Because they are small and can be stored easily in a pocket or purse, prayer cards have mass appeal. They resemble playing cards, with a prayer on one side and a religious scene on the reverse side. People have used them to mark or offer encouragement for the following specific occasions.
When someone dies, the deceased person’s family and friends are typically considering what kind of photos and information will go in the printed program handed out at the memorial service. Some families opt for bookmarks or for prayer cards to remember their loved one. They place a photo of the loved one on one side of the card and a prayer or inspirational writing on the reverse. The cards are intended to give service-goers a more preservable keepsake and to tie the deceased’s life and accomplishments to specific text.
Years after the loved one has been gone, it is easier to remember them with these cards. Paper programs tend to get damaged or worn and become tough to read. Cards are printed on a thicker card stock and can withstand some wear. A common place to put them is in a wallet so that they can be easily accessed.
For the Sick
Prayer cards complement the popular church practice of visiting the sick and shut-in. Sick parishioners cannot attend services or hear sermons and often do not have many tangible reminders of their faith near them. The cards give them scriptures, religious quotes and other words of wisdom to assist their healing. Many congregation members who have been sick keep the cards long after they receive them to remember the words that assisted their recovery and to remember the kind deeds their friends showed them during their illnesses.
In an effort to actively recruit new members and continually spread the teachings of their faith, some parishioners take on the task of canvassing neighborhoods. They go door-to-door to talk to people about their faith and offer them a place to fellowship with others and worship. Prayer cards are a very convenient was to start a conversation.
Some of the cards could contain more than the usual religious image and prayer. For children, cards are made that depict the major stories of the Bible. These cards serve as learning aids and assist the young person’s recall of those stories. Cards can also show parables for adults and quote the lessons that are intended with each parable. It is easy to relate to a particular faith when you have stories that may mirror those from your own life.
Cards with prayers have also been used as mementos for baptisms and confirmations in some denominations. They are a way to mark the occasion and ensure everyone keeps a focus. In some cases, the card becomes the text for a recitation. People know that they have a keepsake that binds them to all the other attendants at an event or ceremony when they have a prayer card. They also know they can look back for many years to come.