Extending Prayer

Extending Prayer

Sample sign you can customize
for your setting.

As the Coronavirus advances, our hearts go out to friends, neighbors, and loved ones who are seeking comfort.  Social media posts make us more aware of individuals who are in need.  How can the church respond with compassion? 

Let your friends and neighbors know that “We are a praying community, and we believe that prayer has the power to heal and bring comfort.”  As the old hymn What a Friend We have in Jesus reminds us, God is our refuge: 

Are we weak and heavy laden, 
Cumbered with a load of care? 
Precious Savior, still our refuge,  
Take it to the Lord in prayer! 

Our Southern New England UCC congregations have a gift to share with the community.  There are folks who are alone, struggling, or despairing and we can help ease the burden. 
 

What resources are available: 

  • This page (also available here as a PDF ), which will help you think through what is needed to extend your prayer ministry beyond the local congregation. 

As you get started: 

You will need to think through these basic components (listed below) and how to deploy them in your context.  More detail is in the sections following. 

Let your neighbors know the church is ready to pray 

On Social Media, we see strangers asking for prayers for their beloved family members and friends.  Our communities are practiced in prayer.  People need to know we are ready. Often, we respond to a post by sharing a sympathetic emoji adding our immediate response.  Suppose we were intentional about collecting the prayers and bringing them before a wider group of faithful pray-ers? 

  • Ask members to reach out to the folks they intersect with on social media when they see or hear of needs. It can be a simple question. “There is a group of people at my church who pray regularly - would you like them to pray for your concern?”    

  • Post a yard sign to let folks know about your prayer ministry.  Go to our template page

  • Post some social media graphics to inform people about your prayer ministry.  Go to our template page

  • Post some social media memes to pray for particular groups such as health professionals.
     

Collect prayer requests 

You will need some intentional way of collecting the prayer requests and getting them to your pray-ers.  Some options might be: 

  • Use a dedicated email address, phone number, Twitter handle or part of a Facebook page.  (Adapt your current system for taking prayer requests to make it more accessible to the public.) 

  • Invite prayer requests on social media and make sure there is a volunteer dedicated to keeping track of them. 

  • Invite one person to collect prayer requests by text message.  You might want to set up a dedicated number for this. 

  • Use your website to collect prayer requests. 
    Many website tools - such as WordPress, Weebly and Wix - have built-in tools to plug forms into your website. Another tool is Google Forms, which can take results from a public form and save them to a Google Doc which can then be shared with your prayer team.  Here is an example of a church using a Google Form to collect prayer requests. 

Prepare a Team of Pray-ers 

If you don’t already have one, assemble a prayer team.  This could be the Pastor and Deacons, a prayer shawl group, a care team, or lay leaders who commit to this ministry. This is an opportunity to invite members who are interested to grow in their own spiritual practice of praying. 

You may wish to set up an initial online meeting or conference call to discuss how prayers will be received and offered.  You might also consider various models of praying (all at the same time?  In a Zoom room? Dividing the list? Everyone praying the whole list?). 

Equip people to pray 

  • You may wish to set up a simple training program to equip people to pray. Remind your congregants that there are many ways to pray— singing, journaling, coloring, spending time in silence, and even walking. 

  • You may wish to establish a regular meeting, either in order to pray together, or in order to support each other, adjust the program, and learn from one another. 

  • Here is a suggested script to use
    PDF version
    Word version

  • Share a first name, a situation, or a place that needs prayer. Remember to respect privacy and confidentiality. Assure the person you are praying for that only first names will be posted. 
     

Make the prayer practice visible

  • Announce your intended practice to the wider community.  Write an article for the local media outlet. Share a link back to a space that describes what you will do and how you will do it. 

  • Make a dedicated prayer time and publicize it.  For example, “our prayer team prays every morning at 10 AM.” 

  • If you choose to use Facebook Live or to record a meeting, please be very sure that you are praying only in generalities.  Please refer to this excellent video.   Start about 2:15 in to see the section on prayer. 

  • Post on social media when prayers are done:  ie “this morning we prayed for Mary, Juan and Calvin.”  

  • Invite others from the community to join in the prayer practice. 
     

Circle back 

  • If the person bidding prayers left a way to communicate back, let them know that the prayer happened and when it happened.  

  • Make a point to check back in a week or two to see how the person is doing. 

  • If you have an address, send a note or card.   

  • If it seems appropriate, send a prayer shawl or meal. 

  • Invite that person to join you for worship, either online or in your sanctuary in the future. 


Resource the community to pray 

  • Post a prayer, scripture reading, or other inspirational piece that would be helpful for those who would like to pray. (This is also a good way to make your practice visible.)  

  • Write short pieces on the practice of prayer. 

  • Give testimonials about what it feels like to pray for others. This could be done as a series of posts on your church Facebook page or group or as a meme also. 

 

Celebrate and invite others to join 

  • Share “testimonials” of those who have been prayed for.  These should be posted on the church’s web page, not individual members profiles, though an individual’s profile post can point others to the church page. ie: “My community did this today- link” 

  • Use the numbers:  We’ve prayed for 103 people this week, 40 from the congregation, 63 from the community. 

  • Give small gifts to the prayer team. 

  • Write an article for your local media outlet on your prayer ministry.  This might also be suggested to announce to the community the church will be doing this prior to starting the practice. See above  


We know that our churches are praying communities and that much of this care happens informally.  Even so, imagine the impact on a community when invitation and intention are released. 

What a friend we have in Jesus, 
All our sins and griefs to bear! 
What a privilege to carry 
Everything to God in prayer! 
Oh what peace we often forfeit,  
Oh what needless pain we bear,  
All because we do not carry, 
Every- thing to God in prayer. 

Have we trials and temptations 
Is there trouble any where? 
We should never be discouraged 
Take it to the Lord in prayer! 
Can we find a friend so faithful? 
Who will all our sorrows share? 
Jesus knows our every weakness 
Take it to the Lord in prayer. 

Are we weak and heavy laden, 
Cumbered with a load of care? 
Precious Savior, still our refuge,  
Take it to the Lord in prayer! 
Do they friends despise forsake thee? 
Take it to the Lord in prayer! 
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee,  
Thou wilt find a solace there. 

 

These resources were developed by Suzi Townsley, Heather Ramsey-Mabrouk, Debby Kirk, Karen Ziel and Tiffany Vail

 

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