When I first began in missions many years ago, prayer cards were expensive and time-consuming. Today, I whip them out in about an hour and they arrive in whatever quantity I choose directly to any Stateside. What a difference!
Techniques of the Past
My first prayer card was printed by professional printers who specialized in, you guessed it, prayer cards! Our mission agency connected us with a few companies that would do this. We supplied a photo, chose from a preset layout, and filled in some text. Weeks later some nice, thick, but rather costly prayer cards arrived in the mail.
As technology progressed, we were able to use some simple prayer-card templates. Adding our photo and some text, I would place an order with some lower-cost printers who were still specialized in these sorts of things. Card-stock was still used and prices were still a bit high.
Those slow, costly days of prayer card creation are long gone. Here’s the current three-step method I use to save time, money, and aggravation.
Step One: Find a Photo
At least for me, the expense of paying a professional photographer for a posed photo is a thing of the past. In fact, posing at all is generally not necessary. Most of us have dozens if not hundreds of selfies and shots our friends have taken of us. It shouldn’t take long to choose a photo that you like of yourself somewhere in your country of service.
For many of us who either love to see ourselves in photos (and thus take a long time looking through our galleries) or hate the way we look (and thus take too long to find a satisfactory exemplar) this may be the hardest step.
Step Two: Make Your Own Layout
The number of photo editing software programs and apps out there has skyrocketed. You can pay big bucks, pay for quality templates, or you can just do-it-yourself on a freebee app.
For our most recent prayer card, I hustled over to Canva, clicked on “Create a Design” and then “Custom Size” and entered my prayer card preference of 6 inches by 4 inches. You can certainly look at all the pretty templates (free and for-a-fee), but I just chose to upload our photo, add some text here and there, and call it good.
Pro Note: Because the photo printing service I use isn’t always spot-on with cutting the photos down, I would recommend leaving a buffer of about ¼ inch on all sides of your text when making your design. That should keep any mis-cuts from running your lovely design.
Check your resulting design or, better still, have someone else lend their fresh eyes to check your work and then download your beautiful image to your computer.
Step Three: Order Your Prints
I’ve had pretty good luck with Snapfish for this step, but there are many others. It’s a pretty simple endeavor to upload your prayer card design, choose the size of your prints (for me, that’s still 6 inches by 4 inches), and order the quantity you desire. For the printing service, your upload is nothing more than a photo. Unless you specify something special, your prayer “card” will be a high-quality, one-sided print on photo paper.
While on Stateside trips, I have a batch of them sent to some friendly US address, so I can distribute them as I meet with people and speak in churches that partner with our ministry. When I can’t get to a church in person, I have occasionally just sent a package of cards directly to the congregation. Easy peasy.
A Note About Pricing
The prices at these photo printing hubs vary widely. At the very minimum, be sure to look for deals and discount codes on the website you are using. The fine print can save you money. I’ll often find deals on 99 photos as opposed to 100. Adding 1 more will increase the price dramatically. If you are a more aggressive shopper, doing a quick web search might gain you some additional coupon codes or free shipping offers.
For the truly savvy saver, clicking through a shopping portal almost always makes sense. I generally use TopCashBack as my go-to, but CashbackMonitor sometimes points me to another portal that has a special offer that beats even TopCashBack.
So that’s my cheap and easy, three-step process for making prayer cards in as little as an hour. Do you have a faster method? A cheaper way? Better tools? Drop us a note and let us know what you are using.