Advice on Praying for the Whole World

Mar 21, 2024 9:00:00 AM / by Augsburg Fortress

Have you ever thought, “I’d love a step-by-step guide to help our prayer writer craft prayers of intercession each week?” Many congregations look to the intercessions available on Sundays and Seasons as a template or source of inspiration, yet they’d love to go a step further and write their own. How might you begin? 

Praying for the Whole World: A Handbook for Intercessors by Gail Ramshaw is a slim, very accessible volume that offers a seven-step plan for writing the prayers of intercession. “On Monday, step one” provides a foundation for what the intercessions are, that they are “both traditional, by voicing those requests that Christians have offered for centuries, and contemporary, by naming whatever calls for God’s help this week” (p. 9). Tuesday invites the user into pondering the Bible readings, and Wednesday helps you list what you might pray for that week. What might you pray for when you pray for the church? The creation? The nations? Your specific worshiping community? 

In the latter chapters, the author gives tips on format, writing, and editing, as well as practical tips for leading the prayers in worship. This section focuses less on what—what are the biblical texts suggesting, what might we pray for this week—and more on the how: how do I write in such a way that is memorable and clear? For example, Ramshaw’s helpful “Write with strong verbs” paragraph reminds us that “Our God is a God who acts” and “Our prayers ask God to abide, accompany, anoint, awaken, bring, care” .... and so forth (p. 43). The section on “Names, metaphors, and adjectives for God” invites a widening of our descriptive language (p. 42). And the section titled “Cautions” employs both wit and wisdom to note some potential pitfalls in the process. 

Even if you don’t use this book in a precise “seven-day” format, its content helps experienced and new prayer writers in this rewarding practice. The intercessions become firmly grounded in the local context, with encouragement to edit, even if that’s on Sunday morning with the news in hand. 

Whether you or someone in your worshiping community regularly crafts intercessions, or you’d like to begin the practice, this resource is an insightful resource to accompany the process. As the author notes in the introduction, “Use whatever in this handbook you find helpful as you craft intercessions that are faithful and insightful, engaging and profound” (p. 6). 

Topics: prayer, praying, worship

Augsburg Fortress

Written by Augsburg Fortress

Augsburg Fortress develops engaging resources for Lutheran congregations In our ministry as the publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we create substantive and innovative materials to support the ministries of faith communities in communicating the good news of God's liberating grace. To meet the evolving needs of Lutheran communities, we continually invest in the development of new ministry resources, seeking ongoing input from theologians, educators, church leaders, and church members.

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