The Shape of Worship 12: The Prayers of the People

For Meditation

After we have confessed our sin and heard about our forgiveness, heard God’s Word preached and the gospel proclaimed, we respond by addressing God as our Father and bringing before Him the needs of our community and the needs of the world.  During the Prayers of the People, then, we experience and reaffirm our connection with God, with each other, and with the world into which we are sent, asking for God’s power and mercy be poured out “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Praying together in worship demonstrates that we believe there is someone other than ourselves in this room.  First and foremost this reminder is about God, Himself: praying together affirms that we believe in a God who is really present, who cares about our concerns, and who, as creator, has both the desire and power to bring healing, restoration and justice.  

But we are also in the room with each other: sharing individual needs with and even for one another helps unite us as a body, reminding us that following Jesus is not only a matter of solitary devotion, but is also about being called into a complicated and diverse community.  We learn to hold each other up and love each other better when we share our dependence on God through prayer in the midst of worship.

Finally, though, in the Prayers of the People we bring our neighborhoods, city and world “into the room,” with God, too, remembering that we are called to be a blessing to the nations.  We may often feel helpless to respond to the suffering around us, but in lifting up the pains and brokenness of the world in worship, we affirm that though we are weak, Jesus is strong. Trusting in His atoning work and ongoing intercession as our priest and sacrifice enables us to come boldly into the throne of grace, confident that His will will be done.

As you prepare for worship this week, be looking forward to the time in our service when you are invited to share your concerns and needs and hopes with each other and with God.

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2 Kings 19:15-19

15And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.  17“It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”

1 Timothy 2:1-2

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.