What’s Missing in Worship? An Effective Pastoral Prayer

The Pastoral Prayer is that moment during a worship service when the pastor leads his people before the throne of grace. In modern times, it may be one of the most least planned and therefore, the most haphazard part of a worship service, if it happens at all.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones typically led his congregation each Lord’s Day in a Pastoral Prayer that would span 10 to 12 MINUTES. I recently analyzed one of these prayers of “The Doctor” to determine what elements should be included and prioritized when pastor’s lead their congregations in prayer.

What characterized the public Lord’s Day prayers of Martyn Lloyd-Jones?

MLJ’s Pastoral Prayer consisted of a Call to Prayer, an Address to God, the Prayer itself (consisting in this particular prayer of eight parts or specific focuses), a frequently used “transitional phrase,” and the conclusion.

MLJ’s Pastoral Prayers were fundamentally God-focused. Even in those parts where he is petitioning God on behalf of the people, he is pointing the people to the holiness and absolute power of God, to God’s purposes in their suffering, and in doing so is demonstrating the humility with which we must approach the throne of grace in our public prayers on behalf of His people. God is at the center, not the needs of the people.

MLJ’s Pastoral Prayers were an appeal to God to break out with His Holy Spirit to illumine the mind and move the heart of God’s people, and to call unbelievers to willingly place faith in the Lord Jesus.

MLJ’s Pastoral Prayers were an acknowledgment of God’s absolute sovereignty over the nations of the world and their leaders, and an appeal for the speedy return of Jesus Christ to take his place as rightful Sovereign over the nations.

MLJ’s Pastoral Prayers were a compassionate appeal to God to show mercy on His own who were suffering and on those not His own, that they might come to see Him in the beauty of His holiness and to willingly call upon the Lord Jesus as Savior.

You can listen to MLJ’s Pastoral Prayer here:

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Analysis of MLJ’s Pastoral Prayer:

The Call to Prayer: Let us all pray.

The Address: Almighty and Ever Blessed God, our Heavenly Father.

The Prayer:

Thanksgiving for the mercy and grace of God which makes possible our coming into the presence of a holy God on the merit of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

“We thank Thee that we are able to come up into Thy house in this way and manner, to worship Thee and to sing Thy praise. O God, we are conscious more than ever that we are here because of Thy grace and kindness and compassion. We realize that Thou art the high and lofty one that inhabitest eternity, and whose name is holy and that we are here on earth encompassed about with so many frailties and weaknesses and yet, O Lord, we come before Thee and we realize that we have access into Thy holy presence by the Son of Thy love, our blessed Lord and Savior. And here we come, O Lord, to acknowledge Him and to acknowledge that it is by Him alone that we enjoy this access.”

Entreaty for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit for the enlightening of the mind  and for the heart to be moved to apprehend the things of God, specifically what God has done for us and made possible for us through Jesus Christ.

“We therefore do indeed pray Thee urgently that by Thy Spirit Thou wouldest bring these things to us with power and with authority, with great assurance and certainty that we may rejoice in them as we ought.”

Thankfulness for the church of Jesus Christ and all believers (“all Thy people everywhere”) around the world and the unity we share in Christ, but also in our universal sinfulness – yet one in a common salvation and the acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

Entreaty for the kingdom of Christ to come and the extension of Christ’s kingdom in the world.

Thankfulness that God has made His people the custodians and guardians of the message of the gospel.

A plea that God’s people might be lights in the world in the midst of sin and evil, holding out hope to men and women, and to be enabled to do so with new joy, new power, and new conviction.

A plea for mercy and compassion and pity on the world in its sin, in its blindness, and in its shame.

“O God, wilt Thou not speak to men and women, we humbly pray thee, showing them the way of restoration and renewal, the way of life, the way of peace, and the way of glory.”

“O God, we ask therefore that Thy church may be endued with unusual power, that the Son of Thy love may be held up in His beauty and in His glory, and many may come willingly unto Him to give themselves unto Him.”

Transitional Phrase: “Lord, hear us, in this our prayer.”

Petitions for the nations of the world:

Thanksgiving for God’s goodness on the country (the UK) and the peace it enjoys. The peace and safety the nation and people enjoy.

Petition and appeal for mercy upon the persecuted believers in other countries.

“O Lord, wilt Thou especially speak unto them, and gladden their hearts with the knowledge that they are in Thy hands, and that though the worst may be done by man unto them, that it will but mean their translation to be with Christ, which is far better.”

For emerging nations which are newly come into a position of independence and power, that believers in these nations might utilize their liberty for the spread of Christ’s kingdom.

For all in authority and power in the nations of the world.

Transitional Phrase: “O God, hear us, in this our prayer, and in the name of Thy dear Son.”

Petition for revival and an outpouring of the Spirit on God’s Church, the operation of the Spirit in might and power to produce unity in the Church.

Thanksgiving for the promise of the blessed hope and an appeal for the speedy return of Christ and the application of His rule and reign throughout the world.

Petitions for those who are in special need of our prayers, who may be lonely, the aged and infirm, ill, some desperately ill, and those who are dear to them, those who are sick in mind, the bereaved and the sorrowing and the lonely.

“O God, we pray Thee to keep Thy hand upon them. With Thee all things are possible, and we pray Thee therefore to exert and to show forth Thy power and Thy glory.”

“Be with those who are dear to those who are ill and keep them from anxious care and grant them peace and rest and quiet.”

“We pray for those who may be saddened for various reasons, that this joy of the Lord and this salvation may become their portion. O God, we thank Thee that Thou art able to enable Thy people to rejoice even in the midst of tribulations. We thank Thee for the power of Him who has vanquished our every enemy and can give us a joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

Conclusion: “Hear us O Lord in these our prayers. Receive them, we pray Thee, in pardon, and forgive us the unworthiness of our prayers and our every sin, as we ask it all, pleading nothing but the name and the merit of Thy dear Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

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