As I mentioned in part one of this brief series, I recently examined 100 missionary newsletters to determine how prayer requests were handled. What I found prompted me to outline ten simple ways to raise prayer support for your ministry.
The first five are in 10 Simple Ways to Raise More Prayer Support for Your Ministry, Part 1. In this post I present the remaining five proposals.
I hope the following five proposals, together with first five, will help you improve on how you ask for prayer and handle prayer requests.
Let’s continue with the sixth proposal.
6. Provide 3–6 items for praise and prayer.
The average number of prayer requests was 4. However, for newsletters with both praise and prayer items, it was 7. There was an average of 3 praises and 4 petitions in the latter group of newsletters.
I recommend having 3-6 prayer requests. I would have the same number of praises and petitions.
It may be difficult to write two or three praises when you first start. However, with each successive newsletter, you will find it easier to write praises because you will have more and more answered prayers to write about.
7. Consider asking how you might pray for your readers.
As I carefully searched through my sample of 100 newsletters, I found two that stood out. In these letters the missionaries asked if they could pray for me, the reader!
These missionaries have definitely raised the bar to a new height, not only asking for prayer but also offering to pray for their partners.
I contacted one of these missionaries and asked for prayer about a topic very much on my heart. He kindly replied the next day and said that he had prayed for me and my family.
What do you think I will do when I next see his newsletter in my inbox?
8. Send brief requests for prayer.
Several years into our ministry, we started sending out requests for prayer about a very specific topic or event.
When we sent brief requests by email, we were surprised to receive more replies than we normally did for a newsletter. Some were a sentence or two in length. Others were very short, such as “Prayed.”
I would encourage you to start sending out very brief requests for prayer. They should be short, concise, and have a deadline. The request I shared above is concise and has a clear timetable, but I wouldn’t write a request longer than this one.
As for the format of these brief prayer requests, make sure they don’t look like your normal newsletter. I would not have the normal subject line or banner at the beginning of the email. Instead, have something like “A Quick Prayer Item from John & Jane” in the subject line and have a simple email with no graphics, images, or donation buttons.
Some missionaries ask in their newsletters if their readers would like to receive brief prayer updates. I wouldn’t ask your readers to sign up for these updates. Just start sending updates to them. I think you will be encouraged by the response. If anyone complains, you can take that person off the your email list for prayer updates.
9. Send very brief updates about an answered prayer.
After sending your first brief prayer request, plan to send a follow-up message.
Keep it very brief, but you might add a photo or mention that you will write more in your forthcoming newsletter.
Thank your prayer partners in this brief update.
10. Thank those who pray for you.
It is important to thank those who pray for you, but it is not always possible to know who they are. Contrast this with your financial partners. You receive a regular financial statement concerning their giving, including their full name, address, and more. But who gets a monthly prayer statement?
The least you should do is to express your gratitude in a general way in your newsletter. In each newsletter, in a slightly different place, with slightly different wording, you should mention your appreciation for all those who have prayed for you.
We sent out approximately 500 newsletters by email. We did well to get five or six replies thanking us for the newsletter. If you receive replies such as we did, immediately thank these partners! Thank them especially for their prayers and even ask them again to pray!
If you start sending out brief, separate requests for prayer and even shorter updates, you will find out more about who is praying for you. Each person that replies with a comment or kind word should get an immediate thank you from you! Immediate? Yes! Don’t hesitate and miss that moment to encourage them!
What to do right now
- Look at your last newsletter or two and see if you have an appropriate number of prayer topics and items of praise.
- Do you send out brief requests for prayer and updates? Why or why not? What would you need to do to start sending these out?
- Read the first post in this series, reflect on the ten ways to raise more prayer, and write down one specific step you would like to take.
What has been your experience with raising prayer support?
What would you encourage other missionaries to do?