Virtual Prayer?

In Uncategorizedby tfwm

The phone rings at 3:00 one afternoon. It’s a close friend who has just found himself in a critical situation and he needs immediate prayer support.

Instinctively, you drop to your knees in prayer. But, what next? Do you go down a list of friends, family, church members, enlisting them in prayer? You try, but more and more these days it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach people at the time that you need them most. Critical time is lost… or is it?

The ever-growing world of the “Web” is tying us all together in ways like never before. E-mail, one of the driving forces behind the rapid growth of the Internet, is becoming an every day part of life for many people around the world. This includes many churches and individuals in the Christian community. Now, Christians are not only “connected” with others within their own church or community, but with other Christians around the world.

So, what does this have to do with prayer? Well, it makes an awesome tool for promoting, encouraging and requesting it. Consider the prayer need outlined above, for example. Rather than spending precious time trying to contact individuals by phone, you can E-mail your church, friends and family. You’ll be able to reach many of them almost instantly and simultaneously.

Upon the receipt of the E-mail, the recipients will probably forward your E-mail on to others, and those people will forward it to others, and so on and so on. Suddenly, what started with a single E-mail to a few people in the church has turned into a ministry tool for God! Imagine the ability to incite a prayer circle which can span the globe in a little more than a moment’s notice!

“The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” —Luke 18:27

As with everything, God has provided us with the opportunity to take advantage of His technology to make the impossible possible through Him. We firmly believe that God has provided us with this technology to further His will and purpose.

The Internet is a great resource for finding information. We can find information on anything from Bible studies to sermon notes, spiritual guidance to churches, music to books, and many other resources. The question now is, how can we use this technology to assist churches, local prayer groups and individuals seeking prayer guidance?

When doing a search on one of the major Internet search engines, the word “church” returned almost 6 million links. While many of these are not necessarily churches, this gives you an idea of the widespread presence of churches and Christian sites that are available online.

These churches are of the many that have caught a glimpse of potential opportunities that the Internet presents them in their ministries to their local communities and throughout the world! Of these ministries, we are beginning to find one that stands out: PRAYER.

So, are we really talking about praying through the Internet; a virtual prayer? No. What we are talking about is using the technology that is readily available today.

Apply that technology to the churches, Christian sites and resources already available online. Then, provide a way for people to be able to share a prayer need, request or praise with their church, local prayer group or other prayer ministry groups. This is how we can make our churches and local prayer groups ready and alert to properly handle an urgent prayer need. Whether a church member, community member or an individual who just happened to stumble across your site made the request, this need may now be met in a way never before possible.

YES! God still answers prayer! He is still in the miracle business. Today, more than ever, we need God to be a part of our everyday lives. The scripture tells us,

“My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”
2 Chronicles 7:14 (The New American Standard Bible)

Let us strengthen these ties that bind us together as brothers and sisters in Christ. The Internet is a powerful tool, and in the hands of God, the possibilities are limitless. The countless lives that will be touched and saved are just beginning.

In 1 Thessalonians 5: 16; 18 Paul tells us, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I have a Web site. How do I apply this to my prayer ministry?

If you already have a Web site that is publicly available, you have the ability to turn it into a Prayer Ministry tool!

In most existing prayer groups or prayer rooms, prayer requests are recorded on index cards, phone message pads, answering machines and other methods. In many of the churches we have worked with, we integrated one additional gathering method: E-mail. We worked with their existing site and/or in the development of a new site to add a page for the submission of prayer requests. This can be set up for your site as well.

What’s involved and how much is it going to cost me?

A prayer request page can be as simple or as detailed as you want or need it to be. This helps in the situation where you may be bound by strict financial constraints or where your site manager(s) may not have the expertise to develop an elaborate design for the site.

For the simplest and most affordable way to get started, create a page on the site that briefly outlines your prayer ministry and how you will pray for the request once received. Then, provide a list of the information you wish to have included in the request and an E-mail link that will start a new E-mail message in the visitor’s default E-mail tool. From that point, each visitor to the site can just enter in their request, and send it directly to you or your prayer group.

For a more detailed and direct approach, you can set up a page with a blank form to be submitted. One advantage to this option is that you can drive the information you are looking for by providing fields for that particular information. You can insist that certain information be required, and make certain information optional. You can also provide various options for the type of request or praise.

In addition, you can set up the E-mail tool on the receiving end of these requests to look for particular pre-defined options in the message that could direct the E-mail to a particular individual, mailbox or prompt an automated response.

There are so many options available and so many ways the tool can be tailored to your needs and the environment in which your prayer ministry operates. The costs and expertise required in getting your ministry up and running online will vary with how detailed and functional you want the request process to be. This will also vary depending on the expertise and availability of your web management staff. There are several Christian Web Management and Consulting companies available for providing services to you in these and many other areas.

What are some other considerations?

Now you have a plan in mind for how to build your prayer ministry online, or already have one in place. What else may need to be considered in making the ministry a success? Some of the following questions need to be answered in order to smoothly and effectively complete this enhancement to your ministry.

o Who will receive the E-mail requests? One person or a group of prayer partners?
o How will the E-mail requests be received and where? On the individuals’ computers or on a “prayer room” computer?
o Who will be responsible for following up on the requests and how?
o Will there be an “around-the-clock” watch for requests and for praying for those requests?
o How will prayer partners be notified of the new requests? Forwarding the E-mail, printouts for the prayer room, etc?

As with all things new, getting your ministry running smoothly online will take some time and adjustments. But, the technology, expertise and the need are all there for this to become an awesome ministry opportunity. Will you take the step of faith that will allow God to work through the Internet to reach the people in our churches, communities and throughout the world?

People are in need and may not know where to begin. The Internet can provide the bridge allowing that first crucial step toward recognizing the power of prayer and the loving mercy and power of God.

We have been blessed to hear from some of the individuals who have come to accept Christ as their savior through various Web ministries. Simply having something online to lead and direct them in the way of God, and with the fact that God led these individuals to those sites is an awesome testament to the potential of what He can do through all of us. We have been given the minds, the means and the methods; let’s take our discipleship to the next level. Technology for Christ!