Missy was the class prayer leader for the Next Stage of Joy (Empty Nesters) class in our church. Each week she took pride in asking for prayer requests at the beginning of the class and then leading us in a guided prayer for these people. Before long, 20 minutes of the class time was being taken just for gathering names and praying, and Missy realized that was taking too much of the Bible study time away from John, our teacher. So, she decided to find some creative ways to gather the names of the people for which we needed to pray.
First, Missy handed out a list each week on a clipboard and asked people to add any names and reasons for their addition to the prayer list. (Missy was very sensitive to the fact that not everyone wanted the details of their health condition or special requests made known to everyone. So she encouraged people to be sensitive as they wrote reasons down. She urged people to share a reason without breaking anyone’s confidence or violate the HEPA laws. Yes, she had to explain the HEPA laws several times.) Then, she took that list and made copies for everyone in the class. At the end, she called attention to the names and encouraged people to pray for these people throughout the week. Missy now had the challenge of keeping the choir members up to date with these requests. The choir members would leave about five minutes before the class was over. And of course, she always hoped John left her at least a few minutes. Prayer seemed very rushed.
After an emphasis on prayer in the church body, she developed a bulletin board in the room that was called our “Prayer Board.” On the board, she divided the board into seven days of the week. And for each day of the week, she had headings — Monday – Family/Church Health Concerns, Tuesday – Outreach Opportunities/Ministry Projects, Wednesday – Pastor and Staff and Teacher, Thursday – Missionaries, Friday – Witnessing Opportunities, Saturday – College Students/Children/Grandchildren. She developed a pocket of index cards that she kept on the bulletin board. As people walked in, she would always ask people to update the board with requests under each category. People would then fill out the index card and place the name or situation under each category. As she began, almost everything listed was under Family/Church Health Concerns, but after about three months, people had placed needs under every category. Each week, she would make sure she took a picture of the board and sent it to every person by email or postal mail. People could use it as part of their prayer time each day.
Someone also taught Missy how to use the computer to keep an updated prayer list. She was very nervous about this one because of security issues. Still, she finally got to the point where she created a Facebook group that she designated as a secret group. With all the security settings checked off to make sure only people in the class could be members of the group, she encouraged people to share prayer requests through the Facebook group. Then each day, she posted a prayer that acknowledged the particular needs of the day. Missy learned how to post a Facebook Live video of the prayer requests and created a template that people could record their answers to prayer. People were slow to use the group at first, but now the group creates lively discussions of prayer needs for health, job, family, witnessing opportunities, leaders, and other areas. Each Sunday, Missy points people to the Facebook group for prayer requests and prayer time. John now even has more time to lead the Bible study, and people are still encouraged and held up in prayer.
Missy says she continues to find new ways to keep up with prayer requests and opportunities. One of the things we in the class know is that Missy will keep prayer before us. We lift up each other, the church, and our mission opportunities all the time!
Written by Ken Kessler, Coaching Network Director/Northern Seminary Liaison, Baptist General Association of Virginia