"... in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6).
"What? You pray again after the offering? Why are there so many prayers during your worship service?"
That's what visitors (and perhaps some regular attenders!) may think during the morning worship service. We have silent prayer before worship; then we have prayer at the beginning of worship; then there is a prayer of confession of sin. Now, after the offering, there's another prayer. Why are there so many prayers during a worship service?
Part of the answer is that Jesus says that his housethat is, the place where he is worshipedwill be called a house of prayer (Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). If there is not an emphasis on prayer in Christian worship, then something is amiss.
Another reason why prayer occurs throughout a service is to preserve the "dialogue" pattern of worship. Remember that, in corporate worship, God speaks and we respond as a congregation. Prayer is part of our speaking to God when we gather as a church. While the giving of tithes and offerings is part of our response to God's goodness in promising us his forgiveness and grace, this response of action (i.e., giving of tithes and offerings) is properly coupled with words that are appropriate to that action. It is fitting that we ask the Lord to use these gifts in the best way for the extension of his kingdom and his glory on earth by the proclamation of the gospel. (This is also a way to remind ourselves of what is most important in the world!)
But the most important reason for having prayer at this point in worship is simply to thank the Lord for what he has given us. It may seem strange to thank the Lord after we have given gifts to him. But that is not strange at all, given the fact that we would have nothing to give if God had not given us things to give (see 1 Cor. 4:7)! Indeed, thankfulness is one of the most significant parts of true prayer and true worship. In a state of sin, people are not thankful to God (see Rom. 1:21). People brought into a state of saving grace are thankful for everything (see 1 Thess. 5:18). Given that, perhaps we ought to ask why so little time is spent in thanksgiving when we worship the Lord.
The author is pastor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Franklin Square, New York. He quotes the NKJV. Reprinted from New Horizons, August 2007. First article in series. Index.