The Prayers of Intercession are the time in the Sunday service when we lift up our real struggles, our genuine hopes, and our concrete dreams to God, who promises always to hear us. Sometimes these prayers are called The Prayers of the People. They are prayed by the lay assisting minister to make the point that these aren’t the pastors’ prayers, but the prayers of the gathered assembly. Each Sunday, they are different, and we always hope they name the real challenges that are occurring in the world and in our lives.
We are beginning to pray these prayers from the center of the room. During the Hymn of the Day, the assisting minister and the presiding minister will come to the middle of the church. The assembly is invited to turn and face them and one another. We hope this also creates a sense of community and connection during this important part of the liturgy. The intercessions call us out of ourselves and into the world, even into the life of our enemies. This is not a private time in the liturgy.
We also hope that we will better be able to hear when “we pray for all those on our prayer list and those we name before you now, silently or aloud.” If you haven’t spoken names out loud, challenge yourself to speak out loud this morning. We are eager to be in solidarity with you in your personal prayers. However, if if silent during this petition, we all participate by adding the response, “Hear our prayer,” or “Your mercy is great.” The response is our way of claiming the petition as our own. It’s another way that we pray TOGETHER.