Celebrating Long-time Prayer Partners
MAY 14, 2019 BY NICOLE CURTIS
The Upper Room Chapel Celebrates Prayer Ministry and United Methodist Men’s Long-time Involvement
NASHVILLE, Tenn. May 15, 2019 /The Upper Room / —The Upper Room Chapel held a special service in honor of The Living Prayer Center, which ended its live, call-in prayer line on April 30 to focus on its online prayer wall and covenant prayer groups.
Since 1977, the phone ministry has allowed people to call in for prayer and to be prayed for by trained volunteers who answered in remote locations, including homes and churches. At the height of its ministry, 30,000 phone calls were received each month. Many of those were answered by United Methodist Men Prayer Advocates and other long-time committed volunteers. But the way people request prayers and want to be prayed for has changed.
“The Upper Room is shifting its focus to the online prayer wall in order to support people in their preferred ways of communicating and experiencing community,” says Migdiel Pérez, Manager of The Living Prayer Center. “One post on the prayer wall leads to hundreds of others praying for a request by name and need.”
Pérez continues, “In today’s changing world of technology, The Upper Room Prayer Center is becoming alive in a new way. . . . Our prayer wall reaches a global audience (unlike the 800 number, which only served those in the United States). We received over 670,000 online prayer requests in 2018.” By comparison, the phone line received 111,073 calls, in which 20,627 were answered. Another third were robo calls. A sharp decrease in the number of volunteers to answer the phone line also played a role in The Upper Room’s decision to end the prayer line.
Throughout the prayer line’s ministry, there have been many volunteers who have served faithfully, answering the calls and praying for thousands. Key among them were the United Methodist Men (UMM), who have supported this ministry in prayer and finances from day one, including having official roles of Prayer Advocates. Several of these key figures attended the special chapel service, including Gil Hanke, Gen. Secretary of the General Commission of United Methodist Men (UMM). Hanke gave the homily. Also present were Wallace H. Neal, National Prayer Advocate; Ingram Howard, Prayer Advocate for the TN Conference; and Susan Kirby, who for 35 years has answered the phone line from 9:00-11:00 a.m. on Fridays.
“There’s a view or perception that UMM groups just meet monthly for an unhealthy meal. Anytime we can demonstrate that we are speaking into the lives of others, it adds value. . . . We measure success through transformation. There’s no transformation without prayer. We support a ministry of prayer that goes around the world.” Hanke explains about the UMM’s involvement in the prayer center.
Although initially disappointed about the ending of the prayer line, the UMM is fully on board with the prayer ministry’s transition and is excited about the new possibilities.
Neal says the UMM’s partnership with the prayer center will not only continue but will expand “because we see the need.” With the global accessibility of the prayer wall, “every individual can go out there and respond.”
Kirby also expressed her excitement about how the prayer wall “expands the ability to reach more people in need of prayer.”
On April 30, Ms. Bethonia Fair from Chicago, Illinois, took the last phone line prayer request. The Upper Room wishes to express its heartfelt gratitude to all the prayer line volunteers who have served over the past 42 years, praying for thousands, perhaps millions, of people by name and need. The Living Prayer Center invites all of its volunteers to continue their ministry by praying for people on the prayer wall.
“Our prayer ministry on behalf of the world is more important than ever,” says Pérez.