"I ask for prayer for work opportunities."
"I have health problems and I would like you to pray for me."
"My family and I had COVID and we are in need of prayer for our restoration to health."
The phrases above are just a portion of the thousands of prayer requests that are posted daily on Seventh-day Adventist Church profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They are registered by men and women from different contexts, regions, and needs, but who have in common the desire for others to pray for them.
“Intercession is a spiritual gift that is often not valued because it happens in the silence of personal prayer, but it is one of the most important for the advancement of the cause of God and the care and support of people,” says Pastor Josanan Alves, director of the Christian stewardship department at South American Adventist Church headquarters.
This year, Alves is at the forefront of prayer initiatives promoted by the Adventist Church, such as the recent 10 Days of Prayer program held in February. Now, other campaigns are underway to boost and strengthen relationships with others and fellowship with God.
One of them is Envolve 2021, which takes place live over 21 days, always at 4:59 a.m. on the denomination's official Facebook page (adventistas brasil). The meetings are organized by the Associação Paulista Central, one of the administrative offices of the church for the interior of São Paulo, and focus on the biblical text, music, and intercession, and will be broadcast until March 27.
On Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Pastor Luís Gonçalves, an evangelist for the Adventist Church for eight countries in South America, is broadcasting messages of hope for times of crisis, always at 7 p.m. on the Facebook page and on the Adventist channel Brazil on YouTube.
“Vamos Orar,” a meeting broadcast on Wednesdays at 7:30 a.m., dedicated ten days in a row to interact with Internet users and bring reflections and comforting content for those who have been facing difficulties, especially in the face of the pandemic and its worsening in several locations.
Digital bridges, real effects
But why is it essential that more people come together to pray for these requests registered on the internet? Carlos Magalhães, manager of the digital strategies department at the denomination's South American headquarters, argues that it is important that the person knows they are not alone in their pains and anxieties.
"When we are entrusted with a prayer request, we try to ensure that someone is caring and dedicating themselves to pray for it," he details.
In addition to the “silent” intercession, which happens when someone does not know that there are people praying for them, interacting with those who share their requests in the digital environment--whether in the form of a comment or reacting to the content--is one of the ways to show that there are people paying attention to their needs.
“We have realized that this is one of the main opportunities to demonstrate empathy and love, and also to share the gospel in a practical way,” says Magalhães. “When we show affection and concern, many feel the desire to get closer to God and also ask for help for their spiritual life.”
According to Alves, prayer makes us look beyond difficult days, with hope and confidence in a God who is in control of everything. A few weeks ago, he sent an audio recording of a prayer to a friend who is quarantining with COVID-19. In his response, the man said that although he was receiving the best treatment available at a hospital in the state where he lives, the prayer did for him something that the drugs and treatments had failed to achieve: The message he received gave him peace and confidence to face the uncertain days ahead.
New opportunities, new possibilities
And to further strengthen the habit of interceding for others, the Adventist Church created the digital campaign We Pray for You. The main objective is to welcome and demonstrate empathy to those who leave their prayer request on the official social networks of the denomination. The idea is to connect the two groups: Those who share their pleas, and those who are available to be an intercessor.
“Generally, organizations use the internet to publicize their business and interests,” Magalhães points out. “The church, however, has another objective: it encourages the use of the internet to listen to people and interact with them. I think this is one of the most noble ways to use technology.”
The dynamic works as follows: During the live sessions, the presenters inform the internet users that the team behind the scenes is praying for them. If you want to receive a personalized audio prayer, viewers are invited to go to adv.st/orepormim.
After registering the order, a robot forwards the message to the WhatsApp number of those who are available to pray.
“We are invited to love one another, honor one another, serve one another, and pray for one another,” Alves urges. “Praying for each other is intercession, and in addition to being an apostolic order, it is also a great benefit for the people involved.”
At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the team of the digital strategies department at the South American Adventist headquarters received a prayer request from someone who was depressed and had symptoms of suicidal ideation. At first, they said they were in prayer for her. In addition, they shared Bible verses and the address of an Adventist church near her home.
Initially, this was enough to comfort the person, but during the exchange of messages, they realized that it was necessary to do more: she needed attention and the certainty that she was not alone. This contact, which became a friendship, continued for a year.
Two weeks ago, the woman visited an Adventist church and is preparing to be baptized without any appeal being made during the service.
“What she says is that she saw God through our affection,” Magalhães emphasizes. “I learned that the more we learn to listen to people, the more effective our sermons become.”
A touch of hope
The Adventist Church has also enhanced the use of the 7me app, which now has an exclusive area for prayer, including the possibility of creating specific groups for this purpose. More than a thousand of pray-ers have already been trained, while the number of requests exceeds five thousand.
Whether inside a group or outside, by touching the “pray” button, which is next to the recorded message, the Internet user signals his desire to intercede for that request. When this occurs, the person who posted it receives a notification that indicates that someone is praying for them. To download it, just go to your device's app store.
Alves concludes: “The process of intercession is the best way to reach hearts for the truth.”