One of the missing elements of modern worship is prayer, and especially prayers that are more than perfunctory. Especially lacking is the traditional pastoral prayer in which a pastor represents the congregation in praying for their needs and concerns. At Grace Fellowship Church we maintain this element and attempt to give it good effort. I’ve often gone looking for examples of pastoral prayers for purposes of inspiration and have found surprisingly few. I thought I might occasionally share one from my church, some of which will have been prayed by me and some by the other elders. I hope you find them in some way helpful. I prayed this during one of our November services.
Our gracious God and Father,
Thank you for the gift of prayer. It’s my prayer this morning that we as a church would believe in prayer. Not because it has any innate power, but because you’ve brought us into relationship with yourself and told us to pray. We acknowledge it’s not the act of prayer that does us any good but the object of our prayer. And we get to pray to you. We don’t pray to a cold and impersonal universe; We don’t plead the favor of petty little deities; we don’t try to arrange karma so it benefits us instead of harms us. We speak to a loving Father who created the universe and created us and began a relationship with us. You tell us that as our Father you love to hear from your children. You tell us you love to act on our prayers and act through our prayers.
So let us live as if prayer really matters. Let us worship as if prayer really matters. Let us not grow weary in this task. Let us believe that often the best thing we can do is not to act first, but pray first. Let prayer be our first instinct rather than our last resort. Let it be instrumental rather than supplemental to all we do and all we are. Let us be a praying church, first on Sunday as we gather together in corporate worship and then through the week as we gather in family worship and as we meet with friends and as we have times of personal devotion.
Please, Father, help us to pray. Help us make a priority of prayer and help us to see and celebrate answers to prayer. Give us confidence that our prayers matter not because we’ve found just the right formula and not because we’ve said just the right words, but because we know God and are known by God. Let us pray boldly, let us pray confidently, and let us pray constantly. Let us storm the gates of heaven through prayer. And let us pray until the day Christ returns. All the while let us be thankful for the precious gift you’ve given us in prayer.
Father, we want to offer you thanks for each person you’ve brought here this morning. We thank you that you continue to add to our number. I’m especially aware this week of those individuals and families who are new to Canada. We love to live in a city that has invited the world to join us. We love to see in this church such a sweet picture of what you’re accomplishing in this world by drawing people from all over the globe into your family. I pray that these people who are new to Canada would adjust well. I pray that they would come to love this country, and come to thrive here, and come to play a key role in your heavenly kingdom right here in their new nation. I pray that you would comfort them as most have left family and friends behind and I pray that their relationships with Christians here would be deep and meaningful. I pray that we, as their brothers and sisters, would welcome them in the name of our common Savior. And for them and others who are new to this church, I pray that they would join in to the life of this church, become members, and deploy their gifts and talents right here for the good of your people and the glory of your name.
Father, I thank you for this day and for the opportunity to worship you right here and right now. It’s my prayer that during this time we have together we would be able to set aside the concerns of daily life for a while, that we would be able to be fully present here and now in our minds and hearts. I pray that we’d be able to be still and know that you are God. We pray that you would equip Paul to preach the Word with power. We know that the power is not in him but in the Word. Preaching is only effective because the Word is effective. So let his words be consistent with your Word. Let his mouth speak what has come from your mouth. Let us be attentive and eager to hear, trusting that in preaching we are not just hearing the words of a man, but the truth of God. So I pray that we would set aside whatever distractions or concerns we’ve carried in here with us today, and let us listen and be changed. Let us be ever-more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
We pray all these things in his name. Amen.