How to Start a Prayer Chain
Prayer chains transcend religions, nationalities, and ethnicities. They originated as a result of the belief in the power of unified prayer and continue to bring comfort to many. If you wish to do the same for yourself or others, knowing how to start a prayer chain is important.
Your aim probably isn’t a 100-year prayer meeting like the one conducted by the Moravians in 1727. It also doesn’t have to be over 57,000 prayers on post-its. Australian youth pastors made this feat famous as the longest prayer chain in 2018. It can be as simple as using modern technology to bring a group of people together for a common cause.
A prayer chain can provide comfort, support, and encouragement to someone in need. Yours can too. You might have a general idea of what a prayer chain is, but you may still be uncertain about what it truly entails. This article can bring more clarity. It also provides a guide on how to start a prayer chain.
What is a Prayer Chain?
A prayer chain often consists of a group of people. They’re usually from the same church, community, or other affiliated groups. They’re brought together by a common cause. This is typically someone in need of healing, upliftment, or comfort. Together, the group offers prayers for the person in need.
Many believe prayer can be the catalyst that makes the impossible possible. The concept of a prayer chain takes this a step further. The belief is that prayer done in unison can be even more powerful than a “lone voice in the wilderness”.
This is quite possibly attributed to the bible verse in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 18, Verses 15 – 20 which states:
“Where Two or Three are Gathered in My Name, I Am in Their Midst.”
It is one of many prayer chain bible verses. They’re referred to in this way because they stress the significance of praying in numbers. A few others include Mark, Chapter 11, Verse 24:
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
The assumption is that “You” in this passage is plural, as in, “My children”.
Another verse is James, Chapter 5, Verses 14 – 16:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”
These are a few of many bible verses championing the power of prayer, especially within a group. These references often lead to the assumption that prayer chains are biblical.
Are Prayer Chains Biblical?
These verses from the bible allude to strength in numbers when praying. However, despite this, there is no reference in the bible to prayer chains. A church prayer chain may be common. But prayer chains aren’t limited to particular sects or denominations.
Prayer chains often focus on the betterment of a person or situation. It’s an act of positivity. It doesn’t require participants to be from a specific religion or have certain beliefs.
It’s why they have been and continue to be universal. There are prayer chains around the world. Often, one prayer chain may include participants across the globe.
Reasons Someone Might Start a Prayer Chain
You can start a prayer chain for yourself or someone else. It could be for a family member in need, a colleague, or someone you don’t know well.
Praying for a stranger isn’t as odd as it may seem. You may receive a prayer chain request despite not knowing the person you’re praying for. It’s the reason why people believe prayer chains are so powerful. They can extend to many people in various locations.
Maybe you heard about a situation a stranger is going through? You may think your only means of assisting them is through prayer.
Prayers can target a specific need, or they can be general. The focus of many prayer chains often falls within one of the following categories:
- Prayer chain for healing – either physical or emotional or both
- A need to increase spirituality or faith
- A way of providing hope for others, especially in a tumultuous environment
- To strengthen a relationship or mend a broken one
- In the hope of financial blessings
- To bring a group closer together
Prayer chains can often promote a sense of solidarity as it gives participants a common goal. This is even more so when the goal is to eliminate something considered a common enemy. Past wars and more recent ones have been the focus of prayer chains. There were also quite a few during the onset and worst of the pandemic.
Prayer Chain Examples
There are various examples of prayer chains. Most will state the type of prayers needed and the person requiring prayers. Some may go on to indicate the reason for the prayers.
These requests can be in different forms, including a prayer card. This allows you to submit a card with the information above to a group or organization. There are also online versions of prayer cards.
Other groups will encourage prayer at a specific location. Doing so allows them to create a display of a physical prayer chain.
Some prayer chains request participants to pray wherever they are at the same time on a specific day. The request might even specify which prayers participants say during the allotted time.
Prayer chains may also set a specific length of time for participation. This can range from an hour to many days of prayer.
Uncertain which version you should use? You can start by selecting an online prayer chain template.
How to Start a Prayer Chain
A better understanding of what a prayer chain entails is the first step to starting one. However, there are a few things you’ll need to consider to ensure it’s successful.
Ask Before Starting
If you want to start a prayer chain, undoubtedly, it will be with the best intentions in mind. This is even more evident if it’s for someone else’s welfare. However, despite this, the person you’re praying for may not feel the same way.
Some people guard their privacy at all costs, especially when it comes to their health. You’ll want to avoid upsetting someone who may already be physically fragile. Asking how they feel about being the focus of a prayer chain can save you from undue embarrassment.
Try to provide them with as many details as possible. The information should include the proposed size of the group and if you’ll be mentioning them by name or referring to their situation.
The person may decline. They may also be grateful and have no problem with you sharing their information. Sometimes, they may prefer not to have their name or current circumstances mentioned. They may also be okay with you disclosing the details of their case once they remain anonymous.
Regardless of their feelings on the subject or your own particular views, respect their wishes. Instead, you can use the opportunity to find out if they have any specific prayer requests. They might be willing to have you relay these to the group.
Finding all this out may be easy enough when you know the person. But if you don’t, still attempt to get approval. If you can’t, err on the side of caution and do a general prayer chain.
Following these guidelines is also a good idea even if you’re not the one initiating the prayer chain. Have you received a prayer chain request? Don’t assume that the organizer received approval from the person they’re asking you to pray for. Verify by asking. If they haven’t received it, you may want to diplomatically let them know that it would be best if they did.
If you’re in doubt in either situation, don’t start the prayer chain or participate in one. Instead, pray for the person on your own. Often, in these situations, it might be best to pray for a group of people. For example, “all in need of healing at this time.” Doing so may seem to defeat the intent behind a prayer chain. But if you believe in its power, prayer in any form is effective.
Form a Group for Your Prayer Chain
Once you’ve received approval from the recipient, you can form the group. You’ll then need to recruit people willing to pray for them as well as spread the word. Ensure the people you select are comfortable being members of a prayer chain.
Your prayer chain can include family and friends or a wider audience. For example, it can include your congregation, work colleagues, or other affiliations.
Let members know how large the group will be. Some may not be comfortable in a larger group setting. Informing them gives them the option of declining.
Some individuals may even wish to extend the invitation to others. It’s a good idea to let them know if this is acceptable, especially for the person who is the focus of the prayer chain.
You should know the people you’re asking well enough to gauge if they would be suitable for a prayer chain. You want it to achieve the goal of having many people pray for one or a few people.
You’ll need to create a group of reliable and dedicated members for this to happen. They should be as committed to the cause as you are.
Decide on the Medium
Choosing your medium is a crucial step but can be the trickiest. Thankfully, advances in technology help tremendously. However, you’ll still need to decide on the medium to use as it will be how you communicate updates to the group.
The following mediums work well for prayer chains:
Emails provide a great way of communicating that isn’t overly intrusive. However, it may not be as instantaneous as other mediums. Some people don’t check emails as often as they would a text or message on their phone.
You’ll also need to have access to the email addresses of all the members of the group. It may be a good idea to get this information as you invite each of them to the group.
Getting this information may be easier if you’re all from the same church or ministry. Some churches use online registration for events where participants provide their contact information. However, they will need the permission of the members before they can share this with you.
Messaging applications are a direct and immediate form of communication. Most people have access to them on their phones which they usually have on them. It will require setting ground rules, including suitable communication times and content.
Some applications allow one or more group administrators to send messages. These can be an option if you’re simply providing information to other group members. However, you may want group members to have the ability to communicate via the app as well.
Using social media may seem like a scary proposition, given how public this medium is. However, it is possible to set up private groups. Doing so allows members to communicate solely with each other. Only an administrator can provide access to the group.
It’s a lovely way to establish a prayer chain, as people can post their prayers using beautiful imagery. They can also post tributes to the prayer recipient, as long as the person is comfortable with this.
A website can also be a private medium dedicated to a prayer chain. There’s no need to know about website development or hosting. Some sites make building a website easy. They provide you with the theme and also give content suggestions.
You’ll be able to post any updates about the prayer chain on the site. You can also share prayers from group members as well.
As with the Moravians years ago, prayer chains once took the form of a prayer meeting. The group would gather in one place to pray for a specific intention. Being in the same physical space, sharing and consoling each other can provide an intimacy that neither email nor an app would.
There’s no rule that says you can’t do the same today. Many people use a physical space to post their prayers in a dedicated area. It provides a great way to truly unite the group.
A physical meeting space may have been the premise of the first prayer chains. However, in today’s world, with everyone’s hectic, fast-paced life, this may not always be feasible. But having a video conference or call comes very close.
You’ll need to schedule a time that’s convenient for everyone. Doing so becomes more difficult in larger groups. It might be best to schedule a series of calls on the same day of the week and time. Share this once you’ve finalized the members of the group so they can set aside that time for the prayer chain.
The Medium You Choose
There are quite a few options available. You might even decide on using two or more. The medium or mediums you use will depend on the group’s demographics. Choosing more than one could be a compromise that’s suitable for most, if not all, group members.
Designate a Coordinator
The prayer chain coordinator keeps members updated. They will ensure they stay focused on the group’s main objective. You may choose to be the coordinator or designate that role to someone else.
Be sure the person you choose can receive all requests and disseminate them accordingly. They’ll need to be familiar with the medium or mediums chosen and know how to use them.
As the group’s coordinator, they also must be available on short notice. They should have the means to communicate with other group members as well. It could be via their phone or laptop.
Identify the Prayer Request and Share It with the Group
Arguably, the steps above are probably the hardest parts of starting a prayer chain. Once you have the members and coordinator in place, identify the prayer request.
You’ll need to base it on the wishes of the person you’re praying for. The information you gather will determine how detailed the request will be.
Be clear on the type of prayers you’re requesting. They can be for healing, financial blessings, or otherwise. You can also make a general request and let group members decide how they will pray for the person.
Share the prayer request with the group and respond to any clarifications needed by members.
You have the option of requesting feedback from a small group of people you know well. This is even more appropriate if the recipient is a close friend of the members.
Establish Rules for the Group
Depending on the medium or mediums you use, it might be wise to establish rules for the prayer chain group.
These rules should outline the levels of privacy required. Base these on the recipient’s wishes.
If you’re using a messaging app that allows all members to contribute, ensure anything they share:
- Is solely related to the prayer chain
- Is sent within acceptable hours
- Won’t be offensive to others
Setting these ground rules will help the prayer chain run as smoothly as possible.
Keep Group Updated
Prayer chains are primarily set up to offer prayers for someone or a specific cause. But it’s only reasonable that participants receive updates on the recipient’s progress. The prayers may result in healing or consolation and can provide hope for others in similar situations.
Does It Need to End?
Knowing how to start a prayer chain can be very valuable. But with all the work it entails, does it have to end? You can decide if the group agrees that the prayer chain can become a permanent fixture.
You can pray for different members of the group throughout its existence. You can also pray for non-members whose situations you learn about. Incorporate different ways of extending and sharing within the group. Maybe it’s continuing the prayer chain that illustrates the true power of prayer.
InPeace has many solutions that can help with this, including online prayer requests. We use technology to increase memberships in churches and ministries and can do the same for your prayer chain group.