In general, I would answer, “Definitely!” My only hesitation is that I have too often seen prayer requests and prayer time poorly handled. Indulge me a moment to tell this story about a positive way I have seen them handled:
Over the years I have listened to quite a bit of contemporary Christian radio. One of my favorite disk jockeys in Bowling Green had regular prayer times during his shift. He would usually precede that prayer time by asking listeners to call or e-mail prayer requests. Then when it came time to pray, he never read the list. He simply prayed it. Not only is it shorter, it prevents added details and gossip.
Could this work in Sunday School? Yes, but we might have to submit requests differently. Instead of verbal requests, why can’t we ask for them to be written? Why can’t we pray for them at the end while someone pulls all the requests into one list? Couldn’t those requests be e-mailed to attenders?
I have written on the subject of prayer many times and even on the subject of prayer requests before (check out Could Too Much Prayer Time Be an Obstacle for Revolutionary Adult Classes? and Don’t Just ASK Your Sunday School Class to Pray, TEACH Them to DO It, Part 2). But I want to encourage you to read a great blog post by Leslie Maddox, author of the Sunday School Blog. Her post is entitled, Making Prayer Requests Part of Your Class. Allow me to share a section of her post about the BENEFITS of taking prayer requests:
Class members feel like someone cares for them. Not everyone has someone to pray for them. As a matter of fact, there may be some class members that don’t know another believer outside of your small group. This is especially an issue in single adult classes.
Class leadership has the opportunity to serve through prayer. Scripture encourages us to pray for each other. Praying for members of the class is a good way to live out Scripture rather than just study it.
Praying for each other builds community. It’s an opportunity for us to be vulnerable and open up to the group, even if in a small way. Our vulnerability invites friendship. If this is done well, the Sunday School or small group environment can be a major factor in our growth, spiritual and otherwise.
After sharing these benefits, Maddox shares some negatives about sharing prayer requests and then closes by offering three helpful methods:
- take requests at the end of class;
- take written, not verbal, requests; and
- send requests out by e-mail.
There is just something special about having a friend pray out loud with you for needs you have shared. But let’s continue to look for creative ways to make our time of prayer requests and prayer even more powerful and effective. Be revolutionary!