Digital Prayer: A New Invitation to a Sacred Conversation

Picture this: It’s Easter Sunday, and a visitor who hasn’t been to church since Christmas Eve is in attendance. She feels stress at work, angst from social media and the news, and sadness at home. In fact, she wouldn’t mind if someone prayed for her, even though she rarely prays.

Then, during the service, the pastor invites people to take a prayer request card, fill it out, and pass it down to the end of their row. Does she do it? Does she put her most intimate requests on a piece of paper and pass it down the row for anyone to read? Is this really the best way to engage in prayer for this woman?

Easter is one of the biggest moments of the year when many people return their attention to spiritual practices and, hopefully, to God. Of those practices, prayer is arguably the most prominent spiritual practice of faith among Christians, and even among those of other faiths or no spiritual affiliation. 

A praying church community is also a powerful “needle-mover” for what pastors say is their top list of challenges: reaching more people outside the church, engaging and keeping the people they have, mobilizing more volunteers and building relationships with people who attend church online, but otherwise remain anonymous.

One way to expand the practice of prayer is through digital prayer. You may ask, “Does praying over text or email count? Is it as sacred as praying for them in person?” Yes, it is. Digital prayer is still prayer, because prayer is about building a relationship with God and others. In this age when relationships  fluidly move between in-person and virtual, digital prayer is simply another mode of spiritual practice.

Why digital? Churches that leverage digital tools to power prayer often see up to 10x the prayer activity they did before. But I’ve seen even more ways church leaders can use digitally-powered prayer.

As Outreach

Prayer can succeed in reaching and serving people where other methods don’t. Consider one campaign partner we work with at Gloo, Churches Care. Among the digital ads they run on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google, the ads that generate the most responses include the question, “How can we pray for you?” When someone responds to an ad with a prayer request, my team at Gloo connects them with a local church nearby. 

The local church connects with the individual, praying for their requested needs. What’s even more powerful are the days and weeks that follow, when a deeper relationship begins to form between the pastor or staff member and that individual.

Authentic relationships made possible through digital connection.

As Church Engagement

Because people are finding spiritual content from a wider variety of places, pastors’ touch points with their congregants have become fewer. Intercessory prayer is a powerful way for church leaders to stay connected, build powerful relational bonds and show people that your church cares and is there for them—inside and outside of church. 

While digitally-powered prayer is a new model for some church leaders, it’s helpful to keep in mind that these days, people are generally more comfortable seeking help on digital channels than in person. There’s something about requesting prayer over text or a computer that gives people agency over their privacy, allowing them to be more transparent than on a paper card in church or seeking out someone from the prayer team after the service.

As Volunteer Recruitment

Anyone can pray. And they can now pray anywhereregardless of whether or not your church has a prayer room. Prayer helps your members serve and connect with one another. In fact, asking to pray for someone shows you care about them. It’s honoring and loving to that individual. Yet even mature Christians don’t always find the opportunity to pray for others.

Churches that offer digital prayer ministries create simple and easy opportunities for those who want to contribute, but don’t know how. And digital tools allow every prayer to be covered, every person to be seen, and for God’s providence to be displayed in a very visual way.

Prayer is a sacred invitation to the ancient practice of connecting with God and others. And digitally-powered prayer is more than just an electronic tool. It’s an opportunity for a new invitation.

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