The Act of Prayer

Praying through the Lectionary

John Birch

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The Act of Prayer is a comprehensive volume of contemporary prayers based around themes arising from the Common Worship Lectionary, the three year cycle of Bible readings followed by many churches. Each set of prayers comprises an opening petition plus prayers of adoration, confession and thanksgiving for each of the Sundays in the church calendar plus extra festival days. Designed to resource and inspire people leading prayer in church services, this imaginative book is particularly suitable for any who are taking first steps into this ministry, as well as those looking for original prayer material to use in small group settings.

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Author info

John Birch is a Methodist Local Preacher living in South Wales. He is an experienced writer of devotional and Bible study material for a number of online and print publications and is also webmaster for, a prayer resource with a worldwide audience


The subtitle of this book 'praying through the lectionary' gives an indication of its aim and use. For each Sunday of years A, B, and C, there are four types of prayer based on the well-known mnemonic ACT, adoration, confession and thanksgiving; there is also the inclusion of an opening prayer.

John Birch is a Methodist local preacher and clearly writes prayers for preaching services. However, the book will be of use to Anglican readers, worship leaders and clergy, providing themed prayers to fit in with the readings; we share the same lectionary. Much to be welcomed are prayers of adoration and thanksgiving, which can be neglected in Services of the Word, Family Services and other non-Eucharistic worship.

The opening prayers vary in size and shape, some closer to traditional collect form and others further away. This might limit their use when the Common Worship rubrics suggest that a collect may be written on the biblical lessons. For Anglican use the confessions are interesting but slightly more complex in that, Common Worship gives a large variety of confessions to the worship leader but not a complete freedom to write their own. However, it would be possible to use part of the confessions and add to them a kyrie form.

The prayers are thoughtfully constructed and I'm sure would be of value to many. This is a helpful collection of lectionary-based prayers and contributes to the wider discussion about the way we pray in our worship.

Rev'd Dr Phillip Tovey, Deputy Warden of Readers, Diocese Oxford.

The challenge of leading worship through the year is not just to preach the word but also to lead people in prayer, and in such a way that word and prayer combine to deepen the spiritual lives of all those seeking to live out the Gospel story. As each new Sunday comes round, this can appear a daunting challenge but John Birch's new book, The Act of Prayer, offers a rich resource to encourage preachers and worship leaders in this crucial task. In it John brings all his gifts as an experienced preacher, as an author and compiler of prayers (both in books and on his website and as a poet, to produce this comprehensive collection to resource and guide those leading worship. It follows the 3 year Common Worship lectionary and offers an Opening prayer, then a prayer of Adoration, Confession and Thanksgiving for each Sunday. The language used is simple, yet clear and profound, and what I find particularly helpful is that each set of prayers can stand on their own - or provide a springboard to enable the worship leader to adapt or expand as the Spirit leads. So while aimed particularly at those taking first steps into this ministry, it seems to me that experienced preachers too will find much in here to enrich their worship. I warmly commend John Birch's 'The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary' and trust that it will prove an inspirational resource for all those called to lead people in prayer.

Revd. Dr. Stephen Wigley, Chair of the Wales Synod of the Methodist Church

Book details

  • ISBN: 9781841016191
  • Published: 24 October 2014
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
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