Prayers for Worship Services

“For me prayers are shared like ripples on a pond, never quite knowing where they’ll wash up or who may be moved by their rippling along the way.”  — David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church National Synod of Scotland

 

 

Use these tabs to source prayers for use in worship.

Vestry Prayers
Words to share before worship begins…

img_6975On this day, in this place, we thank you for the lives that we have and the many paths you guide us on.  We thank you for all the memories and people that comfort us, challenge us and support us along our way.  And we hope that we can support, challenge and comfort others on their journeys.

 

When we look around our congregation, our families and our friends, help us to see how blessed we are.  Help us be thankful for not only the good and happy times that help mould us, your creation, but also the hard, challenging and tough times, that without which we would not truly be able to understand your love in shaping us to be the best version of ourselves.

 

For all the many footprints in the sand that intertwine, cross each other and walk beside one another, we thank you.  For all the experiences and people we meet on our journeys and for your support in our choices, we thank you.

Thank you for making us us.  Amen.

 

Photo by Hugh Abel

Salisbury United Reformed Church
Salisbury United Reformed Church

Our Church meets in a building,
That is a civic pride.
We some times need a shoehorn
To fit the folks inside.
We have many groups, who meet here
And do the things they do.
But the buildings only made of stone
The church is me, is you.

Many folk can tell you
Where our church now meets.
On Sundays, high days, holidays
It’s here on this fine Street.
But what isn’t so noticeable,
Though very, very true,
We witness to the city
The church is me, is you.

Some of us have high profiles,
In every task we see.
Some of us rush and shout
Dissenting voices we.
Some of us are quieter folk
Who gently pray and do
In this family of the church
The church that’s me, that’s you

Liz Grant, Second Wind Productions, Salisbury United Reformed Church, United Kingdom

 

Prayers of Invocation & Gathering

Pastoral Prayers

Aboriginal art from Mary McCowan

A prayer arising from 1 King 19

God ever-new and ever-old,

Teach us to listen:

To listen with patience, when we want immediate answers;

To listen with openness to a new word, when we are more comfortable with the old;

To listen with deep respect to the roots of our faith, when we would prefer a new, flashy solution.

Teach us to hear your voice in stillness and silence, when we expect thunder and lightening,

To hear a renewed call to return, even when this means hard, incompatible work.

Teach us to listen, ultimately, with faithfulness, knowing that your voice can come in unexpected places, through unlikely people.

And, listening, give us courage to act.

Amen.

Merryl Blair is Senior Lecturer in Old Testament at Stirling Theological College, Mulgrave, Australia

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Our God

We pray for Empathy – seeking to understand:

ideas, people, situations, ourselves, our faith, our hopes,

seeking, exploring the why of life, the why of who we are.

seeking

because we know that only by seeking, do we go beyond ourselves, to where answers reside, answers that we had never considered.

And we are enriched, by becoming more whole.

We pray that we would be Vulnerable – open to being influenced

to new ideas, new possibilities.

Lives enriched with new experiences, horizons, things we thought not possible. Surprise us, our God

We know change causes us to be vulnerable;

as we become less capable of adapting, changes seem greater

as our limits become more apparent, our abilities seem in decline

simple things, small changes take on greater magnitude.

Keep ideas, possibilities, dreams, hopes, growing in and around us.

So that change is not an inhibitor, but stimulation into new life.

Cause our attitude to change to be invitational, not to create whirlwind in our lives, but measured growth

Keep us Curious about life, exploring and discovering, growing into understanding, more of the mystery of life as we walk with you author of life, and our guide.

As we seek these things for ourselves, we pray that they become realities for those around us.

Use us as channels of understanding, influence, curiosity, to help others grow. We take our part in your creation more fully when we offer ourselves to others and to you. Use us, we pray.

Place people in our path that will cause us to grow and whom we can help grow. The things we desire, we pray for those whom we find difficult to love, as well as those close to us.

Lord, lead us into wholeness, whatever that may be,

in Jesus name.

The writer, from Hartwell Church of Christ, Melbourne, Australia, references “The Congruent Life: Following the Inward Path to Fulfilling Work and Inspired Leadership” by C. Michael Thompson, (pages 180ff) as the inspiration behind this prayer.


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God
whose love
is vast and measureless,
wider than the universe,
unlimited and infinite:
In wonder
WE WORSHIP YOU.

God
whose love
will never run dry,
will never fall short,
will never fail:
In wonder
WE WORSHIP YOU.

God
whose love
knows nothing of our distinctions,
our notions of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’,
and which encompasses everyone:
In wonder
WE WORSHIP YOU.

We praise you that your love reaches us,
in our struggles and our joys,
in our hidden place of fear and shame,
in our sorrow and disappointment.
We praise you that in your love
you meet us as we are, where we are,
sweeping aside any sense of inadequacy,
overturning misplaced dependencies,
and opening a window of light and hope,
until we see in you our one true home.
We praise you that your love comes gently,
a warm scented breeze in the winter hurricane,
a creeping tide smoothing rough sand,
a depth of stillness to a heart in turmoil.

God
your love is beyond all we can tell,
yet we know that you are here with us,
and that you care for every detail of our lives.
We offer you hearts filled with gratitude.
In wonder
WE WORSHIP YOU.
Amen.

written for Sunday 31/01/16


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Our God,
Your living word is not static
but the unfolding story of your actions in the world

We pray that we would be part of that story
as recipients and participants

cutting across the addiction people have for the world
cultural addictions of greed, of status, appearance, recognition,
of voyeurism, celebrity worship, the need to know.

giving meaning to existence
giving meaning to work
giving meaning to leisure
giving meaning to contemplation
giving meaning to action

by recognising that all is part of your unfolding story

We know there is no single right way
We pray for the companionship of the Holy Spirit
Guiding us, leading us, standing back to let us fall

We know we will make mistakes
We pray the mistakes we make will be mistakes of generosity – of giving too much
As we endeavour to be Christ-like in our living and giving.
Risking comfort for the world’s sake.

We pray that we would be a people saying no to the power, violence, greed of the world

And instead, be active participants in healing the world
by doing what we can to enable all to contribute to society with dignity and honour.
Acknowledging, accepting and working with the diversity you have given us.
One, valuable person, at a time

We pray that we would be your faithful disciples
Bringing together whatever has been broken in your world
Living and loving as Jesus loved

in whose name we pray

The writer, from Hartwell Church of Christ, Melbourne, Australia, references “Becoming the Authentic Church” by Gordon Cosby, p38f as the inspiration behind the prayer.

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Our God,
The world is more magical, less predictable, more autonomous, less controllable, more varied, less simple, more infinite, less knowable, more wonderfully troubling than we could have imagined being able to tolerate when we were young.

More surprising,
able to operate without us
adaptive,
resistant
robust
fragile
complex
and into this environment, we are.

We live, we grow, we interact, we flounder, we survive, we cope, we struggle, we are.
We are yours.

We are yours, and we are not alone; as those with the capacity to love, we reflect your image to the world.

We bring our cares and concerns, our joys and sorrows, our celebrations and our doubts.
We give thanks for the things that have fitted in to the pattern of life we enjoy.

Lead us into the thanks and praise for the things that don’t fit our pattern but fit yours.

Guide our prayers away from the selfish things to the things that are of the Spirit.
Guide us to prayers that are generous, that are gifts, that are life-giving, that are humble and aware.

Lord, the world is more magical and mysterious than we can imagine, so we limit ourselves to our field of vision.
Enlarge our imaginations, roll back the limits to enable us to pray effectively.

We give thanks for your church community here in this place, where we can grow in faith in a loving environment. Bless your churches in this district and wherever you people meet.

For the places where you are not recognised, we pray that your Kingdom would come, and your will be done.

Bless our efforts to be your disciples, and bless us as we offer ourselves as gifts to the world.

The writer, from Hartwell Church of Christ, Melbourne, Australia, references the quote on page 25 of “Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr as the inspiration behind the prayer.

Prayers of Confession

Floor mosaic, Ephesus, Turkey
Floor mosaic, Ephesus, Turkey

Pause before the prayer, allowing God’s Spirit to search your heart.  Make your own confession.  Pause after the prayer to experience the reality of God’s forgiveness.

Why do I so readily settle for less, Spirit-giver?
Respectable religion
instead of living faith;
God-at-a-distance
instead of the searing closeness of your parenthood;
sameness
instead of the adventure of Spirit-life?

What is it I fear about you, Spirit?
What keeps my Scrooge-like heart shuttered to your Day?
Why do I so love shadows
when you offer me all the vibrancy of Light?
Why do I, a Child of the Sun,
choose to live as a creature of the Night?

You stand at the door.
I hear your knock.
Perhaps, if I keep silent,
you will think the house is empty
and leave.

Yet I long for your whirlwind presence,
the sweet-smelling air of heaven.
Do not go away, persistent Spirit.
Wherever you are going today;
wherever you are blowing –
take me with you!

Amen.

IMG_9452Pause before the prayer, allowing God’s Spirit to search your heart.  Make your own confession.  Pause after the prayer to experience the reality of God’s forgiveness.

The old ways are so comfortable, O God.
They fit like old slippers;
they feel like old friends.
I don them more readily than my resurrection clothes;
I live with the familiar more easily than your future.
I am better at being an adult in the old world
than a child of the New Creation.
How quick I am to forget the cost
of making all things new!
How blind I am to the need that you see,
how deaf to the groans you hear.
How cold my heart is to you and to my neighbour!
Open my eyes,
my ears,
my heart.
Let me live as your Spirit-child
in your New World
on this new day.
Amen.

 

Revelation 21: 1-5

… “See, I am making all things new.”

Romans 6: 1-4

…so we too might walk in newness of life.

2 Corinthians 5: 16-23

…everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Prayers of Intercession

Nepali prayer flags, Thandiwe Dale-Ferguson
Nepali prayer flags, Thandiwe Dale-Ferguson

Read the prayers aloud.  At each point, pause to reflect and fill in the names of places and people as appropriate.

Creator-Spirit,

Heartbeat of God’s love,
melt my coldness,
chase away the shadows,
captivate my heart,
until I am filled
with the same stubborn,
selfless
and self-giving Love
for the world that is your abiding Passion.

Fire of God’s justice,
kindle in me righteous wrath
and prophetic passion.
Help me to dig the wells of fairness
so that justice will flow like rivers
and righteousness like a never-failing stream.

Sharp blade of God’s Word,
cut through the thick skin of my resistance
until I see the world through your eyes;
hear its groans;
feel its pain;
ache for its despair.
Then open my mouth
so that I may proclaim the Good News
in words that cut to the heart
and bring New Life to birth.

Dove of God’s peace,
brood over the disorder of my life.
Grant me the peace of your presence
which is so much more than the absence of conflict.
At home,
at work,
in Church,
in the community,
in the world …
make me a peacemaker
and not a paperer of cracks.

Make my life count for you.
Let me make a difference for your sake.
May my life bring you joy today.

Amen.

global-ministries-logoA prayer each week highlights an area of our world in greatest need.    Click here to read and access these timely and relevant prayers written by staff and missionaries serving Global Ministres (a joint ministry of the United Church of Christ USA and the Christian Church – Disciples of Christ, USA).  A related photo and related lectionary reading are also posted.

An example:

Prayers for Kenya: 
Lord, have mercy on us. Help us stand together in the fight against violence. We are all Africans and we share the same destiny. As we approach elections next year, we pray for peace and love to one another. Destroy the sins of division and the hatred within us. Heal the wounded hearts and grant peace to our people.

redwood trees with green contrastRead the prayers aloud.  At each point, pause to reflect and fill in the names of places and people as appropriate. 
There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain,
for the old things have passed away.  God is making all things new.
I pray for those whose life is a living death
because of war, injustice, poverty, starvation, and despair.
God of Life,
make all things new.
I pray for those whose life is filled with sorrow, crying and pain
because of illness, unemployment, rejection, loneliness, and loss.
God of Comfort,
make all things new.
I pray for those who work to make things new:
ministers, church members, social workers, doctors, teachers, and governments.
Holy Spirit,
strengthen and renew them.
I offer myself to your work today.
Here I am, Lord –
send me.
Amen.

Revelation 21: 1-5

… “See, I am making all things new.”

Romans 6: 1-4

…so we too might walk in newness of life.

2 Corinthians 5: 16-23

…everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

imageGod of grace and compassion
Our hearts are full of gratitude as we think of the many blessings in our lives:
the gift of faith to believe in you,
the love of family and friends,
for shelter, clean water and plentiful food,
for access to education and health care,
for the freedom and speech and the freedom of movement.

As we turn our attention to the world, may we never lose sight of the fact that we are all connected – with those whose race, faith, political beliefs and gender persuasions are different from ours. The success and failure of others is our success and failure. The suffering and joy of others is our suffering and joy.

We understand that the privileges that we enjoy are your will for all people and we grieve for those who don’t share these basic human rights. Help us, as we struggle with the ever-present ambiguity of our faith, to see your compassion, and keep us aware of our responsibility to reach out in compassion to those whose lives are a constant struggle for survival.

IMG_9100Prayers for our world — inspired by Psalm 23 — Ana Gobledale, UK

Let us turn our mind and thoughts to others. We will lift up prayers for our world, our nation, our community and our church, responding with the phrase: Good Shepherd, Guide us in love.
Join me in prayer.

Good Shepherd, we hear the cries and joys of your people and lift them up to you. Receive our prayers for our world. We pray for:
[Invite people to say aloud, relating to our world, a name or issue on their heart.]
Good Shepherd, Guide us in love.

We hear the cries and joys of your people and lift them up to you. Receive our prayers for our nation. We pray for:
[Invite people to say aloud, relating to our our nation/country/geographic area, a name or issue on their heart.]
Good Shepherd, Guide us in love.

We hear the cries and joys of your people and lift them up to you. Receive our prayers for our community and our families. We pray for:
[Invite people to say aloud, relating to our community/area/families, a name or issue on their heart.]
Good Shepherd, Guide us in love.

We hear the cries and joys of your people and lift them up to you. Receive our prayers for our church. We pray for:
[Invite people to say aloud, relating to our church/ faith community, a name or issue on their heart.]
Good Shepherd, Guide us in love.

We hear the cries and joys of your people and lift them up to you. In the silence of this moment, receive the prayers of our hearts. [pause]
Good Shepherd, Guide us in love.

We hear the cries of your people, Eternal One. Show us how to be your hands, feet and voice in our world. Receive our prayers, spoken and unspoken, humbly lifted to you. Amen.

God, you are not distant from us
You came to us in vulnerability
You offered yourself as a gift of love.

IMG_9961We pray today for those who are in the midst of darkness
The darkness of poverty
The darkness of loneliness
The darkness of grief
The darkness of despair
Wherever shadows threaten to overwhelm
Wherever they erode dignity or crush the spirit,
Wherever they hold terror, or danger, or hopelessness

Come Lord Jesus, light of all people,
Shine in the darkness

We pray today for all victims and perpetrators of violence
For those whose bodies have been violated
For those whose bodies have been harmed or abused
For those who have lost sight of the holiness of the human body
And the value of human life

Come Lord Jesus, light of all people,
Shine in the darkness

We pray today for those whose bodies are ravaged by illness
For those who live with chronic pain, or fatigue, or disability
For those whose bodies draw unwanted attention or discrimination
For those whose bodies are changing, through puberty, pregnancy, menopause, surgery or disease
For those whose bodies are failing and nearing the end of life

Come Lord Jesus, light of all people,
Shine in the darkness

We pray today for our bodies
With all their aches and pains
With all their limitations
The secrets and memories they hold
The lines, scars and markings they bear
Their vulnerability, their woundedness

We bring our bodies to you, whatever state they are in
Help us to love, cherish and care for them.

Come Lord Jesus, God-made-flesh
Shine your healing light in our darkness
Amen.

Inspired by the prologue to John’s gospel

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So all of us can lift to God the joys and concerns of our members,
After thanksgivings: Leader: Loving God…People: We give you thanks.
After petitions and intercessions: Leader: Merciful God… People: Hear our prayer.

redwood trees with green contrast
Gracious God,
giver of peace, planter of justice, spirit of love,
we lift up to you our world –
giving thanks for its beauty and majesty,
for its many creatures and peoples,
for its bounty and flourishing.
In our thanksgiving, we also remember
those who struggle day in and day out simply to survive,
those caught in the midst of conflict and war,
those affected by natural disaster,
those who are displaced.
Continue with specific prayers of the day…

with the response
Water of life, renew the world and us.

Prayer items are listed before the prayer starts, bringing the news of God’s gathered people into the light, allowing time for surprise and concern in the hearts and minds of all. This family news is shared in three categories: “We celebrate…,” “”These people are in hospital…,” and “We are concerned about….”

Psalms – Old & New

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We call to mind your deeds, and remember your wonders of old.
We meditate on all your works, and muse on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who works wonders
You have displayed your might among the peoples.
When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you they were afraid, and the very deep, trembled.
The clouds poured out water, the skies thundered, your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind.
Your lightnings lit up the world.
The earth trembled and shook.

And you look out for each sparrow.

You know the heart of each of us.
You know our longings, our strengths and our deceits.
And your steadfast love for us endures.

We come to acknowledge you as our God, and to stand with you in the redemption of the world.
We bring our cares and concerns and ask for guidance to pray in spirit and truth.
Pour into us your Spirit.
Overlook our vanity and selfishness.
And help us to align with your purpose, seeking a better world.

Bless our efforts and our desires as we strive to improve this corner of your creation.

We give thanks for the rich, abundant life we have witnessed and experienced.
We give thanks for the peace that is possible in you.

Continue to be with us.
Continue to bless us,
we pray

The writer, from Hartwell Church of Christ, Melbourne, Australia, references Psalm 77 as the inspiration behind this prayer.

Prayer Resources on-line

IMG_9589Pilgrim Uniting Church in the City, Adelaide, Australia, has created an active website for worship planning “from a progressive perspective” focusing on readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. “This is a resource website for worship planning for Pilgrim United Church. In the main, it contains a compilation of resources from various sources, as well as resources written by Pilgrim worship planners.” Each week’s readings are prepared for a two-sided A5 handout. Numerous prayers and other items for use in worship are ready to hand. Extensive archives are listed by date and category — find the list in the righthand column.

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Prayers on every theme, for every occasion written over a 40 year ministry in the Uniting Church of Australia.

Rex Hunt’s Prayers

These sample prayers, written to be spoken, are logged in two groups: soft-theistic and non-theistic/post-theistic. They seek to be shaped by a progressive, post-liberal theology. When soft-theistic, they attempt to use new or different metaphors when addressing the presentness of the sacred. Lament rather than confession is also a feature of some.

Rex A E Hunt

New Kilpatrick Parish Church posts original liturgical works written by church members. They provide a plethora of gems ‘freshly written for each Sunday.’

New Kilpatrick original liturgy

New Kilpatrick Parish Church
Bearsden G61 3RT

Old Testament Inspired

autumn leaves on ground WinchesterOur God,
We come before you with minds, hearts and eyes open
To the many ways in which you reveal yourself to us:
In the colours of autumn,
In the challenges and possibilities of reading your Word together,
In the complexities of the very human lives
From which we have travelled to this place,
And into which we will re-immerse ourselves when we leave.

God of creation,
You invite us to wonder:
To use all our senses to see, touch, smell, hear, and think
As we continue the conversation between timeless truths and
The ever-changing demands of our lives.
In all of our engagement with you,
Keep us centred on the call
To see all of your creation as good;
To recognise every other person as made in your image;
To acknowledge our relationship with sky, earth, water, animals,
And to know you more and more fully
By looking closely, lovingly, at all of these.
Amen.

God of Covenant

imageGod, you have become known to us,
Not in abstract theologies,
But in action –
Specifically, the action of salvation.
We cried, you heard –
And our cries caused such an upheaval in you
that they could not be borne in silence and inaction.
You then became known to us
In the gift of torah:
Not a legal code meant to lock us unto airtight boxes,
But a sweet gift to give us the freedom to become,
Even as you allowed the world to become:
A creation that knew light from dark, day from night,
And could live in the harmony of the changing seasons.

We confess that we have, so often, forgotten the rhythms of that harmony,
Or have made harmony into dry rules and regulations
To sap life from people.

As we study your Story tonight,
Let us once again
Thrill to the cadences of freedom –
From slavery, from false expectations,
From rampant individualism
That has no concern for the beautiful creation of community.
Thank you for covenant, God of relationship.
Amen.