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3. Use ordinary, simple words; jargon puts people off. 4. Don't go on too long. You needn't include everything. 5. Worship should not be doom-laden! So remember causes for celebration: the successful Coffee Morning, Christmas Social, or Mums and Tots party. 6. Include references to topical events - local, Diocesan, national, international (see newspapers, and Diocesan Intercession leaflet). 7. End the prayer with a recognisable phrase which prompts the response. Familiar hymns or prayers are useful sources of these.

Leading the


What is Intercession?

Intercession seems the most natural and instinctive kind of prayer. Jesus himself prayed for other people in his ministry, and there are many examples in the Old Testament, too, of people praying for their families, their communities and even for their enemies. In intercessory prayer we bring the world with all its joys and sorrows before God the Creator, and look at it through His eyes, aligning ourselves with His will for its salvation or `wholeness'. Descriptions of how the first Christians worshipped tell us that intercession was always part of the Eucharist, as it is today. But there are many other kinds of worship when intercessory prayers may be offered. For example, there is space for such prayers in Morning and Evening Prayer, after the set prayers or Collects. In less formal worship also, such as an All-Age or Family Service, intercession is likely to play an important part, and several people, including children, may be involved in leading the prayers.

Working as a Team

Meeting regularly with other Intercessors is supportive and enriching and encourages you to take your task seriously. You might decide to plan intercessions so that they aren't just a random selection week by week. And a team can share ideas and friendly, constructive criticism.


General: J Pritchard The Intercessions Handbook SPCK

Collections of Prayers: D Adam Clouds and Glory Yr A, Traces of Glory Yr B, Glimpses of Glory Yr C N Fawcett Prayers for all Seasons D Murrie Worship through the Christian Year New Patterns for Worship Enriching the Liturgy Common Worship:Tines ansd Seasons R Chapman Leading Intercessions Iona Community Iona Abbey Worship Book

SPCK K Mayhew K Mayhew CHP SPCK SPCK Canterbury Wild Goose

Leading Intercessions in Worship

Leading the prayers of a congregation is what it says - leading people or enabling other people to pray. Regrettably, the intercessions sometimes sound more like someone praying their own personal prayers in public, or sharing their favourite prayers, or even their hobby-horses! Preparing and leading intercessions well, so that you enable other people to pray, takes quite a lot of skill and sensitivity. With experience and practice it will come more easily, but it will always be a demanding task which needs a lot of thought and care.

Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich Lay Education & Training Adviser 7 Maltings Garth Thurston BURY ST EDMUNDS IP31 3PP Tel. 01359 233050

Perhaps the saying about leadership, `Find out where they are going and walk in front of them', is particularly relevant to leading intercessions!


You need to help people to join in the intercessions, rather than just listening-in to them. Intercessions in public worship are different in this respect from the more intimate context of, say, a house group, where it is easier for people to see, hear and relate to each other. Intercessions in public worship need a simple structure, short phrases or sentences and a clear pattern. All these, and your tone of voice, make it clear where people are to join in. This may be through a response (eg Lord, in your mercy...Hear our prayer) or with an Amen. It is usually appropriate to include a period of silence for the congregation to offer their own prayers. Silence can be very powerful. It needs sensitive handling by the leader, so that people feel comfortable with it and able to use the silence without anxiety.

This is the one part of the service when people aren't sure what is coming next. Even if you have a printed sheet, remember it is hard for people to pray sincerely in words they have never seen before. Keep the prayers short and simple; focus them so people can really engage with the prayers - it is not easy to pray meaningfully for abstractions like `the sick', `the peace of the world' or 'all Christians everywhere'.

Prayers and Biddings

It helps to keep in mind the difference between prayers (addressed to God) and biddings (addressed to the congregation). Let us pray for...... invites or bids the congregation to pray; it is not yet a prayer. It needs to be followed either by a longish pause (in which people pray silently) or by a short break, then a prayer addressed to God.

Praying for the Sick

Know your church's policy about praying for individuals. Be sure the person has agreed to their name being used. Otherwise, pray in general terms for the sick, dying, deceased or bereaved, and include something like`....and in a moment of silence we remember those known to us personally'. Always respect confidentiality. Intercessions are not the time to give out the village news, or bulletins on people's state of health!

Shape and Content of Intercessions

Several options are open to the intercessor. Maybe that's the problem - most people's first thought is, Where on earth do I start or stop? If you are interceding during a Eucharist, you may wish to follow one of the outlines given in the service book. The outlines have the advantage and the disadvantage of being familiar! If you do choose to use a given framework, you need not follow it to the letter each week - in fact, if you do so, it gets very boring and predictable. You may choose other forms which have a regular congregational response. There are ideas in the many books of prayers available [see Resources section in this leaflet]. It is wise not to be too ambitious, unless the words are printed out on a service-sheet. In fact, there's a lot in favour of using prayers with well-chosen words and a traditional structure to which the congregation says Amen.

Helpful hints

Prepare in good time. Find and read through the Lessons. service has a theme, or it is a special occasion, bear it in mind.


If the

Intercession is public prayer from all the congregation on behalf of the whole wider community. Do not use the prayers to harp on about your own concerns, or air your own political viewpoint.

2. Speak clearly and confidently ­ but try not to shout. Don't rush ­ if it sounds too slow to you it's probably about right.


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