Prayer is our way of communicating with God. It's a way to praise Him, ask for guidance, lift up our burdens, and rest in His promises. But, it's also a way to invite God into our midst. Matthew 18:20 says: "Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." This is the power of praying with others.
God calls us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), "seek His face always" (1 Chronicles 16:11), and "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" (Ephesians 6:18a).
Many choir directors open and/or close their rehearsals with a short prayer each week. This is an active way to invite God into the work we do and lift up specific joys and concerns shared by the group. Not only does this help focus the hearts and minds of those present on the meaning of what we do, I believe it also helps build community among choir members.
Coming together in prayer each week helps unite us and draw us closer to one another as we draw close to God.
How to Pray
There's no right or wrong way to pray. Some pray as if they're talking to a friend - simple and casual; others pray more formal prayers, based on tradition and liturgy. Like public speaking, praying may come easier to some than others, but contrary to popular opinion, you do not need to be ordained to pray with a group.
Anyone can pray, just as anyone can praise or give thanks. "In a group, the prayer of one person becomes the prayer of every person" (source). What a privilege and honor it is to lead others into God's presence through prayer.
For many, prayer is a combination of several different things: giving thanks and praise, praying for others, lifting up concerns, and asking for peace, guidance, or blessing. If you're new to praying aloud in a group setting, you might consider using these categories as a rough outline or structure for the prayer you offer.
Here are a few more details and examples:
“Lord, thank you for all the good things in our lives and all the good gifts You give us."
Thank God for the gift of music, for songs and hymns and anthems and the opportunity to sing together. Thank Him for the good things in our lives, for seasons and beauty and new life and His presence among us. Thank Him for your choir members and the gifts they bring each week.
Pray for Others
“We lift up our church, our community, and the world and ask for wisdom and guidance and peace.”
Pray for your church, your community, and the world. Lift up those in positions of leadership and ask for wisdom and guidance. Lift up those who are less fortunate, those who are without food or shelter and ask for comfort and protection and provision. Pray for peace. As Paul wrote, "Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people" (Ephesians 6:18b).
Lift Up Concerns
“Lord, we lift up those who are in need: those who are hurting, those who are struggling, those who are in need of hope."
Lift up friends and family who need healing or guidance or strength; those who are sick, those who are struggling, those who are grieving; those who feel lost and alone, unloved, or without hope; those who are afraid. Pray for healing. Ask God to meet them where they are, guide them, shine light into their lives, bring them hope and love.
"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." - Jeremiah 29:12
Pray for Worship
“We pray for all who will gather for worship this Sunday: prepare our hearts and minds to meet You, sing Your praises, and hear Your voice."
Pray for the hearts of those in leadership and the hearts of those who will come, that we might honor and glorify God and that He would use us as His instruments of joy and peace and love in the world. Lift up your music - that God would take your voices and use them for His glory and speak through you that others might hear His voice.
"We praise You, O God, and worship You with all that we are."
Worship Him with gladness and joy. Praise Him for His faithfulness, His love, His mercy, and His grace. Praise Him for the good work He is doing in each of us. Claim His promises and quote Scripture. For instance, "Lord, we know Your plans are to prosper, not harm us; to give us a hope and a future."
A few final thoughts
Speak from your heart. If you feel comfortable, this is probably the most authentic and sincere prayer you can offer and you'll be able to incorporate any specific prayer requests that come up at rehearsal.
Write your prayers. If you'd rather not pray on the spot every week, consider writing out a brief prayer before rehearsal or share a prayer written by someone else (here is a free collection of choir prayers). See this post for a few more ideas and resources.
Keep it simple. Remember, it doesn't need to be long or poetic or perfectly polished. As Martin Luther once said, "The fewer the words the better the prayer."