How to Write a Prayer of Invocation

by Molly Thompson - Updated August 21, 2018
Senior woman with hands clasped, holding rosary, mid section, close-up of hands

Invocation prayers are common openings for a range of events, including church services and meetings, Scout ceremonies, military promotions and retirements, and gatherings of civic or business organizations. An invocation is designed to set the tone for an event and to invoke the presence of God or another higher power during the proceedings. An invocation in a faith-based setting typically calls on God, Jesus or another religious entity, while an invocation to a secular or mixed group will studiously avoid praying to any specific deity.

Tailor your invocation to your target audience. A prayer of invocation for a church or faith-based gathering will necessarily be somewhat different than one for a secular or business event. While the first type can include specific references to a shared God or faith, the latter should avoid such references and instead call for items such as "the greater good," the strength, prosperity and well-being of the organization or country, and the abilities and safety of the organization's members. For mixed-faith gatherings, consider a phrase such as "Lord of the Universe" to open your invocation; non-denominational Rotary groups often use this opening, for example.

Begin with an opening line of address to your god or higher power. For a religious gathering, this might include a call on God for his blessings on the group as it meets to conduct its business. For a business event, in which members may represent a variety of faiths, you might start with a phrase such as "To all those gathered here, we ask for strength and wisdom as we conduct our business today." Organizations such as Toastmasters International and Rotary clubs often include the Pledge of Allegiance or a non-religious inspirational quote or thought from a famous speaker.

Include four or five sentences following your opening specific to the event at hand: An invocation at a graduation ceremony might include thanks to a higher power for the achievements of the graduates and prayers that their futures be prosperous, for example. At a large business gathering, an invocation would call for for blessings on the event's participants to conduct themselves with wisdom and discernment. An invocation at a church gathering or service would call upon God to be with the participants and inform their thinking and actions, along with expressing gratitude for blessings the group has received.

Keep your invocation short and concise. In most settings, this will mean a one- or two-minute address. Write out your thoughts beforehand and practice running through your invocation several times to time it and so you are comfortable with it when actually presenting it. Ask a friend or colleague to listen and observe during these practice sessions and to provide constructive criticism or comments designed to improve your presentation. Write down your final version and be sure you are very familiar with it before presentation time.

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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