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Posts Tagged "intercessionary prayer":

Zeal: Intercessions for the 15th Sunday after Trinity Year B (2012)

The collect for this Sunday begins:

God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit upon your Church in the burning fire of your love:
grant that your people may be fervent in the fellowship of the gospel

The other readings are Proverbs 1.20-33 (all about Wisdom, and her revenge if she is ignored), Psalm 19.1-14 (the glories of  God’s handiwork), James 3.12 and Mark 8.27-38.

The epistle includes the following:

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire…no one can tame the tongue, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord…and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.

And the gospel reading includes:

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.


I looked for an image to illustrate religious fervour until I realised that in Christianity it is probably music that rouses ‘the burning fire of [our] love’. You will each have your own piece that ‘works’ for you. I offer the Hallelujah Chorus, which sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it. For me, today’s readings carry the message that we should be fervent in our faith, to the point of taking up our own cross,  but that we should temper this fervour with wisdom.

There is an all too vivid illustration of what can happen when religious zeal is not modified by wisdom, which we commemorated on Tuesday: the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon in 2001.

Perhaps the recurrent phrase might be ‘May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it’.


Bidding prayer

O Lord, give us boldness to proclaim your redeeming love and saving power in the world; may we be ready to bear the cross and give ourselves for others and the advancement of your kingdom.

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Church

Lord, empower your Church to follow the example of Christ in all things, courageous to face the hard demands of the Gospel. As the moment approaches for the selection of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, we ask you to send your Holy Spirit down upon those charged with the decision. May they find someone who is able to lead all your flock in unity, though not in uniformity, to bring your kingdom to this green and pleasant land.

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The World

Lord, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, and no strength known but the strength of love: so guide and inspire, we pray, the labours of those who seek to establish righteousness and peace among the nations, that all peoples may find their security, not in forces of arms but in the the fellowship of the gospel and the perfect love that casts out fear.

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Our Community

As the Leveson report into the behaviour of the press is prepared for publication, we pray for all who influence our minds through print, broadcast and cyber media. May they be true to the BBC prayer  that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace or purity may be banished… and that the people, inclining their ear to whatsoever things are beautiful and honest and of good report, may tread the path of wisdom and uprightness.

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Human Need and  Suffering

Enfold, O Lord, within your loving kindness all those who feel rejected, unwanted or alone. Hear our prayer for prisoners and all who are caught up in processes of law; for those enclosed within a private world of desolation by incapacity of mind or body, by age or grief or sickness, or because society has passed them by. Draw near and comfort them wherever they may be; and move the hearts of us and all your people to care more deeply for the pains of others.

Timothy Dudley-Smith

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

The Communion of Saints

Receive, O Lord, in tranquillity and peace, the souls of your servants who, out of this present life, have departed to be with you. Grant them rest, and give them the life that knows not age, the good things that pass not away.

St Ignatius Loyola

May we be fervent in our faith, and wise in applying it: Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


The Hallelujah Chorus is from Andre Rieu’s “Live From Radio City Music Hall” , performed in New York City 2004, with the Johann Strauss Orchestra and the Harlem Gospel Choir.

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


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