This article will show you how to use technology to pray together using conference calls, smart phones, online meeting portals such as Zoom, social media, caring websites and text messages.
How to use technology to pray together
The Bible tells us that gathering together to pray daily is an effective and powerful way to intercede for each other and our world. (See Matthew 18:20) This principle is as true today as when it was written over 2,000 years ago. What has changed since then is a whole galaxy of inventions that have helped us do more in less time which has caused us to become over scheduled. We live lives of greater complexity, frantic paces, mixed priorities and increased isolation.
Add all of these modern factors to the traditional obstacles such as work schedules, childcare duties, transportation, inclement weather, illness and physical mobility and there’s a perfect storm that causes us to have to make a much greater effort to pray together.
Sometimes finding a time and place that’s accessible to everyone is nearly impossible, especially if you are trying to pray together frequently.
Recently prayer groups have begun overcoming these problems when they use technology to pray together using technology and online communities where they can share their lives, thoughts, joys and difficulties with others across geographical boundaries without having to leave their own homes. This has created innovative new ways for prayer groups to meet, pray for each other and share prayer requests and praise reports.
Here are some ideas of how to use technology to pray together daily.
How to use technology to pray together using a prayer conference call or video meeting
Using conference calls, online meetings or video chats to pray together daily is similar to traditional prayer meetings because you are able to hear each other’s prayers and add your own prayers to them.
Use technology to pray together by Leading a prayer conference call, online meeting or video chat. Like traditional prayer meetings, prayer conference calls and online meetings require a leader or organizer who plans the logistics. As in a traditional prayer meeting, the leader recruits members and notifies the members of the day and time of the meeting. The prayer leader sets the agenda and decides on the purpose of the prayer time. As an example, the focus of the conference call or video chat can be to pray for each other, to pray over prayer requests given to the group by others or to support a specific group or cause in prayer, such as their church leadership or a nonprofit organization.
In additional to the traditional duties of a prayer leader, those organizing a prayer conference call or video meeting prayer group sets up the technical means for the meeting and informs members how to use it. The prayer leader also assigns a leader or leads the call or video meeting themselves. During the prayer group, the leader welcomes members and starts the prayer time, sets the guidelines for the prayer time and ends the meeting on time.
Guidelines for the prayer time might include how to take turns praying. It can be done extemporaneously as the spirit moves each participant or the leader may call on members by name after another member has finished their prayer. The leader may announce different topics for prayer and then allow others to pray on this subject, or the group may pray in unison a common prayer.
There are some forms of prayer that will not be terribly effective when you use technology to pray together. For instance, praying silently works better in a traditional face-to-face prayer group because they can draw on God’s presence in the prayerful atmosphere. When people are scattered into their individual homes and offices, their ability to experience and benefit from silent prayer may be limited.
Other forms of prayer are impossible in virtual reality prayer groups. As an example, praying for someone by gathering around them and laying hands on them can’t be done, though you might be able to symbolically do this by touching the phone or the computer screen.
You can find more details on the types of intercessory prayer groups you can form, different modes of prayer and how to lead prayer groups in our article How to start an intercessory prayer group.
Setting up the technological portal for a prayer conference call or prayer video chat. Setting up a prayer conference call or prayer online meeting is much easier than you think.
You can sign up for free telephone conference call numbers at various websites such as freeConferenceCall.com. They will provide you with a call-in number for your group and also a pin number for your prayer group members to use.
For video meetings, some popular choices include Skype, Facetime, Zoom and Google Hangouts.
Each of these websites will give you easy, step by step prompts on how to set up your group. You can also find specific information on how to use this media by googling a “how to” article or video.
Once you establish your means of communication, send all members the information they need to join the group. Include numbers to call, how to log in, pin numbers and whether they need to become members of a site in order to log in and participate. It’s a good idea if you’re using new technology for the first time to do a test run beforehand using another member of the group.
Communicate meeting etiquette to members beforehand or at the beginning. It’s a good idea to remind members in advance about meeting logistics and etiquette. Members should be encouraged to join a few minutes early so that everyone will be on the line at the planned starting time. They should also be given an email contact to use if they are having trouble connecting during the meeting. Members should mute their phones or computer speakers when they’re not actively speaking and keep background noise and interruptions such as pets, children and household appliances to a minimum when they do speak. And if you’re doing a phone conference, it’s extremely helpful if they state their name every time they begin talking or praying. when using a conference call.
How to pray together using social media
Doing prayer through a social media group is different than a face-to-face prayer group because most often the prayer communication is done via writing prayers on a keyboard. This makes it a little less responsive than a voice based virtual prayer group and requires users to have access to a computer keyboard or a phone keyboard.
Beware that writing messages on devices can also more easily lead to misunderstandings. As an example, if participants are using a phone keyboard, you can end up with some garbled and sometimes humorous messages because phones automatically fill in a words that it guesses you’re trying to write! It might fill in Jesse for Jesus or heavily instead of heavenly or angle instead of angel. You could end up with a prayer that says, “Jesse, send your heavily angles to us today.”
Another thing to bear in mind is that when things are written, you miss the nuances of emotion, emphasis and tone of the other person’s prayer. For instance, in a vocal prayer group, you could hear the forcefulness with which someone is praying or the humility and sorrow they are expressing.
Using written communication also limits the ability of group members to use vocalizations of agreement to the prayers. In face-to-face prayer, group members sometimes quietly express agreement with the person praying by saying quietly in response, “Yes Lord,” or “Thank you Jesus,” or “Amen.”
And finally, writing prayers is less instantaneous than spoken prayers because of the wait times while people write in their prayers, the short delays in cyberspace and the time it takes people to read them.
After mentioning these differences, there are some very positive qualities in using written social media gatherings as a virtual prayer group. First of all, God can use the slower nature of writing prayers to help members express themselves more precisely as they choose their words. It also gives readers more time to absorb the other person’s prayer and review them to gain the greater impact.
Secondly, the social media exchanges automatically create a record of everything being prayed, which is a huge advantage to members who can go back and see the times of the prayers, the ways the prayers have evolved. As an added blessing, they can identify how God has specifically answered different aspects of the prayers.
Another good feature of a social media prayer group is that it can either be used as a set meeting where everyone is online at once, interacting in real time by posting their prayers and replies to each other, or it can be used in lag time, with members able to log on at different times and add to the prayer thread. (Many social media accounts can be set up so members get notifications when someone adds a new post.)
Social media groups include Facebook (you can create a closed membership group where only invited members can see the posts), Yahoo groups, private chat rooms etc.
How to use technology to pray together daily using caring concern websites and pages
When a community or individual experiences a crisis or tragedy, people often set up special web pages onto which people can post updates and post prayers. An example of a special concerns website is the Caring Bridge website where anyone can create a private page to keep people informed of a family or person going through a medical or life crisis.
These websites are extremely helpful to the families and individuals going through difficulties because they often don’t have the time or energy to let everyone know each day’s prayer needs and praises. By posting their needs online they can let everyone know at once. You can sign up for notifications on most of these websites when an update is posted and react to it immediately.
I have followed and prayed for a number of different people on such a caring website. As an example, one woman had cancer and when she had a bone marrow procedure she was placed in complete isolation because of her compromised immune system and couldn’t receive visitors. We were able to post our prayers for her online and she could read them without feeling obligated to answer us or thank us until she was strong enough to do so.
How to use technology to pray together using group text messages
Another electronic means of sharing requests and praying for each other is through group text message streams. I’m in a small neighborhood Bible study group that uses this method. Someone will send a short prayer request and members will respond with a few words such as “In prayer now!” or “Praying God’s healing power.”
When we are together in our regular meetings in someone’s home, we assign one person to write down the prayer requests directly into a new text message box to send out to those who aren’t present and to serve as a reminder to the rest of us to pray .
If you use this type of prayer circle, it’s best to do so in a very small group to avoid an avalanche of text replies. Also, it’s wise to use it for fairly urgent or time sensitive requests to avoid overloading members with text messages since people interrupt whatever they’re doing to read a text message.
My experiences with electronic prayer groups.
I have lead both a prayer conference call and a video meeting prayer group, both with very good results.
We used a conference call for our Board decided to use a telephone conference call to pray for our ministry. I was quite surprised at how well it worked and how easy it was to use. None of us are technological whizzes, but one of our members had used this media before at work and was able to set up the call for us.
During the coronavirus outbreak when everyone was forced to stay home and all meetings were canceled, our prayer group used a video meeting, Fortunately, one of our members is in training, so she knew how to set up a meeting for us and how to instruct us on how to do it.
We agreed to meet online at the time of our regular monthly meeting. To save time during the online meeting, I asked members to email me their prayer requests before the meeting. This cut down on the time online which can be limited if you ‘re using a free service that cuts off after a certain length of time.
As a prayer leader, I found this video meeting platform particularly useful because I could see everyone’s faces and also see them bowed in prayer. Also, a box lights up around the person who is praying, making it easier to keep track of who’s praying without them having to say their name like is sometimes necessary on a phone conference call.
Another interesting thing I noted was that some of our members who are newer to the group and a little reluctant to pray out loud spoke up more during prayer since they were in their own home alone and didn’t feel the slight “stage fright” that people sometimes feel when praying out loud.
The experience was so positive and helpful for all of us that we decided to meet online every week for prayer during the crisis.
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Copyright Karen Barber 2019. All rights reserved.