Leading Intercessions

Private Prayer and Public Worship – there is a difference!

In some traditions, the intercessory prayers are called 'the prayers of the people'. This helps us to realise what is happening at this stage of the service. Although one or more people will actually say the prayers, they are speaking on behalf of the whole church community.

Public praying is not saying one's private prayers publicly. Nor is public worship simply a larger version of a housegroup. A Sunday service will include newcomers and strangers as well as regular members of the congregation whom you hardly know. You need to be able to draw their concerns and their occasions for thanksgiving into the prayers too.

Personal sincerity, concern and conviction of God's goodness are a good starting point but in themselves they are not a guarantee of intercessions that will speak for the whole assembly.

Taking the people with you

to be recommended:

things to avoid:

being creative

Other points

Where to stand?

Remember, you are talking to God, not to or at the people. Saying the prayers from the body of the people is to be recommended. Most people will need a microphone for this.

Naming names

Do not be afraid to do this! But be sensitive – God knows why someone needs prayer or wants to give thanks. Remember, the person leading the intercessions is doing so on behalf of the people. Names called out are appropriate in a prayer group but less so in public worship.

What/who to pray for

You do not need to use all of these each time but the usual areas are:

Do not be afraid of structure. It does not hamper the working of the Holy Spirit, but enables the flow of the Spirit, just as water flows better through a carefully dug channel than through a rough ditch.


Examples of sung responses (NB most of these are best sung unaccompanied)

  1. Kum ba yah - sung quietly, with intercessions between the verses
  2. "If you believe and I believe and all God's people pray" - after sections of the intercessions.
  3. Taizé chants

    Some Taizé chants can be repeated quietly by the congregation or a group, or they can hum a note between the verses, while the intercessions are spoken over the top. This can be very effective.

  4. Kyrie eleison (Ukrainian setting and others)
  5. Iona songs

Further reading

These two websites are full of helpful advice and theological insights about intercession.

Help for Christians

Notes from the Diocese of Lichfield (with further links) Additional resources are:

Suggestions for intercessions

Church of England resource of topical prayers

More thoughts on intercessions

The "regular" outline for our intercessions is that on page 281 of Common Worship

This page was last modified on 3 July 2016