5 Bible Verses for Opening Prayer
No matter how many times you've prayed on your own, it can still be intimidating to lead an opening prayer for a group of people. The thoughts may be clear in your mind, but they somehow get jumbled up as you try to put them into words. Don't worry, it's happened to the best of us – even seasoned pastors fumble when they don’t prepare their prayers beforehand.
Fortunately, you have your pick of Bible verses for the opening prayer options. Keep a couple of these verses handy, so you can pull them out of your pocket the next time you're leading an opening prayer in church or elsewhere.
Bible Verses for Opening Prayer
The Bible provides the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) as the perfect example of communicating with God. It starts with an exhortation, segues to seeking specific help, then ends with a plea for deliverance. We can also use this example for opening prayers, praising God, making requests, and acknowledging His sovereignty.
That said, you can always pray with your own words. After all, God wants us to be honest and approach Him just as we are. But if you want specific Bible verses to open the prayer with God’s powerful words, here are five options:
- A prayer of praise and worship: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” (1 Chronicles 16:8-11)
- A prayer on God’s faithfulness: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” (Psalm 27:1-3)
- A prayer for God’s protection and comfort: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4)
- A prayer to inspire doing the words of Christ: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
- A prayer to dedicate an occasion to God: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
We suggest you use these Bible verses only as an introduction to your prayer, then transition to using your own words. That way, your prayer will be specific to the situation, and those praying with you can relate and wholeheartedly follow you in speaking to God.
How Do You Start an Opening Prayer?
God wants us to talk to Him as we are – even when we’re unsure of where to begin. He wants to know our thoughts, feelings, and every detail of our lives that led us to communicate with Him.
Even if there isn't a hard-and-fast rule on starting a prayer, it always helps to have a template before you pray. That way, you're not too lost every time you approach the Lord, especially if you're a new believer or unfamiliar with the concept of prayer.
So, here are a few tips to start an opening prayer:
- Glorify His name: The Lord’s Prayer starts with Jesus praising God’s name. He says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10) He began with an exhortation to put the prayer in perspective, where God is worthy of all our praise.
- Acknowledge God’s power: Just like Samson’s prayer in Judges 16:28, you can start your prayer by reminding yourself of His sovereignty. Samson prayed, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more…”
- Focus on His perfect will: Most of us come to the Lord with a need, whether it’s more strength, guidance, or direction. But never forget that prayer is not more powerful than God – our trust is in the Person who hears, not the prayer itself. So, start your prayer by acknowledging His perfect will and your willingness to follow His plan, regardless of your wishes.
- Emphasize that He is our Savior: Lastly, you can start your opening prayer with Bible verses about being saved and gratitude for the opportunity to talk to God. After all, we wouldn't be able to speak with God without salvation and redemption from our sins.
In short, the key to starting a prayer is to remember who God is. Once you know who you’re talking to, the words will naturally flow out.
What to Say at the Beginning of a Prayer
How do you answer a phone call? Usually, we begin with a "hello" followed by the person's name. If we're answering a call from our mother, we'd say something like, "Hello mom!" We wouldn’t greet her by her first name because that's not who she is to us, even if it's her real name.
It's the same with prayers. Begin by "saying hello" to God, calling Him by His name. Since God has a lot of names, you can address Him according to who He is to you or who He is related to the purpose of your prayer. For example, if you're praying for healing, you can call Him "Jehovah Rapha," which means the Lord our Healer.
Here are a few ways to address God at the beginning of a prayer:
- “Abba,” which means Father (you can also say “Abba Father”)
- “Almighty God,” which emphasizes His power and greatness
- “Alpha and Omega,” which means the beginning and the end, focusing on His omnipresence
- “Christos,” which means the Anointed One, acknowledging that Jesus is God-sent
- “Heavenly Father,” which focuses on God being our eternal and spiritual Father
- “Jehovah Shalom,” which means the Lord is peace, bringing us comfort
- “Jehovah Tsidkenu,” which means the Lord our righteousness, emphasizing His holiness
You can also add a simple “dear” before addressing God as a term of endearment, in place of the casual “hello.” As always, what’s crucial is that you pay reverence to God, remembering that you’re approaching the throne of the Lord of Lords – not just your friend or coworker.
His ears are attentive to our prayers (1 Peter 3:12), so speak with Him with the highest level of respect.
Opening Our Hearts to God Through Prayer
Praying to God holds a great deal of power. Prayer is a gift Christ gave us, opening the way for us to communicate with God in our everyday lives, glorify God in everything we do, and strengthen our relationship with Him.
To quote Scripture, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) So, pray, and pray fervently. There’s no need to be scared or nervous when you have to lead an opening prayer – it’s just another opportunity to speak with your Heavenly Father.