Prayer requests can happen at any time and anywhere, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the mass human isolation it has caused, our congregants are struggling to communicate their prayer requests to the rest of the congregation.
We were inspired to make a solution for this when we received an unfortunate prayer request for a teen at our church that got very sick. The teen’s family wanted urgent prayer but only knew to approach a few church leaders via email. The leaders had the responsibility to let others know of this prayer request but only through the limited and traditional methods of online communication. A mass email could be sent out, but it could take a while for the email to be read by all parties and there is no way to know if the prayer request has been seen.
The solution we have come up with is a prayer board that lets anyone (anonymously or not) submit their prayer requests for all to see. Congregates could check this prayer board regularly to see what praise and prayer items have surfaced within the church and its members. Any intercessors that wish to action these prayer requests can have a personal tab to see all their activity on the prayer board, such as those they have prayed for in order for them to follow up accordingly.
What it does
The function is simple: A prayer request is posted in the hub. It displays the requester's name and the date it was submitted. We are aware that there are certain sensitivities for anonymity or the reception of the request, and we have considered these factors in how the message is to be displayed on our prayer board. If someone wishes to pray for it, they click on it, and the status of the request displays 'Praying for you'. There are no names displayed or it doesn't show who is praying for that person unless the intercessor reaches out the requester. This activity is logged into the intercessor's personal tab page so they can do so.
It has also been observed that our congregants are slow to adopt these new tools, so we have also incorporated a no-account submission process where anyone can just go to the hub and submit their request. To view these requests, however, an account has to be made so that the confidentiality is kept that only church congregants can see them. There are no passwords required, as the user would just need be sent an ‘invite’ link (through email). After the initial sign-up, it will be auto-entry for that user for easy access in future visits.
A value we have identified is that a prayer request is often dear to a requester’s heart, so follow up and tracking is important. We would engage these values by facilitating ongoing actions for the prayer requests, such as intercessors sending encouragement, bible verses or even prayer itself to the requester. This engagement can further carry this hub to be a place of connection and interaction, and most importantly, pray together. This will help achieve deep and meaningful interactivity for our church family, during these remote times.
How we built it
We used Figma, the collaborative integration design tool, to visualize how the prayer hub would look like. Please view the video for its walkthrough.
Challenges we ran into
Figuring out the scope was a bit tricky as we reflected on how the current prayer culture of our church was and how this idea could positively impact it. Some considerations that we came across, but did not proceed with, are as follows: it was only used by a designated prayer team, prayer requests would need to be approved before it is posted, comments and responses were displayed after each request, etc. We also thought about how prayer requests could be categorized - is it urgent, does it only relate to children's ministry, when does the prayer request gets taken off the hub, etc. We have decided to go for simple and straightforward, and put impact first as a priority and to remember the original functionality of this idea - for people's prayers to be heard, and prayed for.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Once we narrowed down the things that were important to us, the wireframe was produced quickly and it satisfied a lot of what we wanted to incorporate. The conceptual thinking was built through lots of team discussions and feedback and we were often on the same page. Our biggest struggle was to figure out how we can convince the congregation to adopt this - and so our biggest value proposition is that there is no need for an extra app to download or password to remember, it's easy to access, share, update, and use.
What we learned
We learned that keeping it simple was the best approach, but to also remember that it's not just a system - it's a tool to encourage engagement and support for each other through this unique and challenging pandemic. Prayer is a way to converse with each other, even from a remote way, to pray for one another in a meaningful and timely way, and most importantly, to intercede for the Kingdom of God.
What's next for Intercede
With COVID-19 at our doors and the world being impacted overnight, lots of things are on lockdown or on hold. This impacts jobs, our human face-to-face relationship, our health, our perspectives and ultimately, our faith. Prayer is essential in a time of uncertainty and instant changes. Feeling 'further apart' and isolated, we need more opportune ways to intercede. We hope to allow a pop-up notification can alert intercessors when a new prayer item has been added so that it can be prayed for right away. As we come from a church with three different congregations (three different languages) - we hope we can have easy language adaptions to this hub. Our English Congregation has about 150 congregants. To include the other congregants it would be close to 600. We also hope to create an easy way to categorize the prayer requests to certain interest groups/ministry for easy filtering and search lookup. Another nice feature we hope to have is an easy way to show praise items on a board that can be easily extracted to be put on announcements or on our website. We would like our congregation to include it as a daily item to use, not just on Sundays, or not just for people who desire to pray, but as a spiritual discipline that we can all practice, to converse with our Lord and with the different relationships at church. With COVID-19 there will certainly be heightened physical needs to be prayed for, but we know it is a spiritual rollercoaster for many. Our ultimate goal as well is to use prayer as a missional approach, to reach those outside our church 'walls'.