prayerscapes - creative journeys in worship and prayer

creative prayer journeys

Monthly Archives: November 2019

How to lead an opening prayer in church

Praying Hands and Bible

Today I’m going to give you three pointers to help you when leading others in prayer. In many ways when leading a meeting it is more about who you are than what you say! This is not just true for meetings but for every time we congregate with others for a shared purpose. Here are some tips for opening a meeting with prayer:

  • God is constant, he is always present by his Holy Spirit, always gracious, always wise, loving and holy. We are the ones that change! It is imperative that we are truly present, that as we open a meeting in prayer, we are not ahead of ourselves focusing on outcomes, or behind ourselves worrying about past concerns. Whether it is a church meeting, a small group gathering, a trustee’s group, a Sunday school or family meeting…… be present. Try to pause, breathe, look around you, take in the moment before praying. This is a new moment to us and to God, be aware of that freshness and allow the presence of God to still your heart.
  • Secondly prepare if you have the time! Bring something creative. It doesn’t matter how small this is. Bringing something physical can really help others to focus on God and engage in the meeting. Visuals are a good idea. For example, it could be as simple as bringing a glass of water, then praying that this meeting would be “full of God’s presence”, that we would come “thirsty for unity”, or that we “would find God refreshing our hearts and minds in this time”.  You might like to wait on God and see if a picture comes to mind, and then describe what you see to help inspire others in prayer. Or you could print out an image ( is a great resource for copyright free images). Sometimes I bring some tranquil instrumental music to play in the background – this can help to still people’s hearts and focus on God. Or if you play an instrument consider leading a short worship song. Other creative options might be to find a poem to read (or ask someone else to read it) that inspires prayer, or even consider giving a short testimony about something God has done in your life recently. This could lead seamlessly into a prayer of thanks for everything that God is doing among us.
  • Thirdly you need to be aware of the qualities of unity and humility. These need to be evident in any prayer before you begin a meeting. God is always present with us by his Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:20), but we need to be open and present to Him. It is always good to practice coming before God ahead of opening a meeting. Come before him to confess any resentment, to admit any insecurities, to lay down your agenda and allow the Holy Spirit to cover and lead you. A people group will follow in the footsteps of their leader. If you have ill feelings that are festering underneath the surface these things may well effect the people you are leading. Sometimes we need to open in prayer in a very honest and real way. Remember that God works through the vulnerable and the weak. Take time out before you lead to come honestly before God and pour out your sins to Him. Come to Him and receive His forgiveness and love.

So here’s a summary of these three thoughts – be present, allow God to still your heart and soul before you pray. Secondly, be prepared. Consider coming with something creative that will inspire people as they pray. And thirdly, be humble. God blesses the humble in spirit, it’s in the Beatitudes! (Matthew 5:5)

The most important thought I want to leave with you is this. Remember that you are unique and your relationship with God is unique. Therefore, what you bring when you open a meeting will be unique. Don’t try to be anybody else! Relax and just be you and let the Holy Spirit move through the unique you that you are. And until next time, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

p.s. If you need written prayers to say when opening a meeting, you may find this page useful.

Praying when Life is Desperate

Pen and ink painting by Julie Palmer of hooded figure

Today I want to ask a tough question. What happens when life throws us a curved ball and we find we can’t cope anymore? How do we find God, how do we connect with him, when life is desperate?

Firstly, if you are in this place my heart goes out to you. I truly believe that our heavenly Father responds directly to the distress of his children, so in an instant God is with you. He will understand by his Holy Spirit that your distress has frozen your responses, he does not need you to pray, but if you find the strength to cry out to him, he longs to listen. It breaks his heart to see you in such trauma, so much so that he has already covered and restored that very hurt, through the death and resurrection of his son Jesus. Always try to remember that God is outside our time frame, he sees the beginning and the end, he sees your future and inheritance in Christ and your place in eternity.

I can think of a few times in my life when I believe God has literally carried me through moments of extreme brokenness and suffering. He has, I believe, at these times held me together and taken all my weight upon himself to carry me. You may ask “how do I know Jesus carried me”?  because I am here writing this today. The Holy Spirit is at work in us, around us and ahead of us so no matter how dark life feels. The Lord of love, truth and hope is with us. I’m going to share with you three times in my life when I know this to have been true.

  • The first was a time of trauma suffered as a child. I did not pray, no one else knew to pray, so I just reacted and responded in a disjointed frozen way which became embedded in my soul.  Yet I can testify that the Holy Spirit led me through many dark times and placed so many people ahead of me that I eventually engaged in counselling and found freedom in my thirties. God uses us all to lead others through such darkness into light. I am so thankful for the faithfulness of those who helped me through this journey.
  • The second time was at the birth of my first child. Things were not going well for me or the baby during the labour and my husband and I were too distressed to pray. The Holy Spirit woke an old friend of mine at that precise time who did not know I was in labour and told her to pray. She prayed that I would have the strength to deliver the baby. I did, and he was OK, much to the surprise of the doctors and nurses.
  • Lastly, I had suffered a complication after childbirth that meant many years of pain, three procedures and one operation. I was anticipating a second operation hoping for healing, when I was prayed for by a gentle elderly lady at a church meeting and was healed instantly. I have had no pain for many years. I give this testimony tentatively as for six years I was prayed for but wasn’t healed. I know many of you will find yourselves in a similar place, but I can see the ways in which God saw me through that dark time. He will carry you, and we are told we should never stop asking for healing, and I trust you will know this hope.

By the grace of God, I pray that all those in a desperate place can feel loved and cared for by God, by friends and family and by their brothers and sisters in Christ. If you do feel alone in your suffering do seek out someone to speak with. Don’t suffer alone, the church is the very hands and feet of Jesus. Seek out the help you need. I thought I would share the following film “Tomorrow came”. It is my song of testimony that I wrote with my husband. There are times when we feel that tomorrow won’t come for us, but as you watch and draw near to God, as you seek out his people, there is new life and everlasting hope for you. I promise.

Thanks for connecting with us today at Prayerscapes. Do you have any encouraging stories of finding God in dark times? If so, please do write them down below. We’d love to hear them. And until next time, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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