Personal Ways to Pray During a Church Service

There's a lot of greeting, singing and reading in some churches. If you'd like to add a few more prayers to your personal worship, here are some suggestions.

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Posted in , Oct 4, 2018

Praying in church

Sometimes there is so much going on at church, I don’t get to pray as much I’d like.

This may be hard to believe, but when you consider everything that’s happening in a service, it’s understandable. We greet one another. We sing (and, to be fair, many songs and hymns are prayers). We listen. We read. And we may join in a short “opening prayer” and “closing prayer” (or “benediction”). Of course, different denominations have their own approach to prayer, and worship in one of the more liturgical traditions (Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, etc.) may include more prayer. 

Still, I, for one, would like the opportunity to pray more. But it’s possible to make “church” more prayerful, even if you’re not the pastor, using the 15 prayers of ancient Israel that are commonly called “Psalms of Ascent” or “Songs of Degrees.”

Many scholars think that Psalms 120–134 in the Bible (or 119–133 in some versions) were sung by ancient worshippers as they ascended to the Jerusalem Temple to worship. They are also helpful to any modern worshipers, and especially those of us who long to include more prayer in our worship experience. With that in mind, here are excerpts from each of the Psalms of Ascent. They can be prayed before leaving the house for church. They can be read by passengers in the car on the way to church. They can be prayed silently while waiting for the service to start. They can be offered all at once or prayed one each week—perhaps even while ascending the steps, like ancient worshipers, to the church entrance: 

I took my troubles to the Lord;
    I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.
Rescue me, O Lord, from liars
    and from all deceitful people (Psalm 120:1-2, NLT).

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV).

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord"....
[I] go up...to praise the name of the Lord (Psalm 122:1, 4, NIV).

I lift up my eyes to you,
    to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
    as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    till he shows us his mercy (Psalm 123:1-2, NIV).

Praise be to the Lord [that]....
We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 124:6-8, NIV).

Lord, do good to those who are good,
    to those who are upright in heart (Psalm 125:4, NIV).

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    as streams renew the desert (Psalm 126:4, NLT).

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain (Psalm 127:1, NIV).

How joyful are those who fear the Lord—
    all who follow his ways! (Psalm 128:1, NLT).

The Lord is righteous;
    he has cut the cords of the wicked (Psalm 129:4, ESV).

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning (Psalm 130:5-6, NIV).

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content (Psalm 131:1-2, NIV).

Let us go to his dwelling place,
    let us worship at his footstool (Psalm 132:7, NIV).

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1, NIV). 

Tags: Church,Prayer
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