A prayer chain is a network of individuals who will receive prayer requests and thanksgivings, forward them to the next available person in the network, and will pray immediately for each request.
Prayer Chain Leadership:
A key to a successful prayer chain is a leader who has a heart for prayer, has the ability to organize the network, provide annual training for prayer chain participants, support and encourage those who serve in this ministry, processes the prayer requests and recruits new participants. Organizational and people-skills are important for this leadership position. This person is accountable to the pastor and/or a coordinator of prayer ministry. The prayer chain is the joy and responsibility of the prayer chain leader. Occasionally, this may mean the need to prune the network if a participant leaks confidential prayer information or does not forward prayer requests (in other words, makes the prayer chain ineffective for others in the network). Such pruning must be done in consultation with the pastor.
The prayer chain is the spiritual alarm system which communicates and takes prayerful action on the needs of the congregation, community and global needs. This network of people who are committed to prayer take action on behalf of the congregation on Jesus’ words to “ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened,” (Matthew 7:7). The importance of the prayer chain is that it faithfully intercedes on behalf of others in need by lifting up specific requests, concerns and emergency situations.
One of the metaphors used in the New Testament for the Church is that it is the body of Christ. Jesus is described as being the head of the body. The prayer ministry of the congregation, which includes the prayer chain, is the circulation system of the body. It is a prayerful network which communicates with the head and the whole body feeding it with needed nutrients, activating the power to fight external viruses and bacteria, and bringing healing by bathing wounds and infections with the prayerful commitment of white blood cells. Blood is a good analogy because prayer for others is a gift given expecting nothing personally in return. This is matched by the importance of blood in both the Hebrew scriptures as well as the New Testament as a sacrificial gift.
The prayer chain is the life-blood of the congregation! Oftentimes, because this work is behind the scenes, the prayer chain, like our blood, is taken for granted and forgotten. It is not until you have some hurts or needs that you remember and are thankful for the prayer chain. The chain participants can become anemic due to inactivity, lack of spiritual attention, and by coming under spiritual attack. Chains that have been in existence for longer periods of time or are in a congregation that has much transient activity may need new prayer chain participant transfusions.
A) Receiving Prayer Requests:
It is important to be prepared to receive prayer requests if your phone number is one of those listed to be contacted for prayer. All that is needed is a paper and pen to record the request or thanksgiving as it is given to you. It is a good idea to read back what you have written for the sake of accuracy before you conclude the phone call. A prayer form could also be developed and distributed to the prayer chain in a three-ring binder for the ease of prayer:
Date Name Prayer Request Answers
2/21 Marge her hip replacement surgery on Mon.
3/1 Bob his interview-that he will get the job praise God-yes X
In receiving a request for prayer from the individual who desires prayer, thank them for calling, write down the request, read it back for accuracy, and then ask if they desire you to pray for them right now. If not, thank them again for calling and ask if they would please update you on the situation including answered prayer so that you will know that you can thank God and stop the request. If yes, ask them if they would mind sharing their first name, if you do not already know it, and pray briefly for their request.
Immediately call the next available person in the network. If the name listed next is not home and there is voice mail or an answering machine, do not leave the request due to confidentiality but ask them to call you for prayer chain information. There may be people on your chain without answering machines. In that instance, as best as possible, try and get back to them later that day with the requests. Continue calling until you make contact with someone who is home.
Finally, pray! It is important to establish the discipline of praying immediately upon receiving notification from the chain. If you are called while entertaining company, for instance, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom and pray. You do not need to sit down and close your eyes to pray. If you were just leaving to pick up your child from school, drive and pray – with your eyes open! Be creative and make a way to honor the discipline to pray immediately.
Keep in mind that prayer requests are to be kept confidential. If you cannot honor that, be sensitive to the hurts and misunderstanding that broken trust in a congregation can cause and step down before the chain captain needs to ask you to step down. If your spouse is not on the prayer chain, do not share the information with him or her. Though you may think that you are sharing this information so that they can pray, it is still GOSSIP. “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips,” (Psalm 141:3).
A) 9-5 Prayer Chain. For those who are available during the day time.
B) After 5 p.m. Prayer Chain. For those available during the evening hours.
C) Hour Glass Prayer Team. Chains that are reliant on numerous people in the structure to make phone contacts increases the likelihood of break-down. Imagine the sand passing through a smaller hole and spreading out into the width of the hour glass. That is the idea here, of a smaller group of people responsible to make all the phone contacts. A reasonable number of calls is four. Four callers can have a team totaling sixteen. Five callers are needed for a team of twenty.
Other Considerations. Emergency or crisis prayer chains. Membership prayer chain to pray through consistently the names and known concerns of the membership. Community-based prayer chain which is intentionally made public so that it is easily available for all people in the community. Ecumenical prayer chain that interlinks with other denominational or non-denominational prayer chains.