Traditional Morning and Evening Prayer broadly follows this pattern:

  1. Preparation to hear God's word, with a confession of sin, assurance of forgiveness, and praise;
  2. Hearing God's word, with praise interspersed;
  3. Responding with a confession of faith, prayer and thanksgiving.

As suggested in New Patterns for Worship, this block structure can also be represented in a more expanded form as a conversation between God and the congregation. God speaks to us through his word in various ways, and we respond with prayer, praise, faith and obedience:

God speaks We speak
Scripture sentence (focussing on why we gather) Introductory praise
Scripture sentence and exhortation Prayer of confession
Scripture sentence and declaration of forgiveness Praise for forgiveness
Old Testament reading Praise (perhaps a psalm)
New Testament reading and sermon Confession of faith
Prayer and thanksgiving
Scripture sentence (focussing on going out to serve) Concluding praise

Whatever the theme or emphasis of a particular service, this order can help us engage with God in a meaningful way and be renewed as disciples of Christ. A 'conversational' pattern involves the whole congregation in the encounter. The central section focuses on the need to hear Scripture afresh, and to respond with faith and obedience. The conclusion enables us to bring to God our own concerns and the needs of the world, as we prepare to go out and serve him in everyday life.

New versions of this order

Modern versions of this traditional order follow the same broad outline, but include helpful modifications. For example, 'Prayer, Praise and Proclamation' (Form 1) and 'Prayer, Praise and Proclamation' (Form 3) in Sunday Services (2001), provide:

  • a brief introductory exhortation
  • new forms of confession and assurance of forgiveness
  • prayers before the reading of Scripture, to highlight the importance of what follows
  • guidance about suitable places to insert songs or hymns
  • the suggestion that the sermon should follow the readings or come immediately after the creed.

A range of alternatives is provided in the Resource Section to insert at key points in this order, providing flexibility and variety within a recognised framework. Local creativity can flourish, while unifying features may help to bind congregations more closely together in their pattern of corporate worship.

A second order

'Prayer, Praise and Proclamation' (Form 2) in Sunday Services recognises that confession of sin and assurance of forgiveness may sometimes be more appropriate after the ministry of the word, and as a preliminary to prayers of intercession and thanksgiving. As a consequence, the praise introduction becomes an important means of expressing why we gather and on what basis we can come to God. This needs to be particularly well planned, and include more than a collection of favourite songs!

The pattern of this order is:

  1. Praise and thanksgiving, with a prayer in preparation for hearing God's word;
  2. Listening to the Bible being read, with a sermon either before or after a confession of faith;
  3. Confession of sin and assurance of forgiveness, followed by the Lord's Prayer, further petitions and thanksgiving.

Other features such as a collection, notices, testimony, or time for mutual ministry, will need to be factored into these outlines. If a baptism is included, or if the Lord's Supper is to follow, some shortening of the service may be necessary. Particular care will be needed with the selection of hymns or songs, to provide appropriate continuity and flow to the service.

Other possible orders

Another variation might be:

  1. A block of praise, followed by a time of sharing and prayer for one another;
  2. A time of listening to the Bible being read, taught and discussed;
  3. Concluding prayer and praise, in response to the ministry of the word, with a focus on putting it into practice in everyday life.

It might also be possible to follow the outline of a particular Bible passage in constructing a service. The passage could be chosen because of its thematic or seasonal relevance, and verses could be read out progressively to introduce a different phase or focus in the service.

For example, at an Easter celebration, 1 Peter 1 might provide the following structure:

  1. Opening praise for the resurrection of Jesus and its consequences (vv. 3-5);
  2. Prayer for those who are suffering or struggling to be faithful (vv. 6-9),
  3. A sermon on salvation in Jesus and its implications (vv. 10-21);
  4. A final challenge to love and faithfulness through prayer and praise (vv. 22-25).

At a Christmas gathering, John 1 could form the basis for this structure:

  1. Praise for the fulfilment of God's plan in the coming of 'the light', with a confession about a world still being in rebellion (vv. 1-13);
  2. Sermon about the incarnation and its implications (vv. 14-18);
  3. Praise for Jesus being 'the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world', who also baptizes with the Holy Spirit (vv. 19-34);
  4. Challenge to discipleship with appropriate prayers and praises (vv. 35-51).

Resources are listed in the sequence in which they might be chosen to fit the pattern of the First Order outlined above. When the Second Order or some other structure is being followed, the same resources can be inserted at different places. Some of these resources can also be inserted in the various orders for the Lord's Supper. Click on the headings to see the resources available and some suggestions for their use.

  1. Greetings other introductions
  2. Seasonal sentences
  3. Opening prayers and praises
  4. Invitations to confess sin
  5. General confessions
  6. Assurances of forgiveness
  7. Prayers in preparation for the ministry of God's Word
  8. Scriptural expressions of praise
  9. Creeds and other affirmations of faith
  10. Intercessory prayers
  11. Thanksgivings
  12. Concluding prayers and blessings

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