Build-Your-Own Worship Service (or Series) on Prayer
The faith practice of prayer is a way in which we actively submit ourselves and our world to God’s ongoing transformational work in Christ by expressing ourselves to God and listening for God to engage with us.
Pick and choose from the ideas below to shape a worship service or plan a series. Also see our Worship Service on the Practice of Prayer and this list of Intergenerational Activities on the Faith Practice of Prayer.
- Foundational Essay: Putting Prayer into Practice
- Bible passages
Matthew 6:9-13—A pattern for prayer
Psalm 145—A prayer of praise
Psalm 130—A cry for help
Mark 9:14-24—A prayer for faith
Psalm 13—A prayer of lament
- Recommended Resources from the Faith Practices Project
St. Augustine said, “To sing is to pray twice.” When you sing, you pray; when you listen and reflect, you are also praying! Below you’ll find some song suggestions to help you plan. (We’ve indicated the songs from our hymnal Lift Up Your Hearts with “LUYH.”)
- “A Christian’s Daily Prayer” by Sovereign Grace
- “All I Need” by Brian Courtney Wilson
- “Boldly I Approach the Throne” by Rend Collective
- "God Our Father (Let Your Kingdom Come)" by Sam Hargreaves and Resound Worship
- “Hear Our Prayer” by Christian Roberts
- “Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend (LUYH)
- “If You and I Believe in Christ” (Iona)
- “In Your Presence” by William McDowell
- “Jesus at the Center” by Israel Houghton
- “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher
- Lord’s Prayer
- “Abana in Heaven” by Laila Constantine (LUYH)
- “Our Father” by Don Moen
- “Make My Life a Prayer to You” by Keith Green
- “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship
- “Saturate” by Fred Hammond
- “Show Us Christ” by Sovereign Grace
- “Speak, O Lord” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend (LUYH)
- “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (LUYH)
Short refrains to intersperse with spoken prayer:
- “I Love the Lord; He Heard My Cry” by Richard Smallwood (LUYH)
- “Lord, I Pray” by Jean Keegstra-DeBoer and AnnaMae Meyer Bush (LUYH)
- “Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying” by Ken Medema (LUYH)
- “O Lord, Hear My Prayer” (Taize) (LUYH)
Below you’ll find ideas that can be modified and woven into a worship service as a way for people to experience this practice.
- Prayer strips. Make available paper strips or fabric markers and strips of cloth on which all ages can print their prayers before tying them to a surface. Some ideas for surfaces: a simple loom; chicken wire that’s been stapled to a large frame or wrapped over and in front of a sturdy table; incorporate the strips into a banner or other wall hanging.
- Headline prayers. Include in your worship slides headlines you’ve clipped from the news, and use those to structure your prayers, either with silent prayer or with spoken petitions.
- Map prayers. Spread out a large map on a table or floor and invite people to place battery-operated tea lights on a location for which they are praying; or hang the map on a wall and invite people to mark their prayer places with a pin or a small sticky note. Connect this practice with prayers for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22) by providing people with markers and paper strips on which to print their prayers before pinning them to the map. For a more local focus, use a large map of your church neighborhood or your city.
- Prayer stones. Bring paint pens and have people write a prayer or word on a smooth stone. Use this to create a cairn or a stream in the sanctuary.
- Prayer stations. Set up intergenerational prayer stations around your worshiping space. You might create the stations around a particular Scripture theme or topic such as Love, Pentecost, Creation, Loving our Neighbor, and so on. For inspiration and ideas, visit Theresa Cho’s Prayer Stations page.
- Prayer labyrinths. Whether they’re life-sized and walkable or hand-held and traceable, prayer labyrinths provide a way to pause and reflect during prayer. Inviting someone to share during worship about how and why they use a prayer labyrinth in their practice of prayer is an encouraging way to invite people into the experience.
- For a walkable labyrinth, arrange chairs, long pieces of rope, or strips of masking tape on the floor. You’ll find a template at How to Make a Prayer Labyrinth from the Diocesan Day of Prayer and Pilgrimage.
- Make hand-held versions from paper or cloth. Check online for paper templates; for cloth patterns, visit A Finger Labyrinth Project for All Ages at buildfaith.org. Summer Mohrlang of Sanctuary CRC has created a wonderful video resource for introducing the practice: see Prayer Using Finger Labyrinth (Psalm 73 and 1 John 3:16).
- Prayer postures. During a time of personal prayer, invite people to clench fists as a physical expression of all the worries they’re holding so tightly, slowly spreading fingers open while giving those concerns to God and then holding palms upward to receive God’s promises. During congregational prayer you might have people remain seated for individual prayer and then change their posture to stand, raise arms, open palms, or take on some other position of their choice to distinguish the work of corporate prayer.
- Prayer psalms. Provide each person with paper and something to write with as you guide them through writing their own psalm of prayer. To provide all ages with a print version to get them started, see “Psalm Starter” examples for adults and for children from Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church.
Encourage and equip people to continue exploring this faith practice by providing them with a resource to take home. Some ideas:
- A simple notebook to use as a personal prayer journal.
- The stone on which they wrote during worship to serve as a visual reminder of their prayer petition.
- Additional copies of hand-held prayer labyrinths.
- 5 Ways to Pray with Kids for households with children.
- The booklet Faith Practices: Holy Habits That Help Us Love God and Our Neighbor, Listen to the Spirit, and Become More Like Jesus.
Digital Images You Can Use
Use these memes for PowerPoint presentations, social media shares, print pieces, and so on.