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.