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Intercessions for 3rd Sunday before Advent Year C: 10 November 2013


The Collect

Almighty Father, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of all: govern the hearts and minds of those in authority, and bring the families of the nations, divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin, to be subject to his just and gentle rule; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Job 19.23-27a

‘O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book!  O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

Psalm 17.1-9

Hear my just cause, O Lord; consider my complaint; *listen to my prayer, which comes not from lying lips.
Let my vindication come forth from your presence; *let your eyes behold what is right.
Weigh my heart, examine me by night, *refine me, and you will find no impurity in me.
My mouth does not trespass for earthly rewards; *I have heeded the words of your lips.
My footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments; *my feet have not stumbled in your paths.
I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; *incline your ear to me, and listen to my words.
Show me your marvellous loving-kindness, *O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; *hide me under the shadow of your wings,
From the wicked who assault me, *from my enemies who surround me to take away my life.

Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2.1-5,13-17

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

Gospel Reading: Luke 20.27-38

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus, and asked him a question, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die any more, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.’


Prayers of Intercession

These prayers from last week are again suggested by Church House:

We pray for the coming of God’s kingdom.

You sent your Son to bring good news to the poor, sight to the blind, freedom to captives and salvation to your people: anoint us with your Spirit; rouse us to work in his name.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Send us to bring help to the poor and freedom to the oppressed.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Send us to tell the world the good news of your healing love.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Send us to those who mourn, to bring joy and gladness instead of grief.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Send us to proclaim that the time is here for you to save your people.
Father, by your Spirit bring in your kingdom.

Lord of the Church, hear our prayer, and make us one in mind and heart to serve you in Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the Church of England, the main service today will be in remembrance of those who have given their lives in the service of their country at war.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

 But it is also the third Sunday before Advent, and the readings today do resonate and to some extent overlap with our feelings about Remembrance Day. The intercessions are based on Jim Cotter and Paul Payton’s reflections on today’s psalm.


¶The Church of Christ

Lord, you know that our Church is riven with theological and ecclesiastical disagreement, beliefs honestly and sincerely held, but apparently irreconcilable.  You test us by fire, searching and probing our hearts and our motives in the dark of the night. We pray for judgment to come forth from you through your holy spirit, for your eyes to discern what is right and make your judgment known unto us. And then we ask, O Lord, for your strength to do your will.

Lord, take the sword from our hands and wield it with truth and with healing: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority

Lord, like the psalmist of old, we are angry at the ways of the brutal on earth. Afraid of their cruelty and greed, we tremble on the point of their swords. Yet the hammer of our words and our cries stays poised in the air, for we know the evil in our own hearts, the lying, the pride and the arrogance. Purge us of all self-righteousness and hatred. Even as we pray for your justice, that oppressors may triumph no more, so we pray for our deliverance too. Let justice roll down like waters, righteousness like an overflowing stream.

 Lord, take the sword from our hands and wield it with truth and with healing: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The local community

Lord, dependent as we are on your faithfulness, save us through judgment tempered with mercy. Protector of those who come to you for refuge, show us the wonders of your steadfast love. In all those difficulties we face as a community, where it seems we cannot make our collective voice heard by those in positions of power, help us to believe that victory is not always on the side of the big battalions, so long as the cause is just.

Lord, take the sword from our hands and wield it with truth and with healing: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶Those who suffer

Lord, when we face pain, whether physical or mental, hide us under the shadow of your wings. When we are afraid of what the future may bring, keep us as the apple of your eye. When we become engrossed in our own troubles, help us to lift up our eyes to the lives of our neighbours, and to offer them friendship, comfort and help in your name.

 Lord, take the sword from our hands and wield it with truth and with healing: in your mercy, hear our prayer

¶The communion of saints

Lord, keep alive in us the memory of those dear to us whom you have called to yourself. And grant that every remembrance which turns our hearts from things seen to things unseen may lead us always upwards to you, till we come to our eternal rest. For we know that our Redeemer lives, and lives for evermore.

Lord, take the sword from our hands and wield it with truth and with healing: in your mercy, hear our prayer

‘Reading The Psalms As Poetry’: Alexander Ryrie


An image of Psalm 23 (King James’ Version), frontispiece to the 1880 omnibus printing of The Sunday at Home via Wikimedia

Today’s reading is taken from ‘Deliver Us From Evil: Reading the Psalms as Poetry’ by Alexander Ryrie  published by Darton, Longman and Todd in 2005.

The Psalms as Poetry

The Psalms of the Old Testament have been a spiritual resource for people of different religious traditions for thousands of years. During this time, methods of interpreting them have kept changing…Although it has always been known that the Psalms were written in poetic form, their special character as poetry has in the past often been overlooked. They have been read, and sometimes printed in translation, as if they were simply prose….seeing them as poetry enables us to understand them in a fresh way and to find in them new, and perhaps deeper, forms of truth…Cecil Day Lewis speaks of a poetic truth which ‘is not, like a scientific truth, verifiable’, but which operates upon us to bring about a ‘furtherance of life…The truth is the passion’…

Poetry is not simply a matter of form. To qualify as poetry, a piece of writing must possess not only formal features but also certain qualities which it is less easy to define…These include…loftiness of thought, the expression of sentiments which are not trivial…mundane or banal, but serious, imaginative, potentially inspiring and above the level of our common thoughts. Along with this goes intensity of emotion…Both these qualities are found in large measure in the Psalms… But…there are two other distinctive qualities…which are important for the interpretation of the Psalms. One is a certain ambiguity of meaning which leaves words or phrases open to different interpretations…In these ways the psalmists…leave scope for readers to exercise their own imagination in interpreting it.

The other significant characteristic of the poetry of the Psalms is its use of imagery. The Psalms are particularly rich in…metaphors and similes, some of which have too often been understood in an excessively prosaic and literal fashion. Imagery is not simply a stylistic device, but a means of…pointing to deeper truths than can be stated in non-figurative language.

Addressing God

The very large majority of the psalms are addressed, in whole or in part, to God…the Psalms give powerful expression to a great variety of human feelings and thoughts, and so have provided a vehicle by which people throughout the ages have presented their own thoughts and needs to him. Whereas scripture as a whole is often thought to be a means by which God speaks to us, in the psalms it is human beings who speak to God. Thus, [they]…speak for us rather than to us…They give unique expression to some fundamental aspects of the human relationship with God which could not be expressed in any other way….What cannot be comprehended by human reason can in some measure by pictured by the imagination, described in images, understood by the heart and wrestled with in prayer.

Poetic Truth

Reading the psalms as poetic texts requires a more explicit acknowledgement than is sometimes made that one is offering a subjective interpretation, which brings together the words of the psalms and the viewpoint and life situation of the reader. There is no escape from this, and no apology for it is required….

A Mystery

Psalms use a great variety of images to point to evil as a suprahuman power, hostile towards God and humans, which, in spite of God’s victory and supreme power, continues to act with stealth and seduction to entice people into wicked deeds and thoughts, to separate the world and its people from God and draw them down to the realm of death and God-forsakenness. These images point beyond themselves to something transcendent, to a mystery which cannot be explained by processes of thought, or expounded in rational prose. Confronted by this mystery, the psalmists can do nothing but cry out to God to be present and deliver them. And perhaps it was the very vehemence and urgency of this cry that provides a clue to the question of the proper human response to evil, and to the nature of deliverance….

Securing God’s Protection

The concern of the psalmists, as of most of the other biblical writers, was ‘not to explain [evil] away but to call upon God to blast it away’. Evil was a mysterious, inexplicable and unavoidable reality, finding expression in many forms but describable only through image and myth. The only answer to evil was the presence of God, and the only way to be delivered from evil was to cry out to him, and to seek that presence with their whole heart….

The Individual and the Community

In addressing God in this way, [the psalmists] not only brought themselves into God’s presence, but also engaged with God in a relationship in which both individuals and members of the community could find their true selves as persons, and know themselves to be held and bound and kept by God.

Deliver 001I must apologise to the author of this book, Alexander Ryrie, for this rapid run through his fascinating book. The first extract above is to be found on the first page, and the last extract is on the last page. In between are 135 pages (followed by endnotes etc).  But my justification for doing this is to whet your appetite for a longer read, and to highlight some of Ryrie’s points.

Although I realise that this book was not written in any connection with those who offer public intercessions, I did find much to value in it in this context. To some extent, we are latter-day psalmists, as we pray on behalf of the community but speaking from our own perspective. This book also encourages me in my instinct that these prayers should be ‘not trivial…mundane or banal, but serious, imaginative, potentially inspiring and above the level of our common thoughts‘, as he says. Easy to say, possibly harder to achieve, but a goal to be aimed at nevertheless?

‘Spoken Worship’ by Gerard Kelly

Spoken Worship 001

Serendipity is a wonderful thing – a chain of events can lead to real insight. In this case, I saw a remark by Simon Sutcliffe on twitter, asked him to blog about it, which Rachel Parkinson commented on in an interesting way, so I asked her to blog as well; she referred to this book and made it sound interesting, I got a copy and I am captivated and given new nourishment for the journey. It was published in 2007, so you probably already have your own copies but if not I urge you to buy it. You can read a great deal of the book here and at £5.20 for the paperback  (£4.49 Kindle) it will not break the bank. The one review says it is aimed at Evangelicals but I am no Evangelical and I find it inspiring. Thank-you Rachel, for the signpost.


Spoken worship is about the power of the spoken word to illumine human experience in the place where it matters most: connection to our creator. For centuries Christian worshippers from formal hymn-singing traditionalists to chandelier-swinging charismatics have set words to music to enhance the worship experience. In gatherings large and small, in great halls and home groups, in the shower before breakfast and in the car on the way to work, we sing our praises to God. But in doing so, have we forgotten the power of words spoken.

…I have discovered that the spoken word has a power of a different order of magnitude from the power of a word set to music. I have found that there is a special additional something, a deepening of the impact, when words are spoken into the holy space that is worship…I believe there is vast potential for God’s people to rediscover the power of the spoken word as a vital element in worship… in essence, spoken worship is poetry written for the context of Christian worship. It is the writing whose ultimate goal is not so much literary as devotional, writing aimed unashamedly at provoking and prodding the human heart to wonder before its maker. Like many other forms of poetry, it is writing that has a life on the page but whose real life emerges only in performance: writing designed to be clothed in the human voice…

This is the calling, I believe, of the worship poet: to love words, and in words to carry love. Whatever else worship is, it is a language of the human heart. It speaks of deep longings, of love deeply felt, of ultimate concerns…It is poetry of the soul, reaching out to the soul’s greatest lover.

Performance Note on Pages 18-19

Worship is by definition a shared experience: it is the response of a community to God its creator. Even when she worships alone, the worshipper stands in radical solidarity with the family of God through space and time. She is, as Wordsworth noted, ‘never less alone than when alone’. Worship is not a private, obscure, barely intelligible transaction between a God lost in the clouds and a seeker lost in confusion; it is an expression born in belonging, a shared articulation of the human touching the divine. Spoken worship, then, cannot afford to be written in a private code: it does not dare to be obscure. It must, rather, touch the depth of the meaning of worship in such a way that those who hear it, or read it, or themselves speak it out, are drawn into the experience. It may be a secret garden into which the traveller has never before strayed, but it must be a garden whose blooms, once found, are recognised as such…

This does not mean that spoken worship must be bland – that it must speak in the language of a menu at McDonald’s. To be accessible and intelligible is not, by definition, to be shallow, and unless spoken worship is in some way deep – unless it goes somewhere that those engaging in it would not otherwise go – it has nothing to offer. It must live in the tension between obscurity and banality, between indecipherable depth and unpalatable shallowness…Its goal is resonance, that beautiful moment of connection when a worshipper can say, ‘I feel this too, I just didn’t know how to say it’.

…It follows, then, that the gift most essential to the creation of spoken worship is the gift of empathy, and time and energy invested in this gift will be richly rewarded when it comes to both the composition and the delivery of spoken worship. Without this gift, the most finely crafted piece will have no power; with it even a few stuttered and stumbling words can play their part. Before even putting pen to paper or stepping up to a mike, an indispensable principle must be embraced: learn to listen, and listen to learn. This is the craft of the worship poet. Spoken worship is a mirror held up to those who seek God. As well as polishing the words and their delivery, there is  much to be said for polishing the mirror.”


Gerard Kelly

Senior Pastor, Crossroads International Church, Amsterdam



Intercessions for 14th Sunday after Trinity 2012 (Year B): Generosity

Proverbs 22.1-2, 8-9, 22-23, Psalm 125, James 2.1-10, [11-13], 14-17, Mark 7.24-37 (Proper 18)

Some days you scan the lectionary, feeling like Mystic Meg with her crystal ball as you search for a common thread. This is not one of those days – the theme jumped off the page and hit me over the head with a mallet (I do like mixed metaphors, don’t you?)

Proverbs 22.22-23: ‘Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the Lord will plead their cause and despoil those who despoil them’

James 2.2-3: ‘Show no partiality…for if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing’…2.14 ‘What does it profit…if a man says he has faith but has not works?’ 2.17 ‘So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead’.

Mark 7.32-35: ‘They brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech…and, looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him Eph-phatha, that is ‘Be opened’.

To put it baldly, the message I take from these readings is that we should open up our minds, our lips, our hearts and finally our wallets to share God’s love and what we have, with all the generosity that we can muster.

So the recurring phrase, which I tack on to the front of ‘Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer’ might be ‘Freely have we received, freely may we give’.

At this point, I often check in one of the many books on the lectionary, primarily aimed at preachers, to see whether I seem to be on the right track. The one I tend to consult first is ‘The Ministry of the Word: A Handbook for Preachers on the Common Worship Lectionary‘ (published in 2000 – Amazon currently has second-hand ones at prices from £0.01 upwards!)

Today I did not find exactly what I was looking for from Chapman’s ‘Leading Intercessions’ or Adam’s ‘Traces of Glory’, though I chose one prayer from each. I am using instead ‘The Lion Prayer Collection’ compiled by Mary Batchelor.

Using the recommended sequence of prayers for the Church, the Nation, the local Community, the Sick and the Suffering, and the Bereaved and the Dead, I arrive at the following:


Lord, open our lives to your goodness.
Open our eyes to your presence.
Open our ears to your call.
Open our hearts to your love
Open our lips to your praises
And open us to your glory. (David Adam)

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 The Church

Grant to your whole Church grace to show true faith through works of love and mercy. Help us to strengthen the bonds of the Anglican Communion, with those that have sharing with those who have less, while bearing in mind that those who have more money are not necessarily those with greater grace. Take away all prejudice that causes unequal treatment, especially among the autistic and others that feel marginalised by the Church. (Chapman, slightly tweaked)

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Nation

God of the nations, all authority is yours. You touch the hearts of rich and poor alike. As the Paralympic Games end today, we ask you to keep in the minds of those in authority the courage and dignity of those who took part, and the stirring of the hearts of the spectators around the world. May the lessons learned live on as compassion is increased, and the good of all becomes our common aim.

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Community

Lord, teach us to be generous as you have been generous with us. Show us the truth of the saying: ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ . Help us to understand that others, perhaps unknown to us, depend on us for help. Remind us that our world, our parish, need “Good Samaritans” to heal the wounds of our community. In these times of economic hardship, we pray for the food banks that have sprung up – may they be perpetually replenished like the loaves and fishes. Lord, make us a gift to others in your name.

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Sick and the Suffering

Lord, who invited all who carry heavy burdens to come to you, refresh us with your presence and your power. Quiet our understandings and give ease to our hearts by bringing us close to things infinite and eternal. Open to us the mind of God so that through his light we may see light. And crown your choice of us to be your servants by making us springs of strength and joy to all whom we serve. (Evelyn Underhill, tweaked)

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Departed and the Dying

Lord, let us learn to be open to the night.

Let us pray with open hands, not with clenched fists. (Lord Dunsany)

Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with those who mourn, that casting their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love.

We remember before you the whole company of saints, and pray for our loved ones departed. (David Adam)

Freely have we received, freely may we give. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Advice on Leading Intercessions by Lay Anglicana


At long last, the page of advice on leading intercessions is up on the Lay Anglicana website here.

The following is an abbreviated version:


The most important, if most obvious, suggestion is that before you do anything else (consulting the lectionary, reading the readings and so on and so on) you take a moment on your own to pray.

Leading intercessions is the opposite of an ego trip – you are trying to voice the prayers of the congregation, not trot out your own favourites. At the same time, it is you leading the prayers, and you are also part of the congregation, so to that extent it cannot help but be personal. A balancing act.(LS)


I regularly lead intercessions, and when I first started, was provided with some guidance by our Vicar, who stressed that we are praying on behalf of the congregation, so what we say should be relevant to them, in words they understand.(SA)


The voice to use will vary according to the type of service – if you imagine the congregation praying as a person at the family communion service, the main communion service and a service –morning or evening prayer- from the Book of Common Prayer, they will all sound different. In general, the congregation at a BCP service attaches great importance to the form of the prayers and the beauty of the language; they will expect , not of course the language of 1662, but a certain formality. At the other extreme, the congregation for family communion will expect prayers that can readily be understood by an intelligent 8-10 year old. At the main communion service, people will expect a straightforward approach, with no thees or thous, and language that is transparent; they are primarily interested in the meaning.(LS)


I am told I have a talent for this task, and undertake it on a regular basis, not only in my own parish but at others in the benefice for occasional special services. I gather inspiration from the reading of the day, poetry, the prayers of others (the internet is a wonderful tool…) and my own thoughts. If there is a major national or international event, I include it, plus locals as needed or requested. I include a pause for people to think of their own concerns. But always my watchword is ‘simple.’ (SA)

I still find myself nervous on occasion, despite now two and a half years of leading regular intercessions. I actually think that nerves help, as long as they are controlled. They remind us that we are part of the congregation, given the privilege of leading prayer. (M/UKV)



Remember that most Anglican congregations contain theological understandings that stretch from neo-Zwinglian to pre Vatican2 Catholic, so try not to get up everyone’s nose by praying to/through the saints, for the dead (Thankfully remember is a nice compromise) etc unless you know that this will be the norm in that congregation.(DR)



It helps also when there are some regular intercessions that the parish always includes. My home parish always includes an intercession for those deployed overseas, for example. Having some standard intercessions can give your leaders a structure to start with and build on, and also gives your congregation something to expect. (HR)

If you are not used to extempore prayers, write the whole lot out in advance – you can always ad-lib if the Spirit moves you, (but see note on language!) (DR)

The confidence boost that having a book of prayers to hand – especially when starting out in the job – can never be overestimated. When I was first commissioned – after three years in college, on the rota for daily offices, College prayer groups, tutorial group prayers, parish based term time practicals and placements of two to three months duration AND a background of house groups where extempore prayer was the norm – I started by using prayers that I had collected from all sorts of places, written out & placed in a ring binder. I would arrange them in order before the service, interleafed with any specific topics to be prayed for. After a while, the ‘collected’ prayers were replaced by ones which I had written myself.
As well as boosting my confidence, this also avoided the ‘twenty minutes later & still at it’ syndrome.
In some respects the revisions from Series 2 onwards have imposed a similar, if somewhat low-fat, structure. (DR)

I think people who have not done intercessions before are often very worried about the prospect of ex tempore prayer which for many is a truly terrifying idea. Even if one’s particular congregation does not use ex tempore prayer for the intercessions (ours tend to be quite formal and although in modern language are usually written out beforehand), this may not always be at all evident to those listening; some people assume that intercessors need to be able to craft everything ‘on the hoof’ and may be surprised to find that’s not the case. They may also be unaware of the wealth of books and resources available to support intercessions. I think doing the intercessions is a far more daunting task in people’s perceptions than is often realised, because of the self exposure issue but also because of some popular misconceptions about how they are actually put together. (BC)



In the ‘Church Times’ of 10 December 2010, the Rt Revd David Wilbourne suggests that one 30-word verse of ‘The Golden Sequence‘ (attributed to Stephen Langton and translated by J M Neale) says all there is to say in praying for the world: the corrupt, the broken, the desolate, the pharisiac, the loveless and the lost are all addressed and met with hope…

What is soiled, make Thou pure;
What is wounded, work its cure;
What is parched, fructify;
What is rigid, gently bend;
What is frozen, warmly tend;
Strengthen what goes erringly.


The Episcopal Church (USA) offers the following guide regarding Intercessory prayer at celebrations of Eucharist(HG)

The Prayers of the People

Prayer is offered with intercession for:
The Universal Church, its members, and its mission
The Nation and all in authority
The welfare of the world
The concerns of the local community
Those who suffer and those in any trouble
The departed (with commemoration of a saint when appropriate)


I usually give them the “four point plan of prayer”. If they are the academic sort, I use the techie theologian words from the training course, otherwise it’s “Please, Thank You, Sorry, I Love You.” (KJ)

Those internet searches were probably me…. searching for a sensible prayer for the Communion of Saints that does not sound like a PS shoved on the end or praying for souls of the departed…(RD)

I’d emphasize “simple” for the content of the intercession because I suspect that many pick up the idea from clerics that they must be long and comprehensive and backed by a good deal of preparation. (One of our clerics does go on so that I’m sometimes tempted to shout something like “Oi, you’ve forgotten the indigenous people in Australia!” or “What abaht that lady murdered last week?”) (CFB)



Less is more & and for heaven’s sake stop praying for the clergy so often…
I hope I’m allowed to make a post even though I am ordained (I am a self-supporting worker-priest so maybe occupy some weird void, not fully welcome by the laos or the ‘professional’ ordained…). I despair of what often passes for public prayer, and very much share the view of the esteemed William Stringfellow. We produced some guidance, but I don’t think it is closely followed. And I wrote a short (and I hope humorous) piece begging for the clergy to be left off the list of people prayed for. (HV)

Where it is usual to pray for local, Diocesan, Provincial and Communion-wide groups, people, parishes and Dioceses, make these as succinct as possible – as Dave points out, God knows already, and many of the congregation probably aren’t interested! (NS)



The intercessions should never be longer than the Great Thanksgiving. (NS)

Some people tend to be long winded and can go on for ages, others are by nature brief and their prayers may be over in a very short time. I think general advice to keep it short may be wrong for some people. You need to know your trainees and be flexible. (AB)

If my intercessions run to more than a page of A4, (font size 12 pt) they are too long and I prune!(SA)



I would be clear in what you want the response to be and make it memorable or else the congregation spend time worrying about the response. (TH)
One of my pet (if minor) hates is “Today, the response to the intercessions is…”(KJ)

It’s even worse if followed by a very long litany of “things we’re asked to pray for” so that we’ve forgotten it by the time it comes round.(KJ)

“Lord, in your mercy” “hear our prayer” will do me every time. It allows me to concentrate on the prayers, rather than trying to remember an unusual phrase. (KJ)

Keith I totally agree. I spend so much effort and cerebral RAM trying to remember the response, that I don’t ‘hear’ the prayers, and forget the response anyway. It’s a real pain! (KL)



Do not be afraid to use a combination of ‘bidding’ and then a prayer from some collection such as Colquhoun’s Parish Prayers set of books (DR)

I’ve done the “preparation” lesson for new intercessors, and said that to them – even including the Frank Colqhoun series (plus a couple of others). (KJ)

I have yellowing and dog-eared copies of Frank Colquhoun’s ‘Parish Prayers’ series, which are particularly useful when part of a service from the Book of Common Prayer, as their formality suits the setting, and the index is good and easy to use.(LS)

Two books I like are Leading Common Worship Intercessions (Doug Chaplin) – this one’s particularly helpful for the chapter on ‘what NOT to do’ which contains illustrations of common pitfalls to avoid in preparing intercessions. Another is The Intercessions Handbook (John Pritchard)which has masses of worked examples for different situations and different types of services, from highly formal to very informal. Both of these are resources I have dug into for ideas at times and both would also be a good starting point for anyone new to this task. (BC)

Another book I use is Intercessions for Years A, B and C by Ian Black. Very practical and simple Intercessions which can be used stand-alone or with enhancements for specific seasonal services. I use these when taking Communion by Extension to Care Homes in my Parish, which is a privilege in itself, and deserves as much attention as any normal church service.(M/UKV)



Practice in the building before hand, especially if you will be using a PA system, and remember to breathe (passing out mid prayer can be so embarrassing) (DR)

On the practicalities of doing it in public, I suspect that what is really needed is for the tyro to be persuaded to stand up in an empty church and declaim to the walls while a couple of friends give encouragement and guidance on volume and pace to fill the nave and cope with the echo. (I remember a friend being told to slow right down and SHOUT!) Composition of prayers is secondary; important but secondary for the tyro. (CFB)

If it sounds like you are talking too slowly – you are probably about right; If it sounds like you are talking too loudly, you are probably about right. (DR)

Make your delivery straightforward and not “parsonical”. (TH)

Keep the pace steady. (TH)

We suggest you DO do the following

Be yourself. (TH)

When praying through specifics do enough research to get your facts right. (TH)

My main piece of advice is to be unafraid of silence. IME, it’s rare for the leader to leave enough silence and space in the prayers. Often, this role is seen as reading rather than leading, which makes a huge difference.(HR)


We urge you NOT TO DO the following


Remember that God knows the detail before you tell Him, so there is no need to break confidences during the intercessions, ‘We would just like to lift little Johnnie, whose mother has just run off with the milkman, into your loving care Oh Lord.’ (DR)

Little Johnnie may not have existed, but I have come across the practice, both in church and in house groups. (DR)



Pray for politicians/the government without giving them an ex-cathedra endorsement.(DR)

These are intercessions, NOT an essay for you to prove to God/the congregation/the vicar your knowledge of the minute detail of the crisis in capitalism or Balkan politics (DR)



Do not use the intercessions as a weapon or an extra preaching slot ‘Oh Lord – we would just like to pray for that group in the back row who talk through the prayer of consecration, that they may lean true religion …’ I have heard it done! (DR)

These are intercessions, NOT an essay for you to prove to God/the congregation/the vicar your theological understanding (DR)

Intercessions can be thematically related to the Gospel for the day, but remember there is only 1 sermon!(NS)



Don’t be afraid that you are too simple as sometimes that is what God is wanting someone to hear.(TH)



Avoid like the plague such phrases as ‘Oh Lord – I would just like to….’ or ‘I only want to …’ (DR)

I have the same cringe points – “Lord we just wanna…” and “Lord, you know that it’s the PCC meeting tomorrow…” (KJ)

I think the cringe points are likely to arise when people insist on doing the prayers extempore. In ordinary speech people use fillers like this, but they are really not appropriate here (IMHO of course!) (LS)



and of course IF we ask children/young people to lead prayers all of the above hopefully goes out of the window…. they just talk to God and don’t worry what people think!!!!! (MJ)



Lay Anglicana expresses its renewed thanks to all our contributors, who come from the four corners of the earth.

Sandra Apps, Brundish, Suffolk

Alan Barr

‘Horseman Bree’ New Brunswick, Canada

Belinda Copson

Rosemarie Derry

Charlie Farns-Barns, Hampshire

Harry Grace

Tim Hind

Keith Jillings

Mary Judkins

Kevin Lewis


Heather Rollins, Norfolk Virginia

Dave Rose CA
Diocesan Children & Children & Youth Officer

Neal Salan

Laura Sykes

Revd Hugh Valentine


Intercessions for 12th Sunday after Trinity 2012 (Year B): Put On The Armour of God (Series 1)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the blog post that remains consistently the one most read is the one I wrote on intercessions. And this is not because it contains anything particularly noteworthy, unfortunately, but because help with drafting intercessions is the most pressing need expressed by the laity of the Church of England.  For the last three days, Word Press shows me that someone has been looking for intercessions for Trinity+12 and Google has led them to this site. I feel bound to oblige, and in any case I too am responsible for intercessions this coming Sunday in my parish church. So I thought I would ‘show the workings’ as my maths teacher used to say.


After checking our own rota to see the readings, I go to Visual Liturgy to read all the texts for Sunday’s lectionary. The Old Testament reading is from 1 Kings 8.(1,6,10-11)22-30,41-43 and includes:

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! Have regard to your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; that your eyes may be open night and day towards this house, the place of which you said, “My name shall be there,” that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray towards this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling-place; heed and forgive.

At our service, we are instead having the Epistle:

Ephesians 6.10-20

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

The Gospel is John 6.56-69:

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’ He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’ Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

As a lay person, I immediately feel I can make more of the OT reading and the Epistle than I can of the Gospel. I don’t mean that I don’t derive personal benefit from the Gospel, simply that on this occasion it is difficult to translate this into intercessory prayer, whereas the OT and the Epistle are both about prayer and the Epistle has the appealing image of the Church Militant (When did you last sing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ in church?)


I take up my two main sources of help on intercessions: ‘Leading Intercessions, Years A, B & C‘ by Raymond Chapman and ‘Traces of Glory‘ by David Adam (this being Year B: there are companion volumes for Years A and C.  To find the twelfth Sunday after Trinity, it helps to know that it is also Proper 16 (but David Adam’s book allows you to find this by date also)

How gratifying! Both authors are full of metaphors about the armour of faith. Now all I have to do is to make a judicious mixture of each (the style of each is rather different, Raymond Chapman’s being more patrician, so you will need to adapt so that it feels and sounds as if you have written the prayers.


Lord, we ask you to protect the Church with the whole armour of faith and righteousness. Strong in the Spirit, may your people work powerfully for the coming of your Kingdom. Under the leadership of a new Archbishop of Canterbury, may all strands of the Church of England come together in unity to fight the good fight against the forces of division.

Let us be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power: Lord, in your mercy (hear our prayer).


Holy Lord,  Holy and Mighty God, all power, all might, all energy and all strength comes from you; equip us, we pray, to stand against the evils of our time. Give us the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit, the helmet of salvation, the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and protect us with the gospel of peace, that we may remain loyal to the end.

Lord, bring peace to the many places of strife in the world. We think particularly of Syria, but also all those places where struggles continue, but no longer fill the headlines, such as Central Africa. Turn the hearts of those who use the weapons of destruction and give them a truer vision. Bless all those who work for peace, including the forces in Afghanistan, and may their people learn the ways of peace.

Let us be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power: Lord, in your mercy (hear our prayer).


Grant to our families the security that can come only from faith. Bless us, our friends and neighbours, and be our sure defence against evil.  Pity and pardon those who have lost the faith which they once held. Come to them with the assurance that, though they have forsaken you, you will never forsake them, and will bring them home. We pray for those who are in sickness, especially……


Let us be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power: Lord, in your mercy (hear our prayer).



We rejoice with those who have triumphed, we join with all who have found their strength in you. We pray for those whom we love, now in your glorious kingdom, particularly today for…….

 Let us be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power: Lord, in your mercy (hear our prayer).

Merciful Fatheraccept these our prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.



The illustration was downloaded from Wikimedia under licence. “Anonymous, attributed to Athanasius: Detail of Blessed is the Host of the King of Heaven (alternatively known as Church Militant). Russian icon, ca. 1550 – 1560. Tretyakov Gallery”

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