By Yeow Chin Kiong
The closing prayer ought to be one of gratitude to God for the session of assembled worship about to be concluded. As for supplication, it is appropriate to request for the Father’s care upon brethren and guests alike for the rest of the days ahead until,- if it is His will,- the brethren are assembled again. Request, too, that the non-Christians in the midst of the assembly might have opportunity to consider the message of salvation as it applies to each of them personally.
As in the opening prayer, only the most urgent prayers for individuals mentioned by name should be included in the closing prayer. And, also as in the opening prayer, it would be good to be guided by a written prayer prepared beforehand, avoiding the awkwardness of forgetfulness while leading the assembly in prayer.
Scripture Reading before the Sermon
In many congregations, the delivery of the Sunday sermon is preceded by a reading of a portion of scripture. The passage on a particular Lord’s Day may be one of a series of on-going readings from entire books of the Bible or a portion of a book (like Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 to 7). Or, the verses read might be directly related to the sermon topic. It is useful to those assembled,- especially non-Christians and visiting brethren,- for the scripture reader to mention which it is,- a scheduled reading or a passage which introduces the sermon.
As with all quoting of the text of God’s word from the pulpit, the scriptures should be read correctly and clearly, and not rushed through. As in the leading of prayers, a hurried reading from the pulpit gives the impression that the reader just wants to get it over with. Whatever its length, every passage of scripture is a serious communication from God which must be handled aright (2 Timothy 2:15) and delivered respectfully.
Read from the Bible version which the entire congregation has agreed to use, so that the brethren can read along with you. It is customary to mention the scripture reference (the book, chapter and verse) before beginning the reading of the text. It may be necessary to repeat mentioning the reference if it appears that some of the assembly are having a problem turning to the text.
If the text relates to the sermon-topic, some words of introduction to the passage and its connection to the sermon may be useful, especially if the passage is one not often used or studied (such as verses from the historical books of the Old Testaments or verses which mention less familiar persons or places). Avoid, however, spending an inordinate amount of time explaining the background to the text; that is the job of the preacher.
If the scripture reading is of a lengthy, multi-versed passage, it makes for smooth, uninterrupted readingif no reference is made to the verse number intermittently. Clear reading makes it easy for the brethren to follow through a passage whatever its length.