When the church gathers, we pray for the needs of the world. Like preaching that is both rooted in
scripture shared across time and space and attentive to the local assembly at the present moment, the sense of “praying for the world” is expansive but also attentive to a particular context.
Evangelical Lutheran Worship encourages that “The prayers [of intercession] are prepared locally for each occasion” (ELW. p. 105). How can this be done? What practices are useful? What resources can help? Listed below are several resources from ELCA Worship or Augsburg Fortress.
Downloadable Resources on ELCA.org/worship
How Do We Craft the Prayers of Intercession? This newly added FAQ summarizes the task of preparing intercessions. A list of further resources that dig deeper into the task are included.
Here Other Intercessions May Be Offered. This Sundays and Seasons essay offered by permission of Augsburg Fortress gives practical tips on what it means to pray contextually and gives concrete examples.
A Template for the Prayers of Intercession. This template prepared by Gail Ramshaw is an excerpt from Pray, Praise, and Give Thanks: A Collection of Litanies, Laments, and Thanksgivings at Font and Table. It is offered by permission to assist in the crafting of comprehensive intercessions.
For What Shall We Pray? This weekly post provided on the ELCA worship blog invites individuals, groups, and congregations to lift up our world in prayer. This resource is prepared by a variety of leaders in the ELCA and includes prayer prompts, upcoming events and observances, and prayer suggestions from existing denominational worship materials.
Prayer Ventures. These petitions, one for each day of the month, are offered as guides to prayer for the global, social and outreach ministries of the ELCA, as well as for the needs and circumstances of our neighbors, communities and world. While helpful for personal devotion, they could also be a helpful resource when preparing intercessions.
Resources available from Augsburg Fortress
Sundays and Seasons. This annual worship planning guide available both in print and via an online subscription provides crafted intercessions for each Sunday and festival in the church year. Worshiping asssemblies are encouraged to adapt as needed for local use. Sundays and Seasons also includes seasonal essays that included more general tips and suggestions.
Praying for the Whole World: A Handbook for Intercessors. This concise handbook proposes seven steps, from Monday to Sunday, to assist in preparing the weekly intercessions.
The Sunday Assembly. This first supporting volume to Evangelical Lutheran Worship includes guidance on the role of intercessions in the Sunday assembly (pp. 167-172).
Leading Worship Matters: A Sourcebook for Preparing Worship Leaders. A comprehensive guidebook, this resource devotes a chapter to preparing and leading intercessory prayer (pp. 69-94). Very practical helps such as a list of twelve tips for preparing the prayers and a sample letter of invitation to a training session for new intercessors, among others, are included.
If you have not yet encouraged lay people to craft and lead prayer in your assembly, may these resources be an encouragement in that holy work. As noted in Leading Worship Matters, “The intercessions are best prayed in different voices, by a variety of people with divergent experiences of life, who not only can articulate their own perspectives on the needs of the world but can gather up the needs of those around them (p. 71).
Blessings on your work of encouraging, teaching, and most of all, praying.
“Mercy, we abide in you. Stir in us, we pray” (ACS 1077).