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Why Do We Do What We Do in Worship? #8 - The Congregational Intercessory Prayer

Why Do We Do What We Do In Worship?

#8 — The Congregational Intercessory Prayer

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

The gospel shapes not only the individual life of a believer but also the corporate life of the church. In particular, the gospel should provide the structure for the corporate worship of the church. In view of the gospel being a message that calls for a response, the order of worship here at Grace and Peace can be understood as a dialogue. Put simply, during a worship service God speaks, and His people listen and respond. God’s people speak, and God listens and responds. God speaks to His people through the reading, singing, and preaching of His Word. God’s people speak to Him through prayer, whether spoken, or as in the case of hymns and songs, sung.

As has been previously noted, there are several prayers in our order or worship: the invocation; the confession of sin; a prayer following the collection of our gifts and offerings; and a prayer of illumination before as well as a prayer of application after the sermon. In addition to those prayers, there is one central prayer whose focus is to bring the requests of the gathered congregation before God’s throne of grace. This is the congregational prayer of intercession, which is also known commonly as the pastoral prayer.

The Scriptures orient the prayer, and the words of the Bible anchor its content. Therefore, this prayer of intercession often follows the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer or the five-fold outline found in Scripture and employed by the early church, in which we pray for: 1) the civil authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-2); 2) Christian ministry and mission around the world (Matthew 9:36-38); 3) the salvation of all men (1 Timothy 1:1, 3-4); 4) the sanctification of the saints (Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-12); and 5) the afflicted (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 11; James 5:13-18). We will also use a passage of Scripture such as Psalms 67, 86, and 98 to guide and direct our prayer of intercession.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q & A # 98

Q:  What is prayer?
A:  Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.

Westminster Larger Catechism Q & A # 178

Q:  What is prayer?
A:  Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit; with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.