As I write this post, I’ve just stepped out of a digital prayer meeting with our Distance Learning students at Southeastern Seminary. Because we offer multiple graduate and doctoral degrees that don’t require moving to Wake Forest,* we have many committed students who live elsewhere—and we want them to be part of our community life as well. I grant that distance education makes this approach necessary, but I also think local churches can use this approach at times, too.
While I’m not arguing that all of our prayer meetings should be online, I do believe we can share prayer times that way. Here are some reasons why:
- We still need to be praying together, even when the COVID-19 situation has made it more difficult. Perhaps, in fact, we need to be praying together as much as we ever have as we seek God’s guidance in these troubled times. Social distancing doesn’t preclude us from praying together via online means.
- Some folks who can’t attend in person (for various reasons) can sometimes attend via Zoom or some other means. Thus, they can (a) virtually join a group where others are meeting in person, or (b) gather with others who are joining online from varied locations. In either case, prayer grows and disciples increase.
- Believing family members and friends who live elsewhere can join the prayer meeting as well. Frankly, it wouldn’t hurt us to include other praying brothers and sisters – even if they aren’t members of our church – in our intercession. Christian unity that goes beyond our own congregation ought to mark our lives, and we can help build that on our “online knees.”
- Our church’s distant college students, military personnel, and missionaries might occasionally join us – or, we might invite them to be the focus of our praying. Too often, we almost forget these folks because they’re out of sight. It’s our responsibility, though, to stay connected with them through various means—including online prayer times.
- Shut-ins can stay better connected to the church through online prayer meetings. Sometimes, our shut-ins are the best prayer warriors our churches have. If we’re concerned they may not be internet-savvy, we surely have church members who can help them get connected.
- If the prayer meeting is recorded, others can later join us in the praying. Just because they watch a recorded meeting doesn’t mean their prayers are somehow less significant. They might even pause the recording after each request and pray with great focus and diligence.
- God just does something when His people pray together. Read the book of Acts, and you’ll find that prayer is evident in most of the chapters of this story of the early church. These believers had prayer in their DNA, and they turned cities upside down. That’s the kind of praying we need—including in digital prayer meetings.
Again, please hear me: I am not calling for eliminating in-person prayer meetings. I’m simply encouraging us to take intentional advantage of the online opportunities we have to pray together more.
*If you’re interested in an online degree, check out our SEBTS options here.