Why Establish a Prayer Chain

Why Establish a Prayer Chain
By Marnie Swedberg

Prayer needs to be at the heart of every personal and women’s ministry, and a prayer chain is a fantastic way to encourage and motivate personal and corporate prayer. A Prayer Chain helps to develop body life, to bring prayer needs to mind through out the days and weeks, and to promote praise in worship as the group of pray-ers sees answers to their prayers.

General Instruction

Prayer chains are ideal for urgent requests that are both short-term and definite in nature. The goal will be to provide immediate prayer cover – instead of requiring the party to wait for an official prayer service.

Types of Prayer Chains

1. Email. By far the easiest to run, an email chain has many advantages including instant access, no answering machines or endless rings, no chance of gossip and ease-of-updates. Requirements: Publicize the prayer chain and include a sign-up sheet to request prayer and one to be a pray-er. Enrollment: A sign-up sheet with spaces for the person’s name and email address.

2. Telephone – Structured. The second easiest to run, a structured telephone chain allows participants to register for limited service. Each chain (within the larger whole) operates only on certain days or at certain times of day. Other rules may also apply, such as, “You must share the request and then hang up promptly, make the next call, and then pray on your own.” These highly structured chains increase the flow-through while reducing the chance of participants missing out on calls.

Requirements: Publicize the prayer chain and include three sign-up sheets: one to request prayer, a second to be a pray-er, and a third to be a prayer chain captain (see description below).

Enrollment: There should be spaces for the person’s name, telephone number and days and/or times of days they would be available. The prayer chain coordinator would then assemble people with like-scheduling requirements into one chain and assign a captain. Upon receiving a request, the coordinator would call the captains who would in turn start their own chain(s) at the appropriate times.

3. Telephone – Open. This chain is started each time a call comes in, morning, noon or night, any day of the week and provides the pray-ers with the option of praying together on the phone before calling-on the requests. It provides instant prayer coverage and increased interaction among the pray-ers, but has the potential of burning out its participants as they face longer phone conversations and the potential of multiple no-answers or answering machines per request.

Requirements: Publicize the prayer chain and include three sign-up sheets: one to request prayer, a second to be a pray-er, and a third to be a prayer chain captain (see description below).

Enrollment: There should be spaces for the person’s name and telephone number. The prayer chain coordinator would create chains of 10 or less and assign a captain to each. Upon receiving a request, the coordinator would call the captains who would in turn start their own chain(s).

Staffing for ALL Types of Prayer Chains

Could be organized by one person and empowered by many pray-ers.

1. Coordinator. One person should be selected to be “in charge” of the program. She may take on one or more of the other leadership roles or simply oversee them. This task is handled either by the church secretary or by any individual who is a) responsible, b) available, c) articulate and d) willing to post their telephone number and/or email address to the public for this reason. She would promote the new endeavor, collect names and contact information of potential pray-ers, and then keep this data current from year to year.

2. Chain Captain(s). Required only with phone chains, the Coordinator calls each captain upon receiving a new request. Captains then start their own chain or chains.

3. Pray-ers. There could be countless pray-ers on a single email chain, but a telephone chain should consist of no more than 10 pray-ers per chain, each with their own captain.

Responsibilities of the Coordinator

1. Create a notebook that you will use as your prayer-chain journal.

2. Enter each request including date, time, person calling, their contact number and the precise request. When answers to prayers are phoned/emailed in, be sure to add them to your journal — and then pass them along to the captains.

3. When receiving a call, remember to be gentle and encouraging. The caller may be under extreme stress. Ask only questions that will help you reduce the context of the request to one, clearly stated sentence which may be passed along to pray-ers.

4. Before hanging up, request that the caller, “call again” when they have an update to share.

5. When writing out requests, before starting the chains, reduce the information to one sentence. It is not necessary to go into detail about relations, specific medical terminology and so on. The goal is to give enough information so they can pray intelligently.

6. Other than those who are participating with you in prayer on the chain, keep all information completely confidential.

Responsibilities of the Captains & Pray-ers

1. Create a notebook that you will use as your prayer-chain journal.

2. Enter each request including the date and precise request. When answers to prayers are phoned/emailed in, be sure to add them to your journal — and then pass them along to the next prayer as quickly as possible.

3. When receiving and passing along a request, remember to repeat the request word-for-word, making no comment about the request other than what is being passed through the line. There is a great potential for gossip and miss-understandings… be careful!

4. Be content with the details you are given. The goal is to provide you with enough information to pray intelligently – not to solve, dissect or discuss the situation with anyone except God.

5. Other than those who are participating with you in prayer on the chain, keep all information completely confidential.

Cautions with a Prayer Chain

A poorly run chain could lead to gossip, hurt feelings or worse! It is critical that you explain and insist on the privacy and protection of those who call in requests. Should it ever come to your attention that someone on a chain is gossiping or in some other way offending the integrity of the chain, gently apply Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.”

Excerpted from : Gifts of Encouragement, Inc. By Marnie Swedberg

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

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