Preparation to hear God's word, with a confession of sin, assurance of forgiveness, and praise

A song of praise to God as Creator and Redeemer is sung, or a song reminding everyone of the reason for gathering together.

Introduction:
We can approach God with our prayers and praises because the Lord Jesus has opened the way for us in his death and resurrection. We do so, however, as those who continue to sin, and need to seek God's forgiveness and help to serve him more faithfully. So, in the words of Hebrews 4:16, ‘Let us approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help us in our time of need.'

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
you are merciful and kind,
but we have gone our own way,
not loving you as we ought,
nor loving our neighbours as ourselves.
We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed
and in what we have failed to do.
We deserve your condemnation.
Father, forgive us.
Help us to love you and our neighbour,
and to live for your honour and glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Assurance of forgiveness:
God is slow to anger and full of compassion. He forgives all who humbly repent and trust in his Son as Saviour and Lord. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

A song of praise, thanking God for the Lord Jesus and his saving work.

Listening to the Bible being read, and responding with praise and a confession of faith

As we come to hear the Bible read and taught, lets ask God to give us understanding and the will to obey him:

We thank you, heavenly Father, for inspiring all Scripture by the Holy Spirit. Help us by your Spirit so to hear your holy word that we might be equipped for every good work, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Bible is read and taught. Perhaps a time of discussion and prayer could follow, based on the sermon.

A song reinforcing the message of the sermon is sung and/or a creed is said together, to affirm our common faith in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Prayer and thanksgiving. Intercessions may begin or end with the Lord's Prayer together.

This responsive form of thanksgiving may be used:

Gracious and generous God,
thank you for providing all our needs.
Make us truly grateful, Lord.
For families and friends,
we give you thanks.
For enjoyment of all that is good,
we give you thanks.
For the love of Jesus our Saviour,
we give you thanks.
For his life poured out in sacrifice for us,
we give you thanks.

Other thanksgivings may be added here.

Lord, keep us mindful of those in need,
that as we pray for them,
we may be generous to them,
as you are to us.
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
who alone gives us life eternal. Amen.

A concluding song encourages appropriate responses to the teaching conveyed in the service.

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Praise and thanksgiving, with a prayer in preparation for hearing God's word

Several songs may be linked together by appropriate comments, biblical verses or prayers from the leader. The aim is to focus attention on God's character and his will for us, preparing us to engage with him through the ministry of his word.

This thanksgiving or a suitable alternative may be said by the leader alone or by everyone together:

Almighty God, creator and redeemer,
we praise you for the beauty of the world around us,
and for every gift we enjoy.
Thank you for creating us
to know you, to love you and to obey you.
Most of all we praise you
for your amazing love
in sending your Son,
to restore your world,
by dying for us
and rising to give us new life.
Accept our praise and thanksgiving,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Bible warns us, ‘Today if you hear God's voice, do not harden your hearts' (Ps. 95:7). Lets pray that, as Scripture is read and its meaning is explained, our hearts would be softened and we would respond with faith and obedience:

Heavenly Father, give us faith to receive your word, understanding to know what it means, and the will to put it into practice; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Listening to the Bible being read, with a sermon either before or after a confession of faith

A song may be sung between the Bible readings or a portion of one of the Psalms said together, to enable a response to the first reading.

Another song or a confession of faith provides a means of responding to the sermon.

Confession of sin and assurance of forgiveness, followed by the Lord's Prayer, further petitions and thanksgiving

A call to confession:
God's kindness should lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Knowing his love and mercy in Jesus Christ, we need to confess our sins, seek his forgiveness, and ask for the renewing power of his Spirit in our lives (especially through the ministry of the word we have been challenged about . . .). Lets bring those concerns to God now as we pray together:

Heavenly Father,
you have loved us with an everlasting love,
but we have gone our own way,
and rejected your will for our lives.
We are sorry for our sins and turn away from them.
For the sake of your Son who died for us,
forgive us, cleanse us, and change us.
By your Holy Spirit, enable us to live for you,
and to please you in every way;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Assurance of forgiveness:
God pardons those who humbly repent and truly believe the gospel. Since Jesus died for us, we have peace with God, to whom be praise and honour for ever. Amen.

The Lord's Prayer introduces prayer and thanksgiving for various topics.

This concluding prayer could be used as a form of re-dedication:

Loving God, we thank you for hearing our prayers,
feeding us with your word,
and encouraging us in our meeting together.
Take us and use us
to love and serve you, and all people,
in the power of your Spirit
and in the name of your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


A final song picks up again the main emphases of the teaching given in the meeting.

Preparation to hear God's word, with praise and prayer

A song of praise followed by a song focussing on the reason for gathering together.

A prayer for careful attention to the reading and teaching of the Bible:
Thank you Father for making yourself known to us, showing us the way of salvation through faith in your Son. We ask you now to teach us through your word, so that we may be ready to serve you, for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Listening to the Bible being read and taught

A song may be sung between the Bible readings or a portion of one of the Psalms said together, to enable a response to the first reading.

Extended time of ministry in response to the reading and teaching of Scripture, involving prayer, praise and confession

Depending on the message preached, it may be appropriate to have several songs on the theme, leading into a time of prayer about the message.

Another alternative might be to have a time of questions to the preacher or discussion about the sermon in small groups, followed by prayer about the topic.

Another alternative might be to call people to repentance and rededication of their lives to God, using this or another form of confession:

Most merciful God,
we humbly admit that we need your help.
We confess that we have wandered from your way:
we have done wrong, and we have failed to do what is right.
You alone can save us.
Have mercy on us:
wipe out our sins and teach us to forgive others.
Bring forth in us the fruit of the Spirit
that we may live as disciples of Christ.
This we ask in the name of Jesus our Saviour. Amen.


If there is a confession of sins, it should be followed by some words of assurance from Scripture or a declaration like this:

Our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ gave himself for us
to redeem us from all wickedness
and to purify for himself are people that are his very own,
eager to do what is good.
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

A song of praise for our salvation in Christ should follow.

A time of general intercession might conclude with the Lord's Prayer or the following:
Lord Jesus Christ,
send us out with confidence in your word,
to tell the world of your saving acts,
and bring glory to your name. Amen.

Concluding song

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