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Leading Intercessions: Coming ‘Further Up And Further In’

For most of the congregation, a service of Christian worship can be as passive an experience as you wish: no one will stop you if you want to sit at the back of the nave and watch the elements of the service unfold as if at the theatre. Most of us have felt at one time or another that this is all we want or are able to contribute. However, the hope is that you will eventually want to play a more active part. Some people are willing to do anything that does not involve ‘performing’ in public and, as we have explored in previous posts, may be coaxed into, say, reading the lesson. But others may be ready to come further up and further in by, for example, leading intercessions.


One reason for the widespread reluctance to lead intercessions may be the lack of training generally available – with its concomitant risk of falling flat on one’s face. Anecdotes abound – in my own case, I was asked by the ‘Revd Laissez Faire’  to lead the prayers of the people at Matins. When I asked for advice, he told me to ‘ask Deirdre’, an old hand with whom I would be alternating. She told me to cut down on the prayers for the royal family – for example, unless Mrs ‘Loyally Royal’  happened to be in church that morning, I need only offer the prayer for the Queen, which I could bring to a halt about half way through at walk in thy way. There was no need to go on to pray that Her Majesty might be endued with heavenly gifts, health, wealth, strength or everlasting joy and felicity. Though I thought this injunction overly Cromwellian, I did as I was told. A few days later  the Revd Laissez Faire rang me in I thought somewhat unholy glee to say that there had been a complaint about ‘my’ prayers at the PCC meeting for being too hidebound: in future I should model myself on the forms of intercessions used at the other (non-BCP) services. Though he made it sound so, I knew that it was not really my fault: a change of intercessor had simply made people realise that they wanted to move on.

I tried the Church of England website. Even today, though it contains some topical prayers which may be usefully incorporated, it takes a protracted treasure hunt to find any help for the stage before that: what should we pray about, how long for and any prescribed order.The following is offered under Notes:

Intercessions: These should normally be broadly based, expressing a concern for the whole of God’s world and the ministry of the whole Church. Nevertheless, where occasion demands, they may be focused on more particular and local needs. Where another service follows immediately, they may be brief.

Feeling as if I had sought for bread and been offered only stones, I set off for the cathedral bookshop where I found half a dozen books which seemed to deal with the subject.  I read them in mounting despair: although they did offer some general help which was useful, most of the ideas offered seemed outlandish in the context of a small rural parish church with an extremely conservative congregation.  There is a self-help website set up in March 2011 by Hilary Murray, who says: ‘When trying to write some intercessions for a local church service, I was astounded by the lack of help and inspiration found on the internet. I decided that something had to be done’.

Actually, it turns out that there is, after all, balm in Gilead, but it took me many years and the fortuitous purchase of ‘New Patterns for Worship‘ to find it. The patterns followed by four different sorts of churches are described: St Ann’s, St Bartholomew’s, St Christopher’s and (immediately recognisable!) St Dodo’s:

At St Dodo’s, the person leading the intercessions says ‘Let us pray’, but hasn’t found the right text, so we hear the pages of ‘New Patterns for Worship’ turning during the ensuing silence. He begins the responsive intercession for Creation, which unfortunately fits neither the readings nor the mood of the congregation. He forgets to rehearse the response at the start and so has to stop at the first break and say ‘When I say … you should say …’ in a voice which implies that the congregation should have known this all along. He keeps switching between addressing God and addressing the congregation throughout the prayers: ‘We really ought to pray for Ann (‘Who is she?’ half the congregation wonder) especially today because …’ – and more of his views of the circumstances of members of the community follow.

This post is by way of an introduction: next time I will offer some practical advice distilled from an increasingly large library and ten years of experience. This is certainly above the pay grade of a humble lay worship leader and with any luck will attract flak from all sides. We can then try and move to a form of advice acceptable to the Church in general (thesis, antithesis, synthesis anyone?) Of course, it would be even more welcome if you short-circuited this process by offering your advice right now, which we can then incorporate…



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The illustration is ‘Link for All’ in the metaphor series by Slavoljub Pantelic, via Shutterstock

46 comments on this post:

UKViewer said...


When I was first asked to join the rota to Lead Intercessions, I was horrified to find that no training is available, apart from ‘On the Job Learning’, which I thought to be quite unprofessional (describes much of the CofE, bumble along and hope that it all goes well).

But, I sought help from some books and found ‘The Intercessions Handbook’ by John Pritchard (and a follow up one) and ‘Intercessions for Years A, B and C’ by Ian Black very helpful.

In particular, John Pritchard writes in a way that is accessible and he gives some pretty good guidance on how to prepare. So, of I went seeking inspiration and found some good websites which were helpful, across a range of Christian Denominations, here and abroad. I’m not to proud to know that we can’t always be original, but others words can both inspire us to build on them or to adapt them for use.

I do intercessions at two churches within the Benefice an on odd occasions, such as mid-week communion. So, knowing consulting the readings for the day is important, as is actually being abreast of what’s going on in the world and locally. Your prayers need to be both topical and relevant to those who you are leading in prayer.

After two years, we got our wonderful curate, who in the past year has run three actual, physical training sessions of half a day in parish for both experienced and aspiring intercessors. This was her initiative, but spurred on by our begging for some way of ensuring that this essential ministry role was actually meeting the needs of the worship and our congregations.

When I started, I sent my draft to the Vicar for his comments, and fortunately, he only gave me some guidance on appropriate pauses during the intercessions, and suggestions of perhaps an additional prayer at the end.

This was affirming in many ways, particularly when he said, OK, now, just get on with it. You ‘Get it’.

It has also been affirming when individual members of the congregation or a visiting priest has taken me to one side to say thank you for the prayers, particularly if one had remained with or had really hit the mark for them on a particular occasion.

Very much like other ministry roles, it’s about placing God central and ignoring self. That works when you get it right. Occasionally, even now I get nervous, but have learned to trust in God, take a deep breath and get on with it.

It’s a privilege to lead prayers and one that requires the utmost concentration and care to help the worship be an uplifting and memorable experience for all.

28 August 2011 16:19
Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you UKViewer – as usual you are spot on.

But I’m afraid I didn’t find the two John Pritchard intercessions handbooks as useful as you did. It’s clear from his page on the Oxford diocesan website (he is of course Bishop of Oxford) that he is an unconventional churchman, and his suggestions for intercessions are too far-out to be useful in our particular church. But some of the introductory advice was more useful to me.
The book of prayers which I like best is Angela Ashwin’s ‘Book of a Thousand Prayers’ and the most useful ready-made intercessions for me are in Raymond Chapman’s ‘Leading Intercessions, Years A,B,and C’. But I don’t think it is a question of who has the best list. I was thinking we might try and come up with a star rating for different categories, eg good for evangelicals/Anglo-Catholics etc etc!

Sue Faillettaz said...

Sorry to disagree, John Pritchard does say ‘don’t use these intercessions’ ! I have, on occasions, found his books very useful for specific Sundays. With his comment in mind, they force one to dig deep into one’s own heart with one’s congregation in mind.

Lay Anglicana said...

I think, on reflection, I may have been too hard on the Right Reverend gentleman! His was the first book I read on intercessions and I became exasperated at his more outlandish suggestions when what I was looking for was some help in composing intercessions for morning service in a very traditional 12th century Hampshire church, with a very traditional and somewhat antiquated congregation in an extremely conservative community. He is probably the best known writer on intercessions, but I think his material is more suitable for people who already have some experience. I have found some useful prayers from him recently, now that I find it easier to be selective!

18 February 2013 14:55
17 February 2013 12:23
28 August 2011 16:46

The old ASB format works very well for the Eucharist – The World, the Church, the Community, the Sick, and the Dead.

I always pray for “Elizabeth, our Queen and Governor”, because the old girl takes her responsibilities towards the church of England very seriously, then go on to the archbishop and the diocesan.

The advice we were given at Lincoln Theological College long ago was good – it doesn’t matter how dangerously radical your prayers are, it matters that they are addressed to God. We are interceding, which means we are seeking God’s loving-kindness for the church, the world, and our brothers and sisters “in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity” (BCP, original and best!). Of course, God needs no reminding of the cares and woes of his creatures, but in reciting names we are reminding ourselves and one another. There is no need to go into them at length, and if you feel a great need to expound on them, ask the vicar for a chance to preach some time.

The prayers for the world can become a guideless Cook’s Tour without a little restraint – I invite people to call to mind those whose predicament has touched our hearts or imagination.

Prayers for the dead are tricky in some churches – “We pray with thanksgiving for the lives of …” gets round this.

Every church and chapel I have served in appreciates a few moments of silence. It should be just long enough to make you wonder whether it is too long. Shorter if there is a lot of other noise – children, knitting needles, traffic, snoring, that sort of thing.

If you want to use a responsory refrain, rehearse it right at the start before you begin in earnest, but remember that people’s memories are very short, so keep it short to fit them.

Do not be political. If someone argues with your prayers in the church porch, you have almost certainly failed in your duty of service. But it is good to remember the bad guys alongside the good guys, the losers alongside the winners. This is part of Jesus’s teaching that we must pray for our enemies, as any jackass can pray for his friends.

If you’re not sure, walk around the room for a moment, or discuss it with your cat, then come back to your desk and go where your heart leads you. A sincere heart cannot pray badly.

Lay Anglicana said...

I do appreciate your taking the time to offer these golden nuggets of advice. I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised that it takes someone with priestly training to be able to communicate the essence of intercessions, but there is a lot of very useful thought -and experience- behind what you say. (I suppose you don’t feel another book coming on?)

I will certainly incorporate these points in ‘Lay Anglicana Advice on How to Intercede’.

Arising from what you say, I think we must have a chapter/page on what NOT to do as well!

30 August 2011 09:28
28 August 2011 21:56
UKViewer said...

Laura, I use the Ian Black volume more readily these days. I’m sure that there are loads of books out there, our Reader owns about 10. She hand writes her intercessions into a note book, and she told me that she had about 40 complete note books at home. Some to refer back to, but most of which mark her ministry as a Reader over 40 years or so.

She is the widow of a Vicar who died young in his thirties, leaving her with 4 young children. She retrained as a Teacher, brought up her children, two of whom are now serving clergy.

She has mentored my in ministry, and remains active at age 76. And remains an inspiration, all though, now she has slowed down and is bringing on some others who are offering for Reader or Lay Worship Leader roles.

29 August 2011 06:31
Lay Anglicana said...

I think it is a good idea to keep copies of the intercessions, which is easy to do if you work on a computer as I do. I label them ‘Year A 12th Sunday after Trinity’ etc (none of that ‘Proper’ business) so I do check what I said before. But of course, much also depends on the type of service and what Harold Macmillan called ‘Events, dear boy, events’.

alastair said...

Just a note with labelling – if you are trying to fit Intercessions with readings, which can be helpful, but is sometimes distracting, then the Sundays after Trinity won’t line up the next time you use them (I labelled my sermons like that when I started as a Curate, then found three years later I was scrambling around to find the correct week for the readings so I didn’t say the same things again)

30 August 2011 09:05
29 August 2011 08:55


Years ago I did the intercessions fairly frequently in my home church. Now as an assistant priest in a different parish we have a rota….so the only time I’m called on to do it is when someone is missing.
The main problem for me is the length of time taken by some people. One man here goes on for 20 minutes which is ten minutes longer than my sermon!. I try to get myself comfortable at the beginning!
It really shouldn’t be necessary to cover everything at great length I think and the long lists of the sick can get boring which is not the aim of the prayers at all..
The main reason to intercede on behalf of people or global situations every week is to direct the congregation into the much needed prayers that come from the heart. If the congregation has switched off mentally they are not going to do much praying!
Intercessions shouldn’t be intended to impress..they should be direct appeals to people for prayers.
I have in the past used various books to help with this but I know in my heart that I touch people best when the prayers are not prepared and given with sincerity and love.
As on Twitter, brevity is definitely a virtue!

29 August 2011 10:15
Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you very much indeed for commenting: I think the collective wisdom of bloggers and twitterati should make a very good handbook of how to go about the business of intercessions.

I always rather wonder what ‘deceptively’ means in estate agent language (does ‘deceptively spacious’ mean it is smaller or bigger than it looks?) but I do think that leading intercessions is ‘deceptively simple’ if that means ‘not as simple as you might think’.

Prayers that come from the heart…with brevity: Yes!

29 August 2011 10:33
UKViewer said...

I notice that the Diocese of Bath and Wells offers training in Leading Intercessions.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you for the link – this seems to be a 2-hour course (one hour a week in 2 weeks). The topics covered look good, though I still think this is on the short side. They also do occasional whole day courses in Winchester Diocese, one of which I attended. Obviously, there are not the resources to offer these to everyone. It was useful, and the course organiser kindly made his notes available to us in electronic form afterwards. Unfortunately, he was unwilling to allow these to be used on the web because he said he had got ideas from various sources, some of which would be copyright and not his to authorise. It was a Catch-22 situation – I could not use his material and attribute it to him, but he was also unwilling for me to use the material without attributing it to him. I understand his reasons, but it was very frustrating!

29 August 2011 18:03
29 August 2011 16:03
Rachel Firth said...

I’ve had particular issues with intercessors not always appreciating that reading out a long list of the names of sick people can be negative in many ways. It can leave you feeling that that is all that the community’s prayers are about. Some people want to be prayed for in the private devotions of the clergy or in daily office but are mortified to be prayed for aloud before the whole community. Intercessions are an opportunity to relate the thing you were worried about when you arrived at church this morning (be this personal, local community issues or problems in the wider world) to the Good News you have come to hear. It’s a potential bridging moment. We hear the word, we hear the word expounded in the sermon, and we then lay the challenges and concerns we have before God in this context. Couldn’t agree more that time and training should be given to anyone leading public prayer.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you, Rachel. I so agree with you about the long lists of the sick being read out. Unfortunately, this is the custom in the church that I have moved to and I will shortly be doing intercessions here. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place in that the congregation are used to the list, so if I don’t include it they will think I am being difficult…

Thank-you for the concept of ‘the bridging moment’, which I had not thought of before.

29 August 2011 18:07
29 August 2011 16:11
UKViewer said...

Just another resource, a little amusing in some ways but also serious in its own right. Over at Presentation Ministries:


Lay Anglicana said...

I love this, especially the bit about expecting spiritual warfare!

Just to quote the headline commandments (there is more about each if you follow UKViewer’s link):

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength”
Thou shalt have God choose each member of an intercessory prayer group.
Thou shalt not intercede without first hearing God.
Thou shalt be as specific as possible.
Thou shalt have expectant faith.
Thou shalt love thy enemies.
Thou shalt expect spiritual warfare.
Thou shalt commit thyself to intercede for a set period of time.
Thou shalt change thy life-style.
Thou shalt not be too rigid about some of these guidelines.

29 August 2011 18:10
29 August 2011 16:30
UKViewer said...

Just coming back to the list of sick etc. In our church we’re encouraged to just pray specifically for one or two of those named on the pew sheet. Allowing the congregation time and silence to pray for the remainder or for those known to them, but who do not wish to be prayed for in public worship.

I tend to go for those generic, all of those, sick in body, mind or spirit than giving the pause.

Brevity and relevance being the key words, allowing the congregation the space to pray through the prayers themselves.

Lay Anglicana said...

If possible (and I give a reason above why it is not always possible) I definitely prefer the generic. Actually, being the old-fashioned sort I agree with Richard:
“’in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity’ (BCP, original and best!)”
If you say this really slowly, it allows the congregation as you say ‘the space to pray through the prayers themselves’.

30 August 2011 09:21
30 August 2011 05:22
alastair said...

I think the advice to aim the intercessions towards God is one that most need to hear – it sometimes feels that those leading intercessions are preaching a second sermon. But when praying we don’t need to tell God what to do, obviously she has some idea about that, but offering our concerns to God – in the same way that when we share our concerns with a parent or a partner it is not always for the sake of getting them to do thing, but to know what is on our mind and what we are feeling. That’s not to say God won’t act! But I think Churches spend quite a lot of time trying to organise God’s schedule….

Lay Anglicana said...

“Churches spend quite a lot of time trying to organise God’s schedule…”
I think you may have a point there!

Seriously, I think the point you are making is very important and not one that is often made to new intercessors. As Ernie said above, learning is usually ‘on the job’ and done by copying what the other intercessors in any particular church are already doing. The problem with this is that small errors which creep in gradually get magnified (rather like genes copying faulty DNA!)

I am very grateful to you for taking the time to help.

30 August 2011 09:16
30 August 2011 09:09
seheard said...

I too instinctively use the ASB pattern when interceding at mass (Church, world, community/family, sick, departed) and we commend this general structure to those on our Sunday rota. Some of them like the Susan Sayers texts (available in 3 volumes, one for each year of the cycle) but I find these a bit wordy and “conceptual”. If using a book, I prefer those red and blue slim hardbacks called I think “Leading Intercessions” whose biddings are neat, economical and related either to the Gospel, or to all the readings. Keeping them short is key, as far as I am concerned.

Lay Anglicana said...

I know of one parish where the vicar recommends that the intercessor simply read out Susan Sayers’ prescribed text for the day. I imagine the thought behind this is that it cannot go very far wrong, but the disadvantage as I see it is that leading intercessions should be an opportunity for spiritual growth (and perhaps the first step to becoming a Reader, or even a priest) so it is a pity to simply hand a text to the intercessor.
I think the ‘Leading Intercessions’ series you refer to may be the ones I use by Raymond Chapman? I find these useful, but usually tweak them so that they sound natural to me. I would normally do this, unless the prayers are well-known.

Thank-you again, Simon, for taking the time and trouble to comment. I am glad you also vote in favour of brevity!

30 August 2011 10:12
30 August 2011 09:24
Revsimmy said...

Another disadvantage of simply reading a set text, whether Susan Sayers or BCP (or anything else) is that the intercessions are then generic, unrooted in any specific place or time (or perhaps in a different place or time). On those occasions when I use the BCP prayer for the Church Militant I am struck by the anachronism of prayers written in a completely different era and in a different political and cultural milieu – why do we only pray for Christian Kings, Princes and Governors? What about Muslim, Hindu, atheist presidents and prime ministers? (and so on…) What about other Christian denominations? By all means use Susan Sayers or John Pritchard or Ian Black or anyone else, but make sure it is ground here and now and reflects the concerns that people may bring with them TODAY.

BTW I have found Christine Odell’s prayers in “Companion to the Revised Common Lectionary, Vol. 1: Intercessions” (Epworth Press, 1998) very useful. Very occasionally the RCL (used by the Methodists in this instance) differs from the CW lectionary, but most of the time the prayers tie in superbly with the Gospel reading for the day.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you very much, RevSimmy: ‘ground here and now and reflects the concerns that people may bring with them TODAY’ is I think central (and not always apparently uppermost in the mind of the intercessor).

Thank-you also for the recommendation of Christine Odell’s book, which is new to me, and we will include it in the bibliography.

A completely different subject, but baffling to the unitiated is why the ‘Revised Common Lectionary’ seems not after all to be Common!

30 August 2011 12:54
30 August 2011 12:37
Lou Henderson said...

Some random thoughts from a reasonably frequent intercession leader:
Never patronise your Creator!
Tailor to service/congregation. (8 am BCP Communion? Or liturgy-free all-age chorus-fest?)
Pick up theme of sermon. Check in advance with preacher, and also be ready to adapt prayers as you listen to sermon. (And type prayers with double or 1.5 spacing to allow for amendments/insertions.)
Health can be tricky – don’t pray publicly for Gladys’s recovery from her hysterectomy without checking she’s happy for the whole congregation to know she’s had one. And potentially risible when unthinkingly formulaic: ‘We lift Gladys’s varicose veins to the Lord’.
When blending others’ prayers to fit local needs, edit the result with care. No ‘Dear Lord Jesus, we pray for . . . And we ask this in your Son’s name.’
Eschew cliché; ensure images are fresh – striking, but not outlandish.
Check the latest news on-line before leaving for church: it was clear from conversations around me when I arrived at my own church on 1 September 1997 that something momentous had happened overnight – but I really had no idea that Princess Diana had been killed. (Thankfully, I was NOT leading our intercessions…)

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you, there is a lot of useful advice here. Something that particularly resonated with me – ‘check in advance with the preacher’.
She was very forgiving about it, but I well remember looking at the readings for the day and basing my prayers on what I thought was the fairly obvious theme, only to discover that the preacher had seen something entirely different! She said it didn’t matter my bringing out another aspect, but I agree with you that it is preferable to speak with one voice.

I think the death of the the Princess of Wales is such a good example of the need to listen to the news before leaving your house because it makes the point so vividly. Who says news doesn’t happen on a Sunday!

I do appreciate your taking the time to give us this.

30 August 2011 16:22
30 August 2011 14:05

Sometimes the American Anglican tradition of letting people say aloud the names of those they are praying for can work pretty well. It can take English congregations a while to learn it, but by saying names out loud they can sometimes realise for the first time who is really on their hearts. It becomes a holy mumble, but I see nothing wrong in that.

I’m not a great fan of training – all soon forgotten, in my experience – but intelligent and thoughtful feedback is worth its weight in Seraphim.

In a little pamphlet for the Diocese of Southwark, Jeffrey John said that intercessions should last no longer than four minutes. A tall order. Or perhaps a short one!

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you again, Richard.
I rather like the idea of people saying out loud (simultaneously, presumably) the names of the people they are praying for. It would obviously have to be introduced by a priest, though, with lay people following suit at succeeding services.

Unfortunately things that are worth their weight in Seraphim may not be very easily obtained, but I agree that feedback from the congregation (and indeed the priest) is more likely to stick than training.

I wonder whether Jeffrey John was hoping for five minutes, which he thought he was more likely to get if he limited it to four? – no bad thing to give a limit, I think. I do it by typing on one side of A4 with generous margins and extra spacing – that way you can’t go overboard. (But, until now, I have never named the sick, which is the one addition that really stretches it out).

UKViewer said...

Laura, One church that I attend, does actually invite us to say aloud the names of individuals they are seeking prayers for. It’s in the Evangelical Tradition, and does many things differently.

But, I’ve found it to be useful and have used it myself during intercessions in mid-week Communion as a trial, and the Vicar and Curate than took it on themselves.

People are open and accepting of this sort of idea, particularly if they have the time and space to basically, think aloud and ask others to share their prayers.

Lay Anglicana said...

I think it would work very well at a mid-week communion, where you presumably just have a handful of people – at least if you were going to introduce it eventually at all services, that must be the best place to start.
Thank-you for passing this on.

30 August 2011 20:50
30 August 2011 19:50
30 August 2011 16:35
30 August 2011 15:11
Lay Anglicana said...

I have taken the liberty of transferring some advice from Twitter by the Revd Diane Clutterbuck. (She is a Methodist minister who works as a coach, supervisor and trainer and tweets as @RevDSCbelfast)
Do give space for God to speak
Don’t give inappropriate details about people u pray for in public. A given name is enough
Do go at a steady pace and use silence well – not just a few seconds
Don’t tell God what’s happening she knows
Do use beautiful, poetic language when you can
Do set prayers in a world context

30 August 2011 16:59
john scott said...

Did anyone mention Nick Fawcett’s ‘Prayers for All Seasons , Books 1 and 2. The Introduction gives sound advice. The prayers are set out in two parts Seasonal and Situational. They are well written, though sometimes a bit ‘wordy’, and easily adapted. Book 2 remains my favourite resource when stuck (and we all get stuck!).
Alas the dog ate the first 25 pages and my Advent prayers are always a let down!

My only advice is gather a few resources (including BCP and Common Worship!) so you can see a range of styles and decided which ones you like. You might even be adventurous and try adapting prayers from other faiths and traditions. It is not about ‘YOU’ but it is YOU who has been asked to lead the intercessions and YOU will be comfortable using a style of prayer that YOU like. Be yourself, no funny posh or ‘holier than thou’ reading voices! Try and allow a reasonable period of silence with each intercession. Not that God needs the time to hear but if your intercessions are on the mark they will spur thoughts in others, allow them time to have those thoughts.

Finally, Laura, I would advise you use Propers and not The Nth After Trinity in your filing system. It is the Propers that give the correct readings for the Sunday and it can be wonderful when the readings, the sermon, the intercessions, and even the hymns are complementary.

Lord hear us

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you very much John.
No one has yet mentioned Nick Fawcett’s books, but we will add them to the bibliography with your recommendation.

Several people have talked about the need for silence but I particularly like your:
‘Not that God needs the time to hear but if your intercessions are on the mark they will spur thoughts in others, allow them time to have those thoughts.’

Finally, a ‘cri de coeur’ about Propers. Alastair said the same as you (“the Sundays after Trinity won’t line up the next time you use them – I labelled my sermons like that when I started as a Curate, then found three years later I was scrambling around to find the correct week for the readings so I didn’t say the same things again”). I dare say I am being very thick (don’t all shout at once!) but I don’t understand this. I actually find out which Sunday it is from Visual Liturgy, which gives both, as well as the readings, so that is an easy short cut. The Susan Sayers book makes me want to tear my hair out as she talks about ‘the 32nd Sunday of the Year’, without giving the readings, so there is no way of checking whether you have found the right Sunday (and for those of you who drily suggest using a calendar, may I point out that there are only 33 Sundays in her year!)

john scott said...

The best way to be taught the Lectionary is over a stiff GnT, come for a drinkl sometime soon and I will explain it. Give me a call.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you very much, I will take you up on that offer!

30 August 2011 22:49
30 August 2011 22:27
30 August 2011 17:27
30 August 2011 16:59
Lay Anglicana said...

Extracted from Facebook:

Peter Ould DO : Just pray
DON’T : Tell us all the things you were thinking about when you write the prayers

Laura Sykes Very pithy, Peter ! But also important…

Peter Ould Gosh, if I had a pound for everytime I’ve sat there thinking “We don’t need to know this, just pray”, I’d be considerably richer then I am at present

Laura Sykes I think the problem may arise because people think they can do extempore prayer. It is NOT easy to do well, just because you fancy yourself as an after-dinner speaker (maybe you are actually the pub bore?!)

Wendy Dackson I sometimes wonder if there isn’t a sort of ‘holy competition’ when it comes to extempore prayer. ‘The longer I go on and the more detail I give, the better than the next guy who just says please pray for Dilbert…’ God knows the what, most of us only really need the who.

Richard Haggis Like almost all ad libs, they need careful rehearsal

Laura Sykes Thank-you Wendy and Richard – both very good points

Belinda Copson DO: ask people’s permission before including them in the sick/pray for list
DON’T: include people by name on the intercessions list without first getting their permission. Otherwise it’s a major breach of confidence….

Laura Sykes ‎Belinda, this is a very important point. I suspect this happens more often than one would think!

Belinda Copson
DO: prepare properly. Lots of people think they can do extempore prayer well. Few can.
DO: make sure you understand the difference between the intercessions and the notices, and don’t confuse the two…DON’T: use the intercessions to share information or worse, gossip. It happens…

Nancy Wallace Don’t think you will be heard because of your “much speaking”. Less is best. God knows the needs before we ask.

30 August 2011 17:50
Claire said...

Brevity and being to the point are virtues in intercessions. People need space to pray. If the intercessor talks too long, you just feel you are listening to a radio broadcast.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you for commenting Claire. I absolutely agree with you!

14 February 2012 22:04
14 February 2012 21:47
Charley Farns-Barns said...

Just found this – and wot a lot of guff! And NONE of it about actually DOING it! I urge you to go into the church when its empty with a friend, stand where you’re going to do your masterpiece and read out something loud. Get your friend to move about and advise you whether he/she can hear you clearly. Echos and quiet spots will abound, and you’ll be surprised how slowly and loudly you’ll need to speak. Don’t be afraid of including silences for peoples’ own prayers – again your friend can advise. Most silences will seem too long to the newby intercessor.
As for content, that’s the easy bit. Stick too something simple like HC Order 1 from Common Worship and add in just FEW bits of news and names. Then just do it and you’ll get used to it and work up to something that’s longer and more your own personal contribution. THEN you can include all the advice above!
Regards, Charley F-B.

Lay Anglicana said...

Good advice Charley!
And ‘intercessions’ is the most used phrase in search engines to get to this site. There is great hunger out there for advice and reassurance. We will be providing a lot more ‘guff’ soon for those who like that sort of thing – always understanding that people will take what they can use and rise above the rest.

Charley Farns-Barns said...

Really? Really “take what they can use and rise above the rest”? Methinks that the real problem is not making it all up – afterall the intended intercessors are mature people (and almost as intelligent as us!) who have had to write at least some times on delicate subjects. The biggest problem for them is speaking in public in a wierd echoey hall of great local importance.
Encouragement and practice will do it, Charley F-B.

Lay Anglicana said...

This may be one problem, the physical one. But I assure you that there are other pitfalls seen by people as well – how long to speak for, how much silence, what subjects, how much does it need to be public prayer tied to the lectionary and how far it can be private prayer, publicly aired. And many other questions besides!

16 February 2012 13:10
16 February 2012 06:33
15 February 2012 21:30
15 February 2012 20:49
Nick Black said...

I led our intercessions for the first time last Sunday….and found this today!

The advice I receievd from our Rector was to follow the ASB tradition, try to tie in with the readings for the day and above all open your heart to the Lord and let him guide you.

I have had some wonderful feedback from members of the congregation, so I think I must have got something right!

I found it very moving and an uplifting experience, and would recommend anyone considering it to have a go.

I do agree with some previous comments that it is not easy to find guidance, although I did find plenty of prayers to use as starting points and inspiration.

Lay Anglicana said...

Congratulations – if I may? And I will add something that our bishop said to us when we became lay worship leaders, ‘now your first task is to find someone to join you’! Perhaps your congregation is different, but in my experience people are very nervous of doing intercessions, seeing it (quite rightly) as moving metaphorically half way into the chancel. You will never attend a service in quite the same way again, but the rewards are, as you say, enormous. Further up and further in…

14 March 2012 07:46
14 March 2012 01:43
Lynda said...

I sometimes do the intercessory prayer at church and I know many people feel quite intimidated with the idea of leading the intercessions. Your Website has been a great source of help and information and I let others know at church that this is where I often seek some help. As a lay person, the best advice I can give is to keep it simple, speak clearly and allow some space for silence so people have an opportunity to pray privately. Prayer is something we need to develop personally, outside of church and I think this makes it easier to lead intercessions because we are talking to God, bringing our petitions to him on behalf of others. So thank you Lay Anglicana for the wealth of information you provide and the service you offer worldwide.

26 September 2015 13:45

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