Prayer chains have been around for a long time and have taken on many forms. In the past, they usually consisted of pure phone calling with the “chain” starting off with one main contact person. That person would then call a few key contacts who then had a list of a few people to call. This method is much better than having a long list of people where each person has to call the next person on the list. Inevitably there is a missing link when someone cannot be reached by phone.
In today’s plugged in society, people may want to get email or a Facebook notification instead of phone calls. Before you rush to judgment about the impersonal touch, realize that there are many people who are much more easily reached via email and Facebook to their smart phones than by calling them on their home phone. Particularly for those working online or who have their cell phones on them at all times, this is actually a much more effective way of reaching them in an emergency situation.
Every church will be different in terms of the dynamics of the people in fellowship. The best prayer chain system will consider the absolute best way of getting in touch with everyone as quickly as possible. After all, the point is to pray as soon as possible right?
Here are a few thoughts that I have about prayer chains:
1. Have one key contact person. Everyone in your local church should be aware of who that main person is, and that person should be someone usually readily available to contact and get the ball rolling. It should be a person who can connect with people in multiple ways such as email, texting, phone calls, and possibly Facebook. When using Facebook for prayer chain purposes, the request should be made in your private group, tagging the individuals you would like to make sure see it. Private messages would be another option.
2. Keep the chain for important and imminent requests. Although all prayer requests are important, there are times when we can share items or requests via email to a few people that we know will pray. Consider the timing. Will you all be together that evening for prayer meeting? Then save the request until then unless it is an emergency. If you won’t be there, call someone to announce it there.
3. Try to keep it to items involving people known by those in fellowship, emergencies, or things that are very near and dear to your (collective) heart. Although it is important to pray for Joe’s mother’s cousin’s wife’s foot surgery, perhaps there is another more appropriate platform for sharing such requests. A few phone calls or emails to friends who you know are serious about prayer can be very effective.
4. If it’s something very serious, like someone passing away, make the extra effort to make sure there is a personal touch to your delivery of the message. Try not to leave a message on voice mail or to email these types of messages. An exception may be if it was very expected and imminent and everyone was waiting to hear the news.
5. Make sure you give updates now and then. If you ask everyone to pray and the prayer is answered or there is a turn of events, notify everyone so they know how to pray more intelligently.
6. Be encouraging. It is a privilege and a command to bear one another’s burdens. The news that you are delivering may not always be pleasant, but you should be. If you feel resentful in this position, give it to someone else. This is a service for our fellow believers and an important aspect of the functioning of the body of Christ.
In summary, there are many ways to pass on requests such as texting, social media, a prayer page on your website, an email list via email marketing (see Mail Chimp for a free account). Do a little research on what will work best for your prayer chain. Ask those in fellowship what works best for them.
As James 5:16 says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” NLT