The Prayers that Sandwich PreachingMay 29, 2008
Some thoughts on public prayers before and after preaching:
1) I don’t always pray publicly at the beginning of a sermon.
On reflection, my final decision is influenced by several factors:
a) Has the preaching only just been prayed for? If so, I probably don’t need to repeat it.
b) Is there a particular need for focus? With a lot of commotion – musicians still leaving the stage, congregational chatting(!) or a boisterous song beforehand – it can be good to pray to settle things down and lay down a ‘marker’ introducing a new phase of the service.
c) How much time do I have?
2) The opening prayer, if any, should be brief and probably well prepared.
Obviously, not the place to ramble! Beware: don’t introduce your sermon in the prayer!
3) I tend to always close with a prayer, precisely because I want the congregation to finish by connecting with God, not with me.
Since it is God that they (and I) now have to contend with because of the message, leading in a follow up prayer helps everyone get started. Sometimes I pre-prepare this final prayer. More often, I go extemporaneous. I find that I’m so ‘in the flow’ after preaching that prayer comes easily.
4) Typically, most congregations will close the service with a benediction after the final song.
Always check this beforehand if you are a visiting preaching. Ask: how does your service normally conclude? Its worth deciding on your benediction beforehand, putting a marker in your bible etc, rather than scuffling around during the final song.