What do you pray aloud before a sermon?

The pulpit at All Saints Basingstoke

The pulpit at All Saints Basingstoke

I’m back preaching on Sunday, for the first time in 10 months. I’m back in a proper pulpit for the first time since… I can’t remember when.

In my present church, we usually preach from a little portable lectern on the dais, not one of the matching lecterns either side the altar slightly further back. Often, the service leader will pray for the preacher before they start their sermon. Otherwise the preacher just launches in. Sometimes I’ve been comfortable doing that – especially if I’ve got a particularly strong opening to a sermon – but sometimes it doesn’t feel quite right.

I’m a guest preacher, on a special occasion, at All Saints, Basingstoke this weekend. It would be appropriate I feel, to offer a prayer before I preach. I will need it to settle myself into a now unfamiliar routine and place just as much as I think it right to formally recognise that what is offered before God and the people may need the ‘babel-fish’ of the Holy Spirit to speak into people’s hearts and minds.

But what words to use? (They might not get the Hitch-Hikers reference, or feel it appropriate!)

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” is true, but it’s a bit formal and stuffy for me.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD” (Psalm 19:14) is in the same league.

I’ve heard some lovely prayers from pulpits over the years, often thought I should ‘write that one down’ for future reference, but I never have.

So, as I ponder something that has authenticity for me (which may I realise be different in different circumstances), if you feel able to share some of your favourite prayers before preaching, I’d really welcome your encouragement and guidance.

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About ramtopsrac

Church of England Priest, child of God, daughter of the New Forest, wife and mother.
This entry was posted in ministry, sermons and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to What do you pray aloud before a sermon?

  1. Simon Martin says:

    Praying for a truly divine ‘babel fish’ experience on Sunday, Rachel 🙂

  2. Not too babel-fishy though. Don’t forget it disproved God, and was the cause of more and bloodier wars than anything else in history.

  3. ramtopsrac says:

    I got loads of lovely feedback last night to this query, via Twitter. So, I’ve put it all together below – fascinating what I learnt along the way (oh, and spot the diversity of the CofE!)

    May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer. @ClaireMaxim1 with italicised words said by congregation as well @MirandaTHolmes

    May the words I speak be those You want spoken, may the words we hear be those You want heard, may we live to Your glory. @ClaireMaxim1

    Heavenly Father, through weak human words, give us grace to hear your true and living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord @therevsteve

    Lord we thank you for the gift of your Word and as we think on these things open our hearts and minds to hear your word to us @chellmich

    Father, may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord @RevJillP

    Take my words and speak through them, take our ears and hear through them, take our hearts & set them on fire with love for you? @MirandaTHolmes

    Holy Spirit to touch my lips,open our hearts & transform our lives @goodinparts (with sign of cross)

    Lord God, open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts that we may hear and receive your Word, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. @RichardFWatson

    May I preach in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. @revdmichael @SimonGCutmore or In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. BUT if the service has begun with the invocation of the Trinity (“In the name of the Father etc..) then it’s bad form to use that… @RichardFWatson ALSO ‘In the name of the Father..’ isn’t a prayer. It’s really statement of intent & authority. @therealsjpf

    What ever comes to mind.. Perhaps version of “in the name of.” or “may the words”, seasonal or topical or whatever variations.. @fibrefairy

    Father as I speak, may you speak & may Jesus be glorified. @bencmasters via @SimonGCutmore

    I don’t pray before sermon in the liturgy (because the liturgy is prayer) & use informal bidding & communal Our Father before others. @thereasjpf

  4. My default one is “Through the written word and the spoken word, may we hear the Living Word, our Saviour Jesus Christ”.

  5. Ruth Harley says:

    Used to use “May I speak in the name of the living God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (default option in place I first preached). But gone off it a bit and now trying out alternatives so this has been really helpful, thanks.

  6. ramtopsrac says:

    Glad to be of use Ruth.

    After Miranda tweeted a correction to her earlier suggestion, I think I’ve ended up with the following for Sunday, but we’ll see:

    Lord, take my words and speak through them,
    take our thoughts and think through them,
    take our hearts & set them on fire with love for you
    through the power of the Holy Spirit,
    and in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

    • RosalindR says:

      Which is very similar to what I use when I do use an introductory prayer! I’ll see if I can write down what I do often use (and each time wish I’d thought of something different – so thanks for this compilation). Stephen Cottrell keeps silence for what seems like an eternity – and then starts. V powerful – and sometimes un-nerving!

    • Laurence Nelson says:

      I like this one, I am just starting to preach, this Sunday is my first “Sermon”. I hope you don’t mind if I use this – I may change a couple words in the future – but for now it is perfect for me. Thanks for having this site…. I as a soon to be licensed pastor really appreciate the down to earthness of this site. Lar

  7. Peter says:

    Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts bring us closer to you, I Lord.

  8. Demis Foster says:

    I’m a Baptist Lay Preacher, and my home Churches Worship Leader, and when ever I pray for the preacher, it is always (Something like):
    Father, thank you for x’s love of you, and your word.
    Would you bless our Brother/Sister with a Word not of them, but of you,
    And for those of us who hear, may we have hearts, minds and lives
    That are ready to be challenged, and changed, as you lead us,
    In Jesus Name, Amen

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