Why Do We Do That? – The Prayer of Invocation
Taken with permission from Christ Church Presbyterian, Evans, GA.
With the Call to Worship, a Biblical dialogue between God and His people begins and continues throughout the service of worship. The Prayer of Invocation is whereby God’s people respond to His call by imploring Him to assist us as we worship. In this way we acknowledge our inability to offer acceptable worship in our own strength, and claim the promise that by His Spirit where two or three are gathered together Christ will be present also (Matthew 18:20).
While the exact contents of the Invocation have varied through the centuries, The Westminster “Directory for the Public Worship of God” (1644) still stands us in good stead as a benchmark:
“The congregation being assembled; the Minister, after solemn calling on them to the worshiping of the great name of God, is to begin with Prayer; In all reverence and Humility acknowledging the incomprehensible Greatness and Majesty of the Lord, (in whose presence they do then in a special manner appear) and their own vileness and unworthiness to approach so near him; with their utter inability of themselves, to so great a Work: And humbly beseeching him for Pardon, Assistance, and Acceptance in the whole Service then to be performed; and for a Blessing on that particular portion of his Word then to be read: and all, in the Name and Mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
But we should keep in mind that the pastor or elder who prayers isn’t someone we hire to do our praying for us! It is our responsibility to pray with him as he leads us, and to fervently add our “amen” to his prayers throughout the service.