Friday, July 02, 2004

Prayer Tables

If we are a "holy priesthood," for whom do we intercede? Only each other, or non-Christians as well? If we intercede for others, how do we do so?

With a public prayer table?

There are 3 types of prayer tables: In church, at Christian venues (like concerts), and at secular venues (like fairs or block parties).

Many churches have a prayer box, where you can drop in a prayer request. Some also have a prayer room, where you can go to pray with someone.

A prayer table at a secular venue is like that at a Christian venue, but with stronger accountability controls, more training for outreach, and more training for the servers for dealing with hecklers and pranksters.

So consider the prayer table at a Christian venue.

At Christian concerts, you find sales tables and information tables.

Set up a table with 3 or 4 people to sit taking prayer requests and praying with people. The servers commit to praying for these requests for a week. A large sign tells what we do (pray for your requests) and who is sponsoring it (a church must sponsor tables to make sure that we have accountability, and don't have charlatans or gossips manning the table).

People can leave prayer cards in a jar, which the servers will pray for for a week. No names are required.

Remember Mark 11:24, Mark 11:25-26, and Matthew 6:7-8.

Some people will want answers to questions about God or doctrine. Keep a Bible (maybe some freebies too) and gospel tracts handy. Servers should admit their ignorance about subtle details, but be able to explain the gospel. DO NOT deprecate ANY Christian denomination. That is not the way of service here. It is probably not a good idea to strongly deprecate non-Christian groups either (atheists, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc) because that's not what we're trying to do.

Some non-believers and immature people will make fun or propose rediculous petitions. Politely decline.

Don't get involved in any politics--local, national, or international.

Some people will want to sit and talk. We need polite ways to cut to a specific request if a line forms.

Some people will need counseling. We need a list of clergy or other counselors--counseling is not our job.

Some prayers will need a bit of clarification or generalizing. For example, needing money is pretty non-specific. Does the person need a job, or need money for something (rent, etc)? Try as much as possible to avoid changing the central request. If there are issues that need expansion, talk about them (ask "Is this . . ." questions) before praying.

Some people will want to confess sins. Our servers must be very discreet. We don't offer cheap confessionals. The servers must refer back to the petitioner's preacher/priest, remind them of the command to "go and be reconciled to your brother" and emphasize that only God forgives. If we allow confessions at all, they must be private and follow the rules that apply to counselors and priests. No records.

Beware of carrom prayer requests: gossiping or bad-mouthing someone in the guise of asking prayer for that person.

Sample: Pray that God will forgive X; thank God that He does forgive; pray that X will stand firm in repentence and fill his/her life with good work instead of the sin; and that X will be reconciled with whoever he/she may have offended with this sin.

Again: Remember Mark 11:24, Mark 11:25-26, and Matthew 6:7-8.


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