Wahroonga, New South Wales
Hundreds of prayer requests from around the world are received each week by a volunteer ministry operating from the Adventist Media offices at Wahroonga.
I remember a lady from Alaska who was quite depressed and lonely. She started her prayer request by saying, ‘Thank you so much for praying for a stranger.’ That really touched my heart.
PrayerOnline was set up a number of years ago but last year received an upgrade that has enabled volunteers to respond individually to those requesting prayer.
Volunteer Sue Robinson said they receive about 200 requests each week from people living in places such as India, the US, Great Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, parts of Africa, even as far as Alaska.
“I remember a lady from Alaska who was quite depressed and lonely,” Mrs Robinson said. “She started her prayer request by saying, ‘Thank you so much for praying for a stranger.’ That really touched my heart.
“One of the interesting things is when I first started there were hardly any requests from Australia and I was really curious about that. Lately the Australian prayers have increased and so that has been really heartening.”
Volunteer Andrew McQuillan said the requests are most often related to relationship breakdowns, depression, financial challenges and illness. Responding to these situations is not an easy task.
“It’s sobering to think of the desperate plight of the people because you do find that people are in terrible relationships, very lonely or depressed, and feel there’s no future,” he said.
Mrs Robinson similarly encounters many heartbreaking stories. “I have been very touched with a lot of requests that have come from India from women in arranged marriages who have been very mistreated,” she said. “I have been sad to see some of their situations and how they have been made like slaves with no love, and all the family expecting them to do everything.”
In her responses, she usually incorporates a Bible text she feels is relevant to the situation. “The other thing we do if appropriate is direct them to one of our Discovery courses or to literature that is online. In particularly difficult situations, we encourage people to get professional medical help.
“After I have responded to them, then I go privately and pray individually for each of the people.”
Encouragingly, the volunteers will every so often hear back from the people for whom they have prayed. “Since we have started I have had about 300 people come back to me from the prayer requests, just to say thank you,” Mrs Robinson said.
“The other thing that has been nice is that with some of the people we have developed an ongoing relationship.”
PrayerOnline is a volunteer ministry supported by Hope Channel. To find out more go to <prayeronline.org.au>.