Written by Jolene DeHeer, Classis Prayer Coordinator
If COVID has shown us anything, it has shown us the need we have to live in community and to feel connected within our personal families as well as our church families. I am excited to share with you a way God has blessed our church to strengthen those connections through prayer.
We have an intercessory prayer team that meets twice a month to pray for individuals, families, church ministries, missions, other Classis churches, and world needs. While all the aspects of the intercessory prayer time are powerful and effective, the one that has helped our large congregation feel more connected and cared for is praying for families.
When we were just beginning to meet as a prayer team, one of our members suggested using the church directory and praying specifically for ten families for the two weeks between our meetings. So, I decided to let those ten families know we were praying for them. I send them an email (or a phone call if no email is available) letting them know they are being prayed over and asking if they had any specific prayer requests, I can share with the rest of the team. I assure them that the only people who will see the requests are our pastors and the prayer team who will all keep the information confidential.
What happened when we started this prayer practice caught us by surprise. We didn’t expect the large number of responses from people with some of the most tender requests…requests they would never allow in the bulletin or perhaps hesitate to talk to someone about in person. The pastors are learning about needs they would not have heard about before, so they are better equipped to help meet those needs. The people overwhelmingly express gratitude for knowing they aren’t alone and that others are walking with them through tough times. They are also able to share joys we might never have heard about and now we can join them in praise and thanksgiving to God.
As soon as I get a request from someone, I forward it on to the pastors and the prayer team and I also send church member a prayer (or pray on the phone with them if the request comes in that way). I want them to know they are heard that their request is precious to us, and that we are honored to be able to stand in the gap for them. Sending them prayers has had another blessing of connection we did not anticipate. People often express that they print off the prayer and share it with other family members who also feel cared for. Our congregation members are feeling that the are authentically cared for and enfolded by their church family through this prayer ministry. They feel supported, encouraged, and many have found renewed hope.
My prayer is that your congregation can find connection and unity through the gift of praying for each other. May prayer be one of the ways your congregation obeys the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”