Prayer is one of the most meaningful ministries we can offer to our parishioners during these challenging days. However, due to pandemic-related restrictions, we cannot gather together for large in-person prayer meetings. Let us not forsake praying together, though! We can create digital church experiences to pray for people in real time as our online services are going on.
Here are some ways we can prioritize prayer for our people as we step into 2021.
Pray for people in live chat. Creating connection during online streaming worship services is essential. Not only can the church’s online pastor or other volunteers accomplish that by interacting with online visitors through chat, but also by offering to pray for those who are participating in the discussion. People worshiping virtually with you have emotional and spiritual needs that require prayer coverage. Make an appeal for prayer requests and pray for or with people right there in the chat in real time. People will feel blessed by your prayer ministry to them in that very moment.
Text in prayer requests. Many of our church members are watching our online services on their phones. Why not offer a texting option for those with prayer requests? Suggest that people text “PRAYER” to your church’s assigned number and then pray for them and respond to them in a personalized return text message. This can open an opportunity for ministry either over text messages or in person as social distancing regulations allow. Some people enjoy texting and this could lead to a lot of interactions that may not happen in other ways.
Offer a prayer phone line. Phoning in prayer requests is a practice that has been around for decades. Now’s the time to bring it back into fashion. The pandemic has brought widespread loneliness. People need personal connection more than ever before. Our online digital church experiences are perfect opportunities to meet the needs for connection and companionship our church members have at this unprecedented time in history. Offer a phone number staffed by the online pastor or reliable and relatable church volunteer that people can use to phone in for prayer. People can call in during online services or after the services are over. This ministry can be remarkably meaningful for those who need to talk and spend time praying together with a real, live human being. This also allows time for some counseling if needed and appropriate.
Video Call Meetings for Prayer. There are times when the best option is a face-to-face meeting. In these days of COVID-19 and social distancing, in-person meetings may not be possible. Video calls, however, can help meet the need for ‘face time” when people cannot be together. Online pastors can offer video call appointments for those for whom this will be particularly meaningful. This can be offered during online worship services (using separate video call platforms) or after services conclude. These interactions will allow for personal connection, prayer time together, and counseling if needed and appropriate. Video has been a true blessing for so many people during this time of extreme isolation. Churches today can use video technology to have live prayer for people who cannot join in person.
People need prayer. Now. As church leaders, let’s pray for our people in creative ways that are in parallel to our digital church experiences.