Rowan Helping Ministry clients share prayer requests
By Katie Scarvey
Some of them feature the large rounded letters that suggest they were written by a teenage girl.
Some are in small, spidery writing that hints they were penned by someone older, perhaps with shaking hands.
Some are scrawled with no punctuation; others exhibit a sophisticated vocabulary.
They are prayer requests received at Rowan Helping Ministries.
For a church to offer acceptance.
Volunteer Gail Kimball has been reading and getting these prayer requests out to churches for about three years.
The staff at Rowan Helping Ministries collects the prayers each week from a box and lifts them up during a prayer circle at their Monday morning staff meeting. Kimball then picks them up once a month and reads them, editing out any personal information, like last names.
She then takes 30 or 31 envelopes and distributes the prayers evenly in them. Usually, an envelope will contain from two to six prayer requests.
Each night during the next month, the group of volunteers that has been responsible for the meal and laundry that night will take one of the envelopes with the prayer requests. Church groups often work the requests into their services, Kimball says. Sunday school classes also attend to the prayer requests.
Kimball has been moved by what is expressed in the prayer requests she sees.
Although there are some specific requests, she says — such as “please let me get my disability check on Thursday” or “I need a car” — they generally go beyond an individual’s needs, she says.
They might say, “Help me strengthen my family,” or “Help my nephew get off drugs.”
Kyna Foster, executive director at Rowan Helping Ministries, says the prayers suggest a reliance on faith that she sees as a commonality among people.
“The prayers are so similar to prayers that I say,” she says.
“What stands out is the humbleness of the prayer in general, because people have kind of reached a bottom.”
But the petitioners don’t typically ask God to solve a problem, she says, adding that she also hasn’t come across any that used the language of negotiation.
“It’s more, ‘Here’s where I am, and please help.’”
Sometimes, the shelter guests offer prayers of thanksgiving, with expressions of gratitude for the help and opportunities they are being offered.
“That’s humbling and heartwarming,” Foster says.
A lot of them are heartbreaking, Kimball says, but nevertheless “show an amazing amount of faith.”
Sometimes, they’re simple: “God knows what I need.”
The idea of prayer, Foster says, “speaks to who we are at Rowan Helping Ministries.”
“It’s about showing God’s love and demonstrating his faithfulness.
“We see prayers work here. We see miracles. People find jobs, people find healing, and people recover from challenges.
“What I love about Rowan Helping Ministries is that we start our meetings with prayer. It’s an integral part of who we are as a ministry, relying on God’s grace. It’s about showing God’s love and demonstrating his faithfulness. Part of that is lifting others up in prayer.”
Kimball is convinced that when the prayers go out to the churches, they are “well cared-for.” Volunteers are so reliable in manning the shelter that she believes they’re equally trustworthy in addressing the prayer requests they receive.
Foster says she has fond memories of a prayer chain at her church when she was growing up, with people telephoning others when someone needed prayers. Now, information can get out faster through emails and newsletters, she says.
You can sign up for the Rowan Ministries prayer chain at www.rowanhelpingministries.org.