Shaping the Prayers of the People
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More About This Title Shaping the Prayers of the People


This book offers a model of profound and accessible congregational prayer. At once inspirational and practical, it will empower and equip laypeople and clergy alike to offer heartfelt, informed, and appropriate prayers on behalf of the people of God. As Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher say, "Interceding in public worship is a duty. This book is intended to make it a joy."

Shaping the Prayers of the People begins by considering what public prayer is and offering practical guidelines for avoiding common pitfalls. It explores prayer as an integral part of worship and discusses the language we need (and don't need) to address God. Significantly, the book also provides an array of example prayers along with commentary.


Samuel Wells, formerly Dean of Duke Chapel, is now Vicarof St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, and VisitingProfessor of Christian Ethics at King's College London. Hisprevious books include Be Not Afraid: Facing Fear withFaith and Power and Passion: Six Characters inSearch of Resurrection.


Anglican Theological Review
"Clergy and laity alike will find this slim volume useful."

Thomas G. Long
—Candler School of Theology
"At a time when much prayer in worship is actually something less than prayer - an elongation of the sermon, an 'infomercial' for God, or even the parish announcements spoken in hushed tones - Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher have given us this fine book on public prayer that is really prayer. They teach us how to fashion intercessions that are faithful, careful, creative, and beautiful. Every worship leader needs to read this volume."

Eugene H. Peterson
—Regent College
"In our American culture where prayer is relentlessly individualized, Wells and Kocher gather us into a community understood comprehensively — public worship that takes seriously and devoutly both congregation and world. They pull us out of our private isolation into something large where God is working largely — and all of this written in prose that is both accurate and alive."

William H. Willimon
—Duke Divinity School
"We do not become or remain Christian without the practice of prayer. . . . In joining Christ in his intercession for the world we boldly expose our needs and the world's hurt to the will of God. We demonstrate our faith that God not only cares but acts; we rise up against injustice and dare to stand at the intersection of human need and divine compassion. Wells and Kocher are faithful guides through the risky practice of intercessory prayer. Their book gets to the heart of the Christian faith in its bold claim that as we shape our prayers, our prayers shape us. Here is a very helpful, practical, vibrantly theological book."

Walter Brueggemann
—Columbia Theological Seminary
"This compelling study will be of immense importance to anyone who must pray in public. Wells and Kocher connect faith claims to life by attention to crafted, lyrical rhetoric — a powerful antidote to too much public prayer that is domesticated, predictable, and rote."

John D. Witvliet
—Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
"In the past generation, congregations have given renewed attention to many aspects of worship — preaching, music, the Lord's supper, and visual arts and media. Public prayer is, in too many cases, a notable exception. This wise and winsome volume promises to remedy that, leading congregations to become more intentional and faithful in shaping prayers that aspire to match the breadth and depth of God's redemptive activity."

Worship Leader
"For all who want to understand and implement prayer in the church, this is a significant resource. . . . Wells and Kocher ignite our imagination and infuse our hearts with joy at the idea of intercessory prayer, replacing what for many worshipers is confusion and/or a sense of unenthusiastic duty. . . . Add this to your collection of lifelong keepers."

Presbyterian Outlook
"Few things are worse than rants disguised as prayers or homiletic postscripts sneakily added to the pastoral prayer or political posturing with heads bowed. The authors, both of whom regularly lead worship, guide readers away from such common errors. . . . Here is theology carefully and practically laid out in ways that will deepen the congregations who are blessed by leaders who pray well."

CBA Retailers & Resources
"Recommend to prayer leaders and pastors."

Sharing the Practice
"This book is a marvelous tool for the pastor or worship leader to examine his/her approach to public prayers and discover ways to enrich and refine the art of public praying. It shows the importance of careful preparation and the appropriate focus for public prayers. . . . Any minister who desires to improve his or her public prayers will find in this book a pathway to public prayer that can be transforming."