Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Parish Prayer List. . .

Every Sunday I read off the first names of those on our prayer list.  We have people sick and in treatment (translation: hospitalized, awaiting surgery, receiving chemo, etc.).  We have people recovering (translation: on the mend mostly at home).  We have those in sympathy (translation: those who have lost family or friends to death).  We have the long term folks (translation: aged and infirm with chronic ills that will not go away except by death).  We have those in nursing homes (no need for translation).  And sometimes we have people for "other needs" (things that cannot or should not be named).

Some names have been on those lists forever.  Most are on for months.  A few go on and off in a week or two.  We mark the members with bold type face and the rest are friends and family of members.  Some names come on Sunday morning.  Others are phoned in during the week.  Occasionally we have only the first name. The list is not perfectly up to date.  We have prayed for the recovery of those who died two weeks ago and once we prayed for those grieving someone who had not yet died.  Oh, well, like God does not know the score.

There are prayer cards in the Narthex to fill out when you wish to add a name.  We get a few of those.  We also get a ton of hand written notes and not always with the name of the person referring the individual for inclusion on our prayer list. Every now and then we lose track of who this person is and drop the name from the list.  Often it takes just a week or so before we are taken to task and the name is restored to the diptych.

It is just that I wonder if there are not better ways of handling this.  I would welcome hints and helps from those who have a better system of handling the names on a parish prayer list.  Let me know if you have a better or different way of handling this aspect of parish ministry or if you share my lament that this is an area with some difficulties.  I would appreciate your guidance but will accept your commiseration. 


Sam said...

Here is a good "prayer oops" for you. A member died named "Bill xxx" and a relative of one of our members died named "xxx Schneider." I prayed for the family of "xxx Schneider" and then also "Bill Schneider" instead of "Bill xxx." This wouldn't have been a problem.... except the fact that we have a Bill Schneider who is a member... who was in that service. I still haven't heard the end of it.

Jeremy Loesch said...

I only offer my commiseration. The Prayer List is a necessity for the people though for the pastor it becomes burdensome. You know the litany of responses: Why did you forget? You need to give us more information? Why are we praying for people I don't know?

We did start a general rule (that is frequently broken) of praying for someone for four weeks. If we do not hear from the family, then we take the person off of our prayer list. It's rather arbitrary.

And maybe once a year we put a "Who's who?" in the newsletter. We give bare-bones info ie "Joe is Sue's nephew and he is recovering from heart surgery."


Dr.D said...

Most of mine are folks dealing with the long term problems of life and thus remain on the prayer list for extended periods of time. I try to check up on them at least twice a year, to get an indication of continuing need or not. Rarely do I find a situation where I can drop a name from the list.

Fr. D+
Continuing Anglican Priest