“Leading public prayers is a privilege and an opportunity.” This was the realisation voiced by one of the participants at third in a series of 4 training days for worship leaders and worship teams, organised by the Coast Mission Partnership.
Nearly 20 people from across the Synod attended the session held at North Shields Baptist Church, led by Revd Dr Jan Berry of Northern College. We learned about different forms of prayer, such as invocation, adoration, confession, thanksgiving, petition, intercession, offering, benediction and sending out, and when to use them in the context of a worship pattern of gathering, hearing and responding. Jan described different styles of prayer, such as structured, extempore, sung, responsive, bidding, silent, visual, musical and symbolic. We also shared experienced of what worked and what didn’t from the congregation’s point of view.
Good resources for prayer include:
- The annual United Reformed Church Prayer Handbook
- The subscription-based trimestral Roots
- The subscription-based Worship Cloud
In the afternoon, Jan explained how to write prayers – by meditating on a theme, drawing on imagination to brainstorm words with both positive and negative associations, focussing on the angle to take, drafting out the prayer as it flows, then revising after a break. Prayers may have a definite structure and vivid imagery, and should be clearly spoken and not too long, but should avoid jargon, long phrases, clichés, and language that unnecessarily alienates or distracts the congregation.
Finally, we spent some time writing our own prayers, which were shared at the end. There were good points in each of them, with some expressing themselves particularly poignantly.
We all agreed that it had been a useful day, giving us greater knowledge, confidence and inspiration in leading prayers in our own churches.