As a Certified Lay Servant with the United Methodist Church I am honored to be able to lead the opening prayers and praise at Bethesda United Methodist Church in Asheville, North Carolina.
After welcoming the congregation, the first prayer is an invocation, meant to turn the service focus to God and invite the Holy Spirit to lead us. Many of the service prayers are found in other sources. However, it is difficult to find a good solid invocation. Plus, writing my own is a special experience. Preparing for the invocation involves the weekly scripture for the message, the the week’s lectionary scripture readings, the liturgical calendar, personal study and prayer.
The resulting prayers often don’t seem to make much sense on that Saturday evening. But the next morning I discover the message topic or other events form an unexpected match. Sometimes the invocation prayers are drawing in more arcane bits of theology that make them a bit daring.
But admittedly, the majority of the invocations are drawn from the scriptures directly, most often the Psalms. Overall, in the experience of writing these prayers, I’ve learned to have faith in the process and faith in the Holy Spirit that leads our services in love and grace.