Leading the corporate prayer on a Sunday is a solemn responsibility. It is a moment of high worship. It is a moment of practical teaching. High worship, because you represent the praise, gratefulness, and needs of our people. Teaching, because for many this will be a formative time of what communion with God looks like. As such, this responsibility must be accompanied by careful, soulful preparation.

Team Leader and Team

  • See Appendix 1: Corporate Prayer Team Leader and Team.

Preparation

  • Your corporate prayer must be well prepared. This is a worship and teaching moment in our service.
  • If you are unable to fulfil your duty please give your team leader sufficient notice.
  • See Appendix 2: Frequent Faults in Public Prayer.
  • See Appendix 3: Characteristics of a Good Public Prayer.

Arrive

  • Please arrive no later than 8:15am for the 8:30am service.
  • Inform the service coordinator and worship leader that you are present when you arrive.

Before the Services

  • Be seated when the bell rings 5mins before each service.
  • Be seated in such a way as to minimise distraction when you come up.
  • Anticipate coming up immediately when the corporate prayer slide goes up.

Before the Corporate Prayer

  • Do not tamper with the lectern.
  • Always use the mic.
  • Do not test the mic by blowing into it.
  • Do not put your hands into your pockets.
  • 5-8 minutes have been allocated for corporate prayer.

Inform the Congregation

  • “This is an expression of our unity before God.”
  • “This is an opportunity for heads of families to grow in the discipline of corporate prayer.”
  • “Let us come before the LORD in prayer.”

The Corporate Prayer

  • What follows is a number of options for inclusion in a corporate prayer. Be selective, discriminate, and varied as you go about the process each time that you pray.
  • As far as possible use plural nouns we and our over personal nouns I and me.
  • Corporate prayer requires preparation. Do be aware of specific blessings received that we can thank God for; or specific petitions to bring before Him.
  • You may read a short passage of Scripture but please do not expound it.
  • As far as possible be specific in prayer. I have used Matthew Henry’s A Method for Prayer to frame much of the content of individual sections. Matthew Henry was a Nonconformist minister and author.

Corporate Prayers of Adoration

Corporate Prayers of Confession

Corporate Prayers of Thanksgiving

Corporate Prayers of Petition and Supplication

Conclusion of Corporate Prayers

Names and details for specific prayers

  • Our members: spiritual growth, marriages, spiritual heads of families, children. Our elders (Mark together with his wife Liezl, Kaitlyn, Kathryn and Thomas and Etienne together with his wife Lee-ann, Jadon and Kori), deacons (Richard together with his wife Lana and Taylor and Tammi), Bible study leaders. Work and employment needs in our church.
  • Churches we partner with: Northmead Baptist Church (Jason), Moletsane Baptist Church Soweto (Sammy), Florida Baptist Church (Gideon), Midrand Chapel (Chris) (see other church in Benoni here). Specific local churches from Sola 5 or Baptist Northern Association. The Church of South Africa or other countries.
  • Our country: Our president (Cyril Ramaphosa) and his cabinet, our mayor (Mzwandile Masina), our ward counsellor (Kabelo Mahonko), our SAPS station commander (Belinda Motaung) and members of the station, our Community Police Forum, our EMPD superintendent and members of the station, our Fire Department captain and members of the station, our local clinic (Tumi) and the staff.
  • Our local schools: (Crystal Park Primary School, Crystal Park High School, Jahari Christian Academy, Noordelig, Ashbury, Prestige College).

Leave

  • You lead corporate prayer at both the 8:30 and 10:30 service.
  • You are free to leave after the corporate prayer in the 10:30 service.

How Does Communion Feel?

  • Sombre.
  • Joyful.
  • Pastoral.
  • Fatherly.
  • Earnest.
  • Pastoral.

Helpful Texts

  • See Appendix 4: Helpful Texts.

Appendix 1: Corporate Prayer Team Leader and Team

Team Leader

Mark Penrith

Team

Chris Scott

Christoff Goosen

Etienne Du Toit

Tshepo Pitso

Appendix 2: Frequent Faults in Public Prayer

This list is a summation of Samuel Miller’s Thoughts on Public Prayer compiled by Ligon Duncan and published by 9 Marks. Samuel Miller was a Presbyterian theologian who taught at Princeton Theological Seminary (1769-1850).

  1. Overuse of certain favorite words and set forms of expression. This can become monotonous if one leads in pastoral prayer week after week. Too much repetition of God’s name (“Lord,” “Father,” “Heavenly Father,” etc.) should also be diligently avoided. This is often simply a matter of habit and lack of forethought.
  2. Hesitation and apparent embarrassment in articulation. Long, awkward pauses and grasping for words detract from the power of public prayer.
  3. Ungrammatical expressions in prayer. Rules of grammar and syntax should be studiously observed lest our poor form of speech become a stumbling block to those congregated for worship.
  4. A lack of order and certain important elements of prayer. Disorderliness is a distraction for people who are trying to pray along with the one leading in prayer. During our public worship every biblical element of prayer (such as adoration, confession, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession) should be employed. If there is only one comprehensive prayer in the service it should exhibit each part of prayer. If the various parts of prayer are divided into multiple prayers then each element should be given due prominence within the service. Corporate prayer which ignores or neglects any one of these elements is essentially defective.
  5. Too much detail in particular elements of prayer. We should aim for proportion between the various parts of the prayer.
  6. Praying too long. Excessive length in public prayer should be avoided. “Long prayers are for the closet.” In Miller’s day, when attention spans were much longer than our own, he recommended 12-15 minutes at the most. The reader may judge what is appropriate for his own situation.
  7. The employment of allegorical style in prayer. Overuse of highly figurative language is to be discouraged and simplicity of form commended.
  8. Introduction of allusions to party politics, and personalities in prayer. These are serious faults in public prayer. On the matter of prayer and politics the wise and learned Dr. Miller, toward the end of his earthly course, said, “I resolved, more than thirty years ago, never to allow myself, either in public prayer or preaching, to utter a syllable, in periods of great political excitement and party strife, that would enable any human being so much as to conjecture to which side in the political conflict I leaned.” With regard to alluding to specific personalities in prayer, it may be noted in passing that it is never appropriate to pray “at” someone in public worship.
  9. Usage of unsuitably affectionate or intimate language in prayer. The inappropriate use of amatory language (particularly when directed toward the persons of the Trinity) ought to be avoided in public devotions. This language, no matter how well intentioned, often has the appearance of being artificial or quaint.
  10. The injection of comedy into prayer. The practice of indulging in wit, humor, or sarcasm in public prayer is absolutely inexcusable and should not be tolerated.
  11. Use of prayer to expound on a point of teaching. Miller says, “the excellence of a public prayer may be marred by introducing into it a large portion of didactic statement.” The purpose of prayer is not to provide an outline of the text, the sermon or some topic in Christian doctrine, but to lead sinners to the throne of grace.
  12. Careless over-emphasis of doctrines which are particularly repugnant to unbelievers. Those who are prone to discoursing on doctrine in their praying may also tend to be “studious of introducing, with much point, those doctrines which are most offensive to the carnal heart and which seldom fail to be revolting to our impenitent hearers.” While no Scriptural doctrine should be deemed unsuitable for and excluded altogether from public prayer (even difficult and offensive teachings: the atonement, original sin, predestination, etc.) we should not become disproportionate in our emphasis or thoughtless in our language.
  13. Casualness or over-familiarity in our speech with the Almighty. The High and Holy One is often addressed with too much familiarity (and sometimes almost flippancy). This is both distracting and disturbing to devout persons and ought to be studiously avoided.
  14. Inappropriate display of pastoral “humility.” Many ministers, before they preach, are wont to confess their unworthiness to proclaim the gospel and abase themselves before God. Miller warns, “there is such a thing as expressing unseasonably and also as carrying to an extreme the profession of humility.” Public avowal of our ministerial humility (even in the form of prayer) carries with it certain spiritual dangers for which we all must be on guard.
  15. Flattery in prayer. Anything even approaching flattery in public prayer is a serious matter. As Miller said, “flattery in any man and on any occasion is criminal.” Yet, particularly when there are visiting dignitaries present in the congregation or preaching in the pulpit, this is a temptation to which ministers often succumb. We pray to God not to men. The Lord Almighty is our audience. Let us seek our approval of Him.
  16. Lack of a sense of occasion. Some prayers so disregard the circumstances of the service, that they are virtually generic and would be as suitable for one occasion as well as another. Public prayer ought to be fitted for and appropriate to the circumstances of the service in which it is rendered.
  17. Lack of reverence in the conclusion of prayer. Often the sentences or words of a prayer are spoken in such a way which gives the impression that the one praying is more concerned about what he must do following the prayer than he is with reverently addressing the Almighty. Our conclusions to prayer should be as worshipful as our beginnings.
  18. Excessive volume and rapidity in prayer. Sometimes, as an expression of deep and ardent feeling, a person will pray very loudly and/or rapidly. Not only is this distracting in and of itself, but also makes it difficult for the congregation to follow along.

Appendix 3: Characteristics of a Good Public Prayer

This list is a summation of Samuel Miller’s Thoughts on Public Prayer compiled by Ligon Duncan and published by 9 Marks. Samuel Miller was a Presbyterian theologian who taught at Princeton Theological Seminary (1769-1850).

  1. Public prayer should abound in the language of Scripture. This is “one of the most essential excellencies in public prayer,” said Miller. The language of the word of God is always right, safe, and edifying. Furthermore, in God’s word there is a simplicity and tenderness which is very powerful and particularly suited to captivate the heart. Finally, it enables the listener to follow the prayer more easily.
  2. Public prayer should be well-ordered. Regular order is helpful to the memory of the one who is leading in prayer and assists the worshippers who are joining in it. Furthermore, it helps keep the prayer at a proper length. Of course, this does not mean that the same order must be used every time.
  3. It should be general and comprehensive. Miller observes that “a suitable prayer in the public assembly is dignified and general in its plan, and comprehensive in its requests, without descending to too much detail.” This will better suit the prayer to the general petitions that need to be rendered up by the congregation as a whole.
  4. It should not be too wordy or lengthy. This will involve care not to attempt to pray on too many topics, or in too great detail.
  5. It should be appropriate to the occasion on which it is offered. This is a Scriptural pattern, a help to the worshippers, and a good way to keep pastoral prayers from becoming too tedious or lengthy.
  6. It ought to contain a good dose of gospel truth. Without turning into a sermon, Miller suggests that “It is an important excellence in a public prayer that it include the recognition of so much gospel truth as to be richly in instructive to all who join in it, as well as who listen to it.”
  7. It should manifest variety. There is so much that is suitable for inclusion in the petitions of corporate prayer in the Lord’s church, that only laziness can lead us to pray over the same content, in the same pattern, week after week. A desirable degree of variety in prayer can be a great help to holding the attention of those worshippers who are seriously attempting to join in offering prayer to God.
  8. If prayer is routinely closed with a doxology from Scripture, the doxology should be varied. This practice was standard in Miller’s day and is to be commended to the Christian public in our own.
  9. It should contain petition for the advance of the gospel. Miller says “a good public prayer ought always to include a strongly marked reference to the spread of the gospel, and earnest petitions for the success of the means employed by the Church for that purpose.”
  10. The names of the Lord should be appropriately employed in the various parts of prayer. Instead of simply employing one title of God throughout a prayer it is appropriate to change this title from one segment of prayer to another.
  11. It should be marked by the spirit and language of hope and confidence. “Our gracious covenant God loves to be taken at his word; to be firmly and affectionately trusted; to have his exceeding great and precious promises importunately pleaded; and to be approached as a willing, tender Father, not only `mighty to save,’ but ready and willing to save; more ready to bestow the gifts of his grace than earthly parents to give good things to their children” said Miller.
  12. The prayer after the sermon should be solemn and impressive. Miller suggests that “it ought to be formed upon the plan of taking hold of the conscience and the heart most deeply and effectually.”
  13. The frequent use of the Lord’s prayer is proper, but not mandatory. We should not feel constrained to use the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday.
  14. The voice and tone in which we offer prayer should be suitable to the solemn activity. “It is important to add, that the whole manner of uttering a public prayer should be in accordance with the humble, filial, affectionate, yet reverential spirit which ought to characterize the prayer itself throughout,” said Miller. For a sinner to offer a prayer to Almighty God in a “pompous, dictatorial manner” is incongruous with our status as sinful men and the very activity of prayer (which is an acknowledgment of our creaturely dependence and an exercise of humble reliance).

Appendix 4: Helpful Texts

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