The formal name for the prayers that follow the Creed is “the Prayers of Intercession.” This portion of our worship is based on St Paul’s instruction to his friend Timothy; “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way [1 Tim 2:1-2].
The place where this prayer happens is not accidental and points to two specific things. First, it happens after the lessons and the sermon. The things we hear – in the words of the Bible and the instruction in the sermon – regarding God’s hopes and dreams for the world and for people are to be reflected in our prayers. While this prayer includes intimate things; requests for healing, thanksgivings for good things and the like, it is also a prayer for the world, for our place in that world and for all people. Second, at times when a baptism takes place is immediately before this prayer. The first thing a the baptized people of God participate in are the prayers of intercession.
A few things to note about the form of this prayer is specific. The opening words, “Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs” reminds us of the two great concerns of this prayer; the church and the world. The way each petition, or section, ends, with the words “Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer” is to remind us of the prayers to God at the beginning of our worship in the Kyrie. And the concluding words, “Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray,” recalls Jesus’s prayer on the cross [Luke 23:46], while the final words, “trusting in your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord” reminds us of 2 Corinthians 3:4 and Psalm 52:8.