Prayers Surrounding Scripture Readings and Sermon *
Words Before Scripture Readings
The following are examples of simple phrases to announce the specific text:
The Word of the Lord from…
A reading from the book of…
The gospel according to . . .
The following are examples of words that may be added to the announcement of the text to be read. These words alert the congregation that the Bible is God’s Holy Word, and that the reading of the biblical text demands our careful attention:
Listen to the Word of God.
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Attend to the wisdom of the Word of God.
Let us hear what God is saying to us today.
Depending on the theme of the service or the context of the congregation’s life, the reading may be preceded by a more extended introduction, such as one of the following texts:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isa 55:10-11).
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Let us hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints (Psa 85:8).
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35)
The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy: “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Tim 4:13).
Prayer After Old Testament Reading
Our Father, we have heard wonderful things out of thy Word. We praise you for revealing Christ by promise and shadow in these pages. Help us to understand these words, for thy name’s sake.
Prayer After New Testament Reading
Our Father, we have heard wonderful things out of thy Word. We praise you for revealing Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and ask you to give us your Spirit so that we may understand the fullness of your truth.
Prayers Before Sermon
Eternal Father, who has spoken in various times and in various ways to your people in the past, but in these last days in your Son, the Incarnate Word, we pray that you will open the mouth of your servant to proclaim that Word in the power of the Spirit. And we pray that this same Spirit will open the hearts of its hearers here assembled to receive your holy Gospel and write on their hearts your holy Law, even as you have promised. All of this, gracious Father, we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying: “Our Father….” (approved by URCNA Synod 9/30/05)
Lord God, let the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, our rock and our redeemer. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen (based on Psa 19:14).
Make us to know your ways, O LORD; teach us your paths. Lead us in your truth and teach us, for you are the God of our salvation; for you we wait all the day long. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen (based on Psa 25:4-5).
Gracious God: Oh that our ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! (based on Psa 119:5)
Merciful Savior, may we will delight in your statutes; we will not forget your word (based on Psa 119:16).
Teach us, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and we will keep it to the end. Give us understanding, that we may keep your law and observe it with our whole heart. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen (based Psa 119:33-34).
God of Light, may your word be a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen (based on Psa 119:105).
Almighty God, may you give us the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Christ, so that the eyes of our hearts might be enlightened. Help us to know the hope to which you have called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of your power at work toward us who believe. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen (based on Eph 1:17-19).
Prayer After the Sermon
Our merciful God, who is pleased to condescend to speak to us through your word, grant us all grace that we may not be mere hearers of your word, but doers also. Give us the grace of your Holy Spirit that we may believe what has been promised to us. May we bring glory and honor to your name in all that we do, as you conform us to the image of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. All of this, gracious Father, we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying: “Our Father….” (approved by URCNA Synod 9/30/05)
* Many of these prayers excerpted from The Worship Sourcebook, The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004).