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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
- “Bless those on their way.”
- “Bless those who gave and those who didn’t have it to give.”
- “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.”
- “Thank you, God for a reasonable portion of health.” God wants to give us health, not just a reasonable portion.
- Praying that people will find their homes in a better condition when they return.
- “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!
Other Articles To Read
- Commentary on the Lord's Prayer
Of all the prayers that people have written and spoken, the one used most often by Christians is the The Lord’s Prayer.
- Praise and Worship: What's the Difference?
There is a difference between praise and worship.
- Mistakes Preachers Make In The Pulpit
Preachers are humans. Therefore, they make mistakes too. However, it becomes a concern when preachers continue to make the same mistakes over and over while preaching in the pulpit.
- How to Understand the Bible
In order to understand the Bible, you must read the Bible, and you must read it daily. Then as you read the Bible you will begin to understand it.