Now that the world is at our fingertips, via the internet, a host of holy ones are no longer folding their hands to pray. Instead, folks are tapping their computer keyboards, as they pray for one another.
From Pretoria to Peoria, from Tokyo to Tel Aviv, and from San Francisco to San Juan, the faithful are praying in print and sending their missives to one another.
Why do we pray by e-mail?
Of course, we all know God doesn’t need e-mail to hear our prayers! But we sure do!
I have faithful friends all over the world. Some are working overseas, while others are in academic programs. Several are missionaries, serving in various countries around the globe. We keep in touch by e-mail. They usually ask me to intercede, or pray for them.
Many friends will write notes to me, asking for prayer about a specific concern. This is so helpful! But how often do I promise to pray for someone’s need, and then forget to follow-through?
That’s why e-mail intercession is so helpful.
If I receive a prayer request from a far-away friend, then I like to type my response as a prayer. This keeps me accountable, even as it encourages my long-distance brethren.
In addition, the action of typing out a prayer requires a fair amount of concentration, focus, and empathy. Instead of merely uttering, “God, bless so-and-so,” we can actually work through what we are asking the Lord to answer. This forces us to pray specifically, and specific answers can be recognized, when they occur!
Here’s an example:
Suppose Robin asks me to pray for her next-door neighbor, Bruce, who has just learned that he has cancer. Reading Robin’s e-mail, I might respond like this:
Thank you for my friend Robin, with her wonderful compassion and concern for others. Thank you that she wants to reach out and care for her neighbor, Bruce. I may not know the specifics of his illness, but You do. Please place Your healing hand upon Bruce right now. Please give him strength, and let him know it comes from You. Let this ordeal Bruce is facing cause him to place his trust in You for now and for eternity. Grant Your peace and rest to Bruce and his whole family. Let Your name be honored, as you work through this whole difficult situation. And let Bruce praise You for what you are already doing in his life.
Now Robin knows that I really have prayed for the need she shared with me. Instead of just tapping out a quick “I-promise-to-pray-for-you” note, I put my actual prayer in writing for Robin to see. Hopefully, she will be encouraged by that. She will probably even share the e-mail message with Bruce, so that he will know for sure that someone has been praying for him. Quite possibly, both Robin and Bruce will archive the message, so they may look at it again later, when they need a lift.
Someday, when I have a personal prayer need, I will share it with Robin. And guess what? Robin will let her fingers fly across her own computer keyboard, as she places my need before the throne of grace. And God will be reading, right over her shoulder, and smiling to Himself, because we are trusting Him together.
What are e-mail prayer circles?
In our own local church, we have e-mail prayer teams for every day of the week. People in the congregation (and many other folks too!) will send prayer requests daily by e-mail to the church office. The office will forward these to the daily prayer team captains, who will pass them out to folks to pray. The daily lists always include prayer needs and praise reports (for answered prayer).
Prayer team members will begin to pray, wherever they are. They have no meetings to attend, just private praying. It’s so simple, and God honors their faithfulness!
One of the wonderful blessings of sending e-mailed prayers is that they provide a written record. When a specific prayer is answered, we can go back and trace the date it was prayed. We can see how the need arose and how it was met. And we are all blessed and encouraged by this!