Originally posted on Just Call Me Pastor:

It is customary throughout Protestantism to include a pastoral prayer in the Sunday worship service. In this, the pastor draws together the concerns of the gathered community and offers them up to God. It is a priestly function.

My hunch is that in many cases the pastoral prayer is the least prepared part of the service, perhaps because its importance is not grasped by pastor or people. Or the pastor may consider the prayer a spontaneous act of worship and pre-planning might limit the moving of the Spirit.

In reality, the pastoral prayer serves two functions that counter the danger of formality: Since all worshipers cannot individually offer the prayers of the worshiping body, the pastor is expected to gather up those concerns and — serving as the body’s representative — offers them before God. The caring pastor should know better than anyone else what the needs and aspirations of…

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