Public prayer is an act of worship and deserves intentional, careful preparation. It is a critical opportunity for elders to shepherd and lead the congregation well.
One important aspect of the prayers is embodying an appropriate emotional tone. Before the prayer, we want to communicate with a joyful, brazen confidence and hope in God. During the prayer, we want to be joyful over good things and sober during confession. Make sure the prayer isn’t overly somber or triumphant. Keep it balanced.
Prayers should have a natural-sounding delivery even when they are read. Try writing your prayers with the ear in mind.
Keep the phrase “get to it” in mind. Pray with a sense of urgency and direction that helps those praying with you follow you.
Seek to connect prayers to the theological and anthropological themes.
During Pastoral Prayer:
Note Important Events in the life of the body and help cast a vision for how the congregation ought to think about those events before praying for them. You could mention the death of one of our members, a wedding, a new baby, an upcoming conference, an all-church hike, etc. This is a great time to explain why we do things like the Harvest Offering, Fall Kick-Off, or Easter Egg Hunt. What is the motivation behind it? If you don’t know, please feel free to ask. If you can’t generate the enthusiasm necessary for a particular event (e.g., some elders may be more excited about an Easter Egg Hunt than others) let us know and we can reassign it.
We pray for the congregation with the congregation. We are not highlighting the individual but the collective. Use “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me.” Likewise, speak directly with God in prayer not just about him.
Work through your prayer before the service, paying close attention to how you will lead the congregation. Spontaneity is not necessarily more spiritual. Remember, you are representing the congregation before God and modeling prayer for the body.
Our prayers tend to average around 3-5 minutes so you want to focus on specificity without redundancy. Avoid using words like “just,” “Lord Jesus,” or “we pray” as punctuation marks between sentences. Instead, craft your prayer around the God theme and man theme on display in the sermon text.
When you speak before the prayer don’t add in extra content that you haven’t had approved. The prayers should tightly correspond with what God is revealing to us about himself through His Word and be connected with the overall mission of Trinity Bible Church.
What to Pray For
Below are different categories that can structure the prayer. This isn’t a comprehensive list and don’t feel pressured to hit each category every week.
Praise: A prayer to the triune God, voiced on behalf of the congregation, praising Him for who He is and what He has done (Eph.1:3-14). Focus on the particular aspect of God’s character on display in the God theme.
Confession: A prayer to God, voiced on behalf of the congregation, confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness for Christ's sake (Neh.1:4-11; 1 John 1:9). Connect the confession with the man theme. Don’t name specific people struggling with specific sins. Use your experience at home, work, and church to give specific examples of worldliness we need to confess. Taking moments of silence for people to pray about specific areas isn’t bad, but it can be confusing—especially for outsiders. Help lead them by praying for forgiveness from specific areas of sins many struggle with.
Thanksgiving: Prayer to God voiced on behalf of the congregation, giving thanks to Him for what He has done for us through Christ (Col. 3:15-17). Always move from confession to thanksgiving for God’s provision for sinners in Christ.
Trinity Bible Church: How do the themes relate to our local church? How should we pray for TBC in light of the themes of the text? Is there something significant in the life of the body and our mission that we need to seek God’s help in pursuing?
Anything You Announce: If you make an announcement about something before you pray you will almost always want to pray for it.
Staff, Deacons, Elders: There may be an individual who needs specific prayer for unique trials in their family, work, or ministry. Otherwise, pray for the person suggested in your weekly guideline. Pray for their particular area of service and ministry. You might thank God for faithful service, remember their family’s sacrifice in allowing them to serve, ask that God would bless their efforts, and request that God would hold their feet fast from sin.
Missionaries: Pray for one of our supported missionaries by name with specifics about their field. When you pray for a foreign missionary, you might consider praying for their geographical region as well.
Region: We pray for the nations, asking God to constrain the earth to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We consider world events from a Christian worldview. This also prevents us from becoming narrow in our concern for God’s redemptive plan.
Government: Pray for the wisdom of the President, Senators, Congressmen, judges, Governors, Mayors, etc. Pay attention to what’s going on in our nation or region and help the congregation process it with a Christian worldview.
Special Needs: Sickness, death, babies, weddings of specific people. Name them if you can. When in doubt if you should mention someone by name, leave it out.
Other Evangelical Churches: Pray for other gospel-centered churches in the area. Churches within our TGC AZ network or where one of our former interns serves would typically take priority.
Preaching of the Word: Pray for power, unction, clarity, freedom, and a clear sense of the Spirit’s leading in preaching as well as hearts that are softened to the gospel. Pray for faith for unbelievers and the transformation of believers into the image of Christ.
Generosity: We have been asked to close with a prayer for the offering to let ushers know they need to spring into duty, but it’s also important to continue to petition God to help our hands to be generous like our God is.
For further thoughts on the importance of the pastoral prayer, Tony Merida’s Article, “Why I Look forward to the Pastoral Prayer at Church” at