PrayerMate is the perfect tool for those churches who want to encourage a culture of prayerfulness but aren’t sure how to go about it. It is really easy to get started and set up your feed (more of that later!), and once you’ve done this, you can add as many prayer points as you like!
It is also a great way for organisations who are already distributing printed prayer calendars to reduce their carbon footprint (and printing costs!), as well as increasing engagement and measuring effectiveness through using modern technology.
Getting started with PrayerMate is really straightforward. Below we go through what you need to do to create your first feed and publish it!
To sign up, start by going to http://www.prayermate.net/platform. The first step is to choose your organisation type: "Church", "Christian Organisation" or "Mission Agency" (Churches get a slightly different user interface for certain features). You then need to choose your price plan below - don't worry, you won't be billed until your free trial is up and you can change price plan at any time. Once you are ready, click on 'Get started now'.
Once you have registered, you will be taken to the dashboard page, where you can create your first feed or register to get started with groups:
For our purposes we will be discussing feeds here, but you might like to read our related post about the differences between feeds and groups.
How to schedule prayer points
Once you click on ‘Create new feed', it will ask you to select a feed style. You will be given three options and these are explained below:
Calendars have content scheduled for specific dates, which means that prayer points will only appear on the specific day that they are scheduled for. Once this day has passed, the content will disappear. This style works well if you have plenty of content for your feed and want to always have fresh prayers available for each day.
Newsletters publish new content as and when it is available, more like a blog. Prayer points remain on your feed and get prayed for until new points are published to replace them.
Day of the Month
This is the best format to use if your prayer points repeat every month, e.g. on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc., and once it is set up it is the least effort to maintain.
Importing your content from other sources
You can now begin to add your prayer points. You can either add them one by one using the form on the page or you can use the ‘Quick Import’ tool which you’ll find on one of the tabs. This is useful if you have a large number of prayer points to add and can save you a lot of time! There are full instructions and a handy video to explain how this works on the publishing site, but if you get stuck then just let us know and we can provide further guidance. We originally designed this for those who already produce a PDF prayer calendar or similar as a simple way of extracting the information without creating more work having to transfer it all over. Quick Import can understand a variety of formats, but if you have any queries about using it, then please let us know.
Remember to upload a photo and add a description for your prayer feed — to do this, just click on the ‘Edit Settings’ link on the right. We would really encourage you to think about what you write for your description and making sure it is engaging and informative as well as concise. It is often the first introduction a potential subscriber gets to see for your feed and could mean more prayer coverage.
Testing your feed
Once you’ve finished adding all your prayer points, then you will be given the option to test your feed, which we would always recommend doing! Some feeds can require a tweak or two in terms of formatting and this is definitely the time to do this rather than after you’ve made it public.
Choosing the right level of privacy/security for your feed
Determining what level of security you want for your feed is really important at this stage — you will be asked to select privacy settings which cannot be undone at a later stage and therefore would require setting a new prayer feed.
There are 3 main options when it comes to privacy for your prayer feeds on PrayerMate. These are explained below:
These are feeds that will feature in the public feed gallery on PrayerMate. Anyone can search for your feed and it will be listed under the category of your choice, i.e. UK Churches or World Mission for example. Anyone can click subscribe and instantly have access to your prayer feed.
If you select this option, your feed will not be listed in the public feed gallery and only people who have been given the URL or QR code can subscribe. The advantages of this mid-level of privacy is that it often provides sufficient privacy for most feeds but is really simple to manage from an admin perspective.
It does make it harder for potential subscribers to find your feed, however, and relies on them being given the URL code. You also can’t stop people sharing the URL code with people you wouldn’t necessarily want them to. There is also no way to revoke access once somebody has subscribed to your feed.
These require PrayerMate users to sign in to the app and receive explicit approval before they can access your feed. This is useful for those prayer feeds that contain sensitive or personal information, such as mission organisations working in countries hostile to the Christian faith. Secure feeds give you complete control over who is permitted to see your prayer content.
It is worth bearing in mind, however, that opting for a secure feed will mean that there is more admin involved, particularly if you are likely to have a large number of subscribers as every single request will need approval.
Getting your feed into the public gallery
You can now select the option to ’Get my feed in the app' - either at the bottom of the feed page, or if you select the "Grow" link in the right sidebar you will find it there. Once you have added the necessary details you can click to get your organisation reviewed by us, which is the final step before going live. We aim to action all approval requests within 72 hours.
How to publicise
There are a few different options for publicising your feed, all described on the "Grow" section linked from the right sidebar.
You can send users directly to your feed by sharing the custom landing page URL generated specifically for your organisation, or you can share the QR code. Users can either scan the QR code with their built in camera app / QR scanner, or within the PrayerMate app, if they press the "Add +" button and scroll to the bottom to choose ‘Subscribe using QR code’. They can then point their phone camera at the QR code to access the feed.
If you have been approved and added to the public gallery, people will easily be able to find your feed there by pressing the "Add +" button in the app and navigating to the relevant category.
If you are already publishing your prayer points on your website, we can import from RSS or iCalendar feeds — just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get it set up. We also have a publishing API available if that is of interest.
You can also access your usage stats through your account on the PrayerMate publishing site. These will tell you about how many subscribers you have and how many times your content has been prayed for in a Prayer Session. We’ve had feedback from a number of organisations who find this information really helpful in measuring the effectiveness of their prayer feeds. See below for an example of a stats page:
We hope that all helps you get started on PrayerMate! As always, if you have any questions or queries, feel free to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you at email@example.com.