By Becky Harling, Crosswalk.com
In today’s culture, where many are longing for a more liturgical style of worship, a pastoral prayer is a wonderful gift to include in Sunday morning worship services. A pastoral prayer is a great way to help the congregation direct their thoughts to God while at the same time experiencing blessing from the pastor.
What Is a Pastoral Prayer?
A pastoral prayer is usually prayed by the Pastor or another minister of a church during the service. The purpose of pastoral prayer is to lead the congregation into a deeper awareness of God’s presence. Often there is a prayer of invocation toward the beginning of the service. Before the offering, there is often a pastoral prayer asking for God’s blessing on the gifts of God’s people. Pastoral prayers of thanksgiving and intercession can also be used to direct the worshipper’s attention to praying over different current events. Finally, a benediction is usually an offering combined with a blessing at the end of the service.
Are There Different Kinds of Pastoral Prayers?
There are a few different types of Pastoral prayers used in within weekend worship services. Each of these pastoral prayers provides rich threads of blessing, weaving together the tapestry of the entire worship service.
Pastoral Prayers of Invocation
One type of pastoral prayer that is prayed near the beginning of the worship service and is called the Invocation. An invocation invites God’s presence into the worship service.
Here is an example of an invocation, “Almighty God, as we stand in awe of your goodness and mercy today, we invite you to be present amongst us by the power of your Holy Spirit. Father, we declare that we love you. Thank you that you have made the way of love known through your son, Jesus Christ. We pray that you would reveal this great love to us as we gather to worship. Lead us by your Spirit to praise You. May our hearts overflow with thanksgiving and our mouths proclaim your everlasting greatness.”
Pastoral Prayers to Bless the Offering
Most churches take up an offering in some part of the service. We worship the Lord when we willingly bring our tithes and offerings before Him. Often before the offering or immediately following, the Pastor or other minister will pray a blessing over the offerings of God’s people. The prayer might go something like this:
“Lord God Almighty, You are the giver of all gifts. As we return to You a portion of all You have given to us, we ask that You would bless our gifts and multiply them to be used by You for Your honor and glory. We recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from You! Thank You for all You have given us!”
Pastoral Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Often Pastors will lead the congregation in a corporate prayer of Thanksgiving or Intercession. At times the prayer might include both thanksgiving and intercession. However, a pastoral prayer of intercession might be especially relevant to current events. For example, after 9/11, many pastors prayed specifically for our nation and interceded for safety and courage on behalf of God’s people. In more recent times, when the war in Ukraine broke out, Pastors prayed in worship services for the believers in Ukraine to know the presence of God and to experience His protection. They prayed against anxiety and fear and for a sense of peace and calm to prevail.
Examples of both types of prayer are below.
Thanksgiving prayer: “Our gracious and loving Heavenly Father, we come to You today in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. We want to thank You for Your amazing grace that saved us, changed our lives, and brought us into Your eternal Kingdom. And all that’s wonderful, but we can’t live in the past. The yesterdays were wonderful, but this is today and we need that amazing grace every day. We need it today because we live in a fast-paced world and each day has its challenges and we don’t know what a day will bring forth. But we do know that Your grace is always sufficient and we rejoice in that. By Your grace we can do things we never thought possible and we can reach heights we never thought we could reach. So, today we give You thanks and we glorify Your matchless name.”
Intercession prayer: “Lord Jesus, You have told us not to fear though the earth give way and the mountains crumble. Nation rises up against nation in war, yet, we know and affirm that You are sovereignly in control. We intercede now for the people of Ukraine. Let them know and experience your ever-present help. Help the believers there to be still and know that You are God. Re-assure them that You are with them. We ask Sovereign Lord, that You will bring this war to an end and that these nations will be at peace.
Pastoral Prayers of Benediction
At the end of a worship service, the Pastor or some other minister will close the service with a benediction of blessing over the congregation. Most often these benedictions come straight from the scriptures.
A common benediction used by Pastors is, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; The LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
Another common blessing comes from the New Testament book of Hebrews, “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, may he work in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever” (Hebrews 13:20-21).
How to Pray a Pastoral Prayer
A pastor is really a shepherd of God’s people. In keeping with that thought, when you are praying a pastoral prayer, consider what the people of God need. Think of pastoral prayer as a method to encourage the congregation and to direct their thoughts to Almighty God.
It’s always appropriate to use scripture in pastoral prayers. This assures you are praying in God’s will but also acquaints the people of God with key scriptures. Search the scriptures for prayers of blessing and then incorporate those into your Worship service prayers. The congregation will benefit from having scripture prayed over them and you, yourself, will be blessed by the scriptures.
Some pastors follow the pattern of praise, petition, and then blessing and benediction. Petitions are often made for people of all ages within the church family, prayer for those out of the church family in the community who are hurting or suffering, and prayer for government officials and for significant crises locally and globally. The Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy, writing, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be make for all people – for Kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). What an amazing mandate for pastoral prayer!
In our present culture, there seems to be a shift happening in the church where people are longing for a more liturgical style. Incorporating a pastoral prayer helps to not only bless people, but also incorporate a bit of liturgy. Pastoral prayers of invocation, blessing over the offering, thanksgiving and intercession, and finally, benediction become beautiful threads woven into the tapestry of Sunday morning worship.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/BrianAJackson
Authentic. Passionate. Funny and Biblical all describe Becky Harling. A best-selling author, Becky is a popular speaker at conferences, retreats, and other events. She is the author of 11 books, including Our Father, Psalms for the Anxious Heart, How to Listen so Your Kids Will Talk, and The Extraordinary Power of Praise. Becky is a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team and a seasoned Bible teacher. You can connect with Becky at www.beckyharling.com, www.harlingleadership.com, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/beckyharlingministries, Twitter, @beckyharling, or on Instagram at Becky Harling