Praying together as a church is one of the great privileges of being a Christian. A key part of our prayers are our intercessions, when we pray that God will do what he has promised to do. Without preparation, our public intercessions can get a bit thin. If you are preparing to lead the intercessions in your church, you might find the following helpful. You could also use it to train others to lead the intercessions.

Pray Global Prayers, Not Just for The Congregation’s Needs

While it is good to pray for local needs, make sure that you pray big prayers as well. Let your prayers be as global as the Lord’s prayer: ‘Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Let God’s plan enlarge your prayers!

Pray for The World, As Well As For The Church

Remember Paul’s instructions to Timothy, ‘I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’ (1 Timothy 2:1–2). It is good to pray for our nation, for other nations, for our world, as it is good to pray about issues in the community and our daily work, as well as the work of our church

Pray Biblical Prayers

Base what you pray for on verses from the Bible: claim God’s promises, using the words he gave us. Read Nehemiah’s prayer in Nehemiah 1:5–11 and notice how he bases his prayer on the promises, words, and works of God. Read Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:15–23, and pray prayers as big as that! You could base your prayers on a Bible prayer, for example a Psalm. You could base your prayers on the Lord’s prayer

Pray Gospel Prayers

It is good to pray for our needs, for good health, safety and peace. We should also pray for people to be converted. These include family and friends, neighbours, people at work. Pray also for gospel growth across our nation and overseas. Don’t just pray for the personal needs of your missionaries, pray for their mission as well!

Prepare Your Prayers

Spend time in preparing what you will pray, the shape of your prayers, and how you will pray. You might like to include a special prayer which you will pray at the start and finish of your prayers. You might like to include a responsive prayer, for the congregation to pray. So, for example, at the end of each section of your prayers, you could pray, ‘Heavenly father, hear our prayers’, and the congregation could then pray, ‘through Jesus Christ our saviour’.

Prayers which are prepared are not less spiritual than prayers which are spontaneous. We sing prepared songs, many of which are prayers. And the Lord’s prayer is a prepared prayer!

You could write out all that you will say; you could write out some parts, and use headings for the rest; or you might just write out an outline. But whether you write something or not, prepare for this important task of public ministry.

Feel Free to Write Out Your Prayers

Prayers which are prepared are not less spiritual than prayers which are spontaneous. We sing prepared songs, many of which are prayers. And the Lord’s prayer is a prepared prayer!

Include Praise, Thanksgiving, Confession, Lament, And Dedication

The main purpose of intercessions is to ask that God will act, that he will do what we are praying for. However it is good to praise God for who he is and what he has done, to thank him for all his gifts, especially salvation through Christ, to confess what we have done wrong or failed to do, to lament or grieve the many sadnesses of our world, and to dedicate ourselves, when we resolve to serve God and his purposes. Even including two or three of these will enrich and strengthen our intercessions.

Pray Prayers That Everyone Can Pray

Remember that you want all believers who are present to be able to say Amen! So don’t ride your own hobbyhorses, don’t preach at people, and don’t put words into people’s mouths which would make them feel like hypocrites. You want the congregation to be able to say a heartfelt ‘Amen’ to your prayers.

Use The Microphone Well

Most people naturally pray in a quiet voice. But we need to ensure that everyone who is present can hear the prayers we pray, and that they are engaged in praying with us. So don’t use your quiet confidential voice. Pray your prayers with a big voice, to encourage others to join in the prayers. If you speak too quietly and confidentially, the microphone and audio system won’t be able to project your voice. Speak with a big voice, engaging others in your prayers: if it is too loud, they can always turn down the volume!

​​​End Your Prayers Well​

We can and should only come to God through Jesus Christ our great high priest, and his atoning sacrifice on the cross. So make sure that every prayer ends with words such as ‘through Jesus Christ’. Make sure that you include a longer and fuller statement of this truth at the conclusion of your prayers.

For more ideas: See Stuart Olyott, Reading the Bible and Praying in Public (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2008).