the church’s gathering for one person’s personal prayer is depriving the congregation of inclusivity; i.e. making everyone feel that they belong. Unless you plan to call out every name in the gathering, no personal names should be included in corporate prayer —not even the leaders and special ministries. Everyone has gathered as a body of believers to experience God through worship. To call some names and not all names (which is not feasible) excludes instead of includes. Corporate prayer is ONE person speaking to GOD on the behalf of ALL assembled.

Invocation

The first prayer of a worship service is usually referred to as the INVOCATION. The person praying the invocation does not pray a long drawn out prayer. Instead, the focus is only on God without requesting anything from Him or special blessings for people. It is the prayer to seek God’s face and not his hand. No personal requests should be made during the invocation. It is about

The invocation is the time to extol God for His presence at the beginning and throughout the service. Because corporate prayer is for all assembled, consider not saying “Bless those who are on their way.” Remember we are NOT ASKING for any blessings during the invocation except God’s presence. Besides, “those on their way” are not officially part of corporate worship at that particular time. It is not that we lack concern about their well-being, but technically they have not become part of the corporate gathering yet. Instead, we should encourage habitual late-comers to be present during the invocation.

Surely, we can communicate with God through prayer about every subject; however, every subject is not appropriate for the invocation. Reserve those things for your personal prayers that you pray at home or in your ministries. Some of these things include the weather, the government, politics, the leaders of the church, ministries in the church, family members or anyone or anything else.

Suggestions for the Invocation

  1. Begin with a direct address to God. Examples: Heavenly Father, Almighty God, Eternal God, Gracious God, etc. After the direct address at the beginning of your prayer, it is not necessary to repeatedly use it as a filler throughout the prayer.

  2. Identify who God is after the direct address. Examples: “ Our Father, who art in heaven” or “Almighty God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” or “Merciful God, the giver of ever good and perfect gift . . .” etc.

  3. Pray the scriptures or allude to them throughout your prayer. God loves to hear His words repeated back to Him. The scriptures give power to your prayer.

No Commentary, Please!

Refrain from inserting "commentary" in corporate prayer. Commentary is when you give your opinions about negative things going on in the world; things you have heard on television or read in the newspaper. Usually, commentary is prefaced by, "God, you know . . ." Then the person gives his opinion.

Refrain from giving” church news” in the invocation. For example, making reference to a crisis, a tragedy or any church-related news. Surely, church members should know about these things, but remember the invocation is all about inviting the presence of God into the midst.

Offertory Prayer

We should pray over the tithes and offerings ONLY; not for anything else. Think about not saying, "Bless those who had it to give and those who didn't have it to give." We are presenting the offering collected instead of focusing on what was NOT collected. Instead, we should encourage people that it is not what they give but that they give!

Don't Pray For the Sick and Shut In

You might find it strange to read, "Don't pray for the sick and shut in." There is a correct way to pray for those who are sick.

Never bless the sick and shut-in because if you do, you are blessing them in the condition they are in. We should thank God for their healing and wholeness instead of blessing them as they are.


Other Things To Consider in Corporate Worship

When reading the scriptures in corporate worship, do not say, “I’m coming from Psalm 105:1-3.” The first word out of your mouth is in reference to you (“I’m). It’s God’s word, so you could merely say, “The scripture reading is from Psalm 103:1-5.” When you begin to read, you may say, “The word of God reads . . .”

Please say the scripture reference loudly and clearly. Repeat it a couple of times. There is no need to say, “When you have found it say, “Amen!” Or even worse “If you haven’t found it, say “Hold on.”

After the reading, it is NOT necessary to say, “May God add a blessing to the reading of His word.” If you must say anything, simply say, “This is the word of the Lord.”

Do not say “I am using the NIV Version.” The “V” stands for version and to say the NIV Version is redundant. Say, “We are using the New International Version” or “We are using the NIV.” Either one is acceptable.

Avoid Trite and Overused Expressions

Avoid trite and overused expressions at all cost. Trite and overused expressions include the followings:

  1. “Bless those on their way.”
  2. “Bless those who gave and those who didn’t have it to give.”
  3. “I just want to thank you.”Just wanting to and thanking God are two different things. So thank God instead of “Just wanting to thank Him.”
  4. “Thank you, God for a reasonable portion of health.” God wants to give us health, not just a reasonable portion.
  5. Praying that people will find their homes in a better condition when they return.
  6. “Give So and So what she stands in need of.”

Avoid saying what you hear others say. Let God lead you into fresh and exciting revelations.

One More Thing

One final piece of advice about praying corporately: “Pray Before You Pray” and when you pray corporate prayers, your prayers will always glorify God and edify His people!

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14 comments

Treasuresofheaven profile image

Treasuresofheaven 5 years ago from Michigan

Good hub and teaching on how to do Corporate Prayer. I especially like the Trite and Overused Expressions. Nice job!


revmjm profile image

revmjm 5 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Treasuresofheaven: I presented this material in a workshop at my church.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

revmjm: Beautifully written thank you. Her is the way I view "Corporate Prayer" The Holy Spirit of God, encircles those offering their prayer, so that the group prayer of ten or a hundred voices, become one voice that the Holy Spirit then directs to Our Father.


revmjm profile image

revmjm 5 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Wow! Dave, that was a very good way of putting it. I really like what you said, "The group prayer of ten or a hundred voices become one voice that the Holy Spirit then directs to Our Father."


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

feel free to use that in a sermon if you want.


Betty Johansen profile image

Betty Johansen 5 years ago

One of my pet peeves is people who use prayer to preach. So I like your "No Commentary, Please!" section. This hub is an excellent guideline for corporate prayer - I've never heard it discussed before. Very enjoyable and instructive!


revmjm profile image

revmjm 5 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Betty, thanks for reading this article containing material I used to facilitate a workshop in my church.


Jason Hill profile image

Jason Hill 5 years ago

Nicely said Rev!


revmjm profile image

revmjm 5 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Jason, thanks for reading and responding!


Tara Howard 5 years ago

This was a wonderful article. I wish we had it before so many "church habits" were established. I find myself having to make a conscience effort not to make commands about how we pray when praying with others, because it is what was previously learned. I love that you discussed phrasing that is overused and unnecessary commentary.


revmjm profile image

revmjm 5 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Tara, I hope this is what you were looking for. Use any or all of the information for your group. Feel free to add your own ideas to it. Let me know if I can help you further.


martha S. 5 years ago

Great article on how to pray a corporate prayer.

I am going to re-read the article and try to improve my prayer when I have to pray a corporate prayer.


revmjm profile image

revmjm 5 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Thanks, martha S. for your comment. Feel free to use any of the information in your own church.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

I appreciate your practical teaching. Encouraging those who lead in prayer to not just follow what they've seen others do, but to think (and pray) about what they are doing and why, is great. Thanks!

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