The Prayers of the People are normally the longest prayer in a regular Sunday service. Like all prayers, it is an act of worship in which the worshipers speak to God. The Prayers of the People generally consist of 4 parts, although in no particular order: a) a part in which prayers are offered in connection with the theme of the sermon or of the season, b) a part in which prayers are offered for the pastoral needs of the congregation, family members, etc., c) a part in which prayers are offered for the church and its ministry (the congregation, particular mission workers or projects, and/or the church as a whole), and d) a part in which prayers are offered for the situations in the surrounding community, the country, and/or the world at large.
In other congregations this prayer is called by a variety of names, among others the “Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession”, and the “Pastoral Prayer”. The word “intercession” comes from “intercede”, which means to make a request in someone else’s behalf.
In this prayer, as in all prayers, it’s important to think not only of what we ourselves want, but also of what God wants; otherwise prayers can easily become self-centered “wish lists”.