In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches the people how to pray. Those of us who pray this way, know firsthand the power of prayer, and since we know it, we want to use this power to help others in need.
Why a prayer chain?
Prayer Chains, as you already know, satisfy our human need to connect with and intercede on each other’s behalf before God. They also amplify the power of the prayer according to Matthew 18:20 which says: “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.“
A common problem of Prayer Chains is information distortion
One of the members of our PastorsLine community, Chad Germany of Ask4Nations talked to us about this issue. Chad shared: “Prayer Chains are a tremendous ministry, but they tend to function more like a really bad game of telephone, with the information being terribly distorted by the time it gets to the end of the line.”
Technology can solve this problem
Chad’s ministry set up a Prayer Chain using the Cloud-Based Text Messaging platform, PastorsLine. As Chad explains it, their thinking was that “using PastorsLine would ensure that people get accurate and appropriate prayer info in a timely manner and allow the Church staff to control the communication and respond appropriately to any questions. More prayer. Less confusion.”
How to set up a Prayer Chain
Step 1: Who is going to receive prayer requests?
This is going to be the person (or team) that receives the prayer requests and sends out the email, text, or voice prayer alerts. Keep in mind that your coordinator or team needs to be available at a moment’s notice to get critical prayer alerts out quickly.
Option #1: Appoint a single coordinator
One coordinator receives all the prayer requests on a number. It may be the pastor or head elder.
Ideally, there should be one number for all prayer requests that are different from your other communication numbers. With a system like Pastorsline, you can set up multiple numbers.
Option #2: Create a team with a team coordinator for sensitive prayer requests
One coordinator receives all the requests and then shares them with a small prayer team. Using a mass calling and texting service such as PastorsLine, set up a group (Prayer Warriors or Prayer Team). This will make it easy for the coordinator to send out a group text as needed.
This case is more to handle sensitive prayer requests or for additional consistent prayers which is different from your public or open prayer chain. Also, some churches may elect to not have a public option as described in Step 2.
Option #3: Create a prayer request management team
For larger churches or multi campuses, it may be more efficient to set up a coordinated team. If you choose to use a team, you can use a church messaging app such as PastorsLine to help you get organized.
Your management team would be a group. The entire team can receive incoming requests immediately.
With PastorsLine, you can set up a specific number for prayers then assign users to that specific number.
Based on their settings, they can get notified via text, push notes, or email when each request comes in. And if they want to see all, they can log in to their account or view it on the mobile app. With our filtering system, you can filter out all messages sent via that number.
Group members will also be able to use PastorsLine to communicate with one another and send out the prayer requests as needed.
No matter which option you choose, establish some protocols if they are not already in place. Here are a few suggestions:
- Discretion is key—Decide when and how much personal information is to be passed along. Also, keep prayer alerts on a “need to know” basis.
- Respect boundaries—1. It can be disrespectful to go back to the requester and ask for more information. This could make them feel as if you are invading their privacy. + 2. Unless it is an emergency, pass on prayer requests during usual waking hours.
- Alerts should be short and simple—Every person has their own prayer style. Too much information can prevent prayers from being natural and authentic.
- Share praise—Reporting on how prayers have helped keeps people motivated to continue.
- Prayer warriors need prayers, too.—If you are a team, communicate with each other, sharing updates about your lives. Pray for all the team members on a regular basis.
Many churches would be ok with just using a small group of people to receive and carry out all prayer requests. So their prayer chain would look like Step 1: Option 2 above.
In other words, your prayer chain may just be a hand-picked group of people who form a team or ministry. However, if you want to create an open prayer chain, you would continue to Step 2.
Step 2: Create your Prayer Chain.
This step is about who is going to pray on behalf of those who have requested prayer.
Do you have a list of prayer warriors or people who love to pray already? Begin by contacting them. If you are using a mass calling and texting service such as PastorsLine, this will be easy to do by sending them a personalized message.
Does your church communication system offer keywords? You can use them to segment your group. Chad explains why below.
Reflecting on his experience, Chad shared: “Younger users want text. The elderly want a voice message. It would probably be good to create separate Keywords to create two separate groups, or create a follow-up question that allows people to specify what sort of prayer alert they prefer to receive.”
He suggested that it might be more effective to “create separate Keywords to create two separate groups, or create a follow-up question that allows people to specify what sort of prayer alert they prefer to receive.”
Create a text message or email along the lines of:
“Dear [First Name]. We are setting up a digital prayer chain. Are you in? Which type of prayer alerts would you prefer to receive? For text alerts,text PRAYTEXT to 888-777-****. For voice alerts text PRAYVOICE to 888-777-****. ~Pastor John”
Now, send this message to your contact list.
Now, give your entire church members the opportunity to opt into the prayer chain. One excellent opportunity to do this is during your weekend church service.
Option 1: Below is a slightly modified form of the text/email from above. Make a [PPT] slide and post it on a screen.
We are setting up a digital prayer chain. Are you in? Which type of prayer alerts would you prefer to receive? For text alerts,text PRAYTEXT to 888-777-****. For voice alerts text PRAYVOICE to 888-777-****. ~Pastor John
Option 2: Use one of our free templates at https://pastorsline.com/free and complete it with your information. Remember to tell your audience about the difference between the two keywords, i.e. choosing the type of prayer alert the team member wants to receive.
You can also put this information on your church website and in your church bulletin.
Step 3: Sending Prayer Chain guidelines.
Set up a few basic, but important ground rules to keep things on track. Consider the following:
- Be discrete—Prayer alerts are for prayer chain members only. They are not information to be shared in general.
- Pray often but authentically—Offer your prayers as frequently as you can but only when the Spirit speaks to you.
- Include yourself—Everyone benefits from prayer, especially when they are trying to help others.
Want to create a church prayer chain or next level the one(s) you already have?