Are you surprised when you discover that many recipients of your prayer letters don’t read them? Here are six ways you can make them better right now. Your supporters will thank you for it. (I’m going to assume that you send them via email, but they will improve hard copies too!)
1. Make your Prayer Letter Scan-able.
Without reading carefully, your supporters should be able to quickly find your brief prayer requests in a bulleted list. The first sentence of the prayer request should be in bold and adequately summarize the request. You can then add some more detail in regular text, but the bold summary should be enough. The goal is to make it easy for them to pray for your requests!
2. Don’t send a “Dear John,” – You aren’t breaking up.
Some say that recipients pyschologically like to see their name at the top of the letter in the greeting. Unless you hand write all of your prayer letters, people know that they are receiving a mass mailing, so don’t pretend otherwise.
3. One page only!
Yes, that means you. No, your prayer requests and stories are not so awesome that they require more than one page. No cheating with small font sizes, either! Leave people wanting more, and they can ask you for more information if they are interested. It will also keep them interested in your next prayer letter. Which, by the way…
4. Send a Prayer Letter every one or two months.
It must be regular and frequent enough that people consistently pray for you. Any less frequently, and you might send updates only when it’s convenient for you. When that happens, people start to think that you take vacation and rest all the time! “We only seem to hear from these missionaries when they are on vacation, or need money…” I’ve heard it from supporters about missionaries! Also, with low frequency, people won’t hear how their prayers are answered. Nothing keeps people prayin’ like seeing how their prayers are answered. So…
5. Include an answer to a previous month’s prayer request.
Look at last month’s prayer requests. Give a one to three sentence update on how that request has been answered or how the situation has progressed.
6. Your Requests should be “hard,” not “soft.”
Avoid vague, “soft,” spiritual phrases like: spiritual conversation, establishing a foothold, influencing the community, etc. Instead, try “hard” descriptions that say exactly what you have been doing: shared the gospel, prayed in Jesus’ name for a person, studied this Bible passage with them, gave food to somebody, gave a specific medical treatment to somebody, etc. At least one of your requests should involve specific actions you have taken.
Related to this, do not include your own “spiritual journey” story every month. I’m sure you are learning lots of great things from the Lord, but from a supporter’s perspective, supporters are not giving their hard earned dollars for your “spiritual journey.”
Put just one of these tips into practice, and your supporters will thank you too.