Maintaining the diptychs

CyprianCyprian Shipmate
edited November 28 in Ecclesiantics
At my little mission, we commemorate the living and the departed during the litany each Saturday evening at Vespers (currently our only regular service), and we often add petitions for other needs.

People will often ask for prayers for a particular need but then not let us know when those prayers are no longer required. I don't want us to be stingy with our prayers but I cannot help but notice the ever-growing lists and the uncertainty about whether the people on them still need our petitions.

It's fairly straightforward for the departed. If they're from our community or close to people in our community, we pray for them at every service; if they're not from among our community we pray for them among the newly departed for the first forty days before allowing them to fall quietly off the list.

However, it becomes more difficult for the living. Those who are travelling and catechumens are fairly easy to keep track of but people often ask us for prayers for those who are sick, and we never hear from them again to say whether the people have got better or have died. Then, for a few weeks we continued to pray for an expectant mother whom I'm fairly sure must have given birth by now.

Would any of you be willing to share how this is handled in your own churches?


  • Design and print out a prayer request card. Make them give an expiration date for the prayers. Might work.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    My Place doesn’t have a good system for this, which is oddly frustrating. It seems like a simple enough thing, but no one seems to have figured out a good system. I think the prayer requests should just be removed after a certain period of time if the person or someone close to them hasn’t requested an extension.
  • My Place is small enough to know when people have stopped coming or have chosen to go elsewhere. Their lists get binned then.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    The rule here is that prayer requests stay on the list for a month, which seems to prevent us from praying endlessly for folks who have long since recovered or pegged out. However, one has to remember to update the list. I also periodically remind people that we do update the list, so if there is someone who still needs praying for they need to notify me.

    Faithful departed is another issue. I think about half the congregation would have the vapours if we prayed for the dead, however, we do give thanks for their life and witness. What usually seems to happen there is that if anyone known to the congregation dies we give thanks for them, and prayer for those who mourn them for a decent interval after we have found out that they have died.
  • I attended a neighboring parish and liked their approach: The “Please pray for” list noted that to keep the list current names will be dropped after 6 weeks, but anyone may add a name back for another 6 weeks by calling the office.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Many thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

    As a fairly new mission, we're still very small so most of our prayer requests come from outside our community, from people who know of us but don't worship with us. That can make keeping track somewhat difficult.

    I think having an expiry date is a good practice that would be good for us to adopt, otherwise the list will simply grow longer and longer, which wouldn't be a problem (what are we for if we can't pray for people?) apart from the uncertainty surrounding all of these names and whether the prayers are still required.

    People could renew the requests if they wish. For requests from among our own people, I can have a gentle conversation about how the person being prayed for is doing.

    In the near future, I think I'll introduce and encourage the practice of the people keeping their own diptychs for private use, as if/when we reach the point of having the Divine Liturgy, these will form an important part of that.
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