Giving The Opening Prayer

Q. I am seeking your advice concerning prayer. Our Pastor is leaving and we are having a farewell banquet for him and his family. There will be many in attendance including pastors from other churches and I have been asked to offer the opening prayer.

The idea of praying aloud in front of so many makes me nervous. I always pray from my heart but in this case would it be okay to write something and memorize it?

Also when I think about what to say in the opening prayer, the book of Psalms comes to mind but I don’t know why. Is there something there I should know concerning this? Perhaps a word from Psalms that I should use in the prayer?

A. Of course it’s OK to write something down and even read it. You’re giving an invocation, or opening prayer. It’s purpose is to invoke God’s blessing upon and presence at the meeting, as well as to prepare the hearts of those in attendance. A number of Psalms were written for this purpose. You can pick parts of them to incorporate into your prayer if you think reading an entire Psalm would take too much time.

I’ve often stood at the pulpit on Sunday mornings just before the service began and browsed through the Psalms until the Lord put a particular one on my heart to use as an invocation. He never let me down. You might prefer to do this more in advance, asking the Lord to identify the one He’s apparently been guiding you toward.

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