This question was emailed to me in regard to how to inquire about prayer requests for those you might visit in homes. I thought I would address this for all to see both to encourage you to be visiting folks and to know one way to provide a comfortable approach that would allow someone to share openly and honestly with you when you visit. You can ask general questions, but the probing ones I would ask are in these 3 categories:
Physical needs. These are sickness and health issues with themselves, family, and friends. Travel, finances, and other things along these lines would fall into a physical needs category. These are the things most people are prone to share and usually jump to their minds first.
Spiritual needs: These take a bit more effort to pull out of people, but it makes them think about praying for their spiritual life and growth. Struggles with sin, love for Christ and His Word, trusting God’s goodness and sovereignty, ways to cultivate a love for God’s people are all excellent templates to gain more specific requests.
Evangelistic needs: Ask about their efforts to build relationships with others so to share the gospel. Ask who in their family is hostile to the gospel. Inquire about a neighbor, or friend they know that does not follow Christ. Are they burdened by a particular missionary or area of the world with few Christians that exist? This also provides an opportunity to follow-up with them in a few months to see if any more effort has been made with those non-Christians they shared a burden for.
I find these 3 categories helpful to get a good variety of requests as well as push our people to think beyond praying for “Aunt Millie’s dog.” While you are there, read Scriptures where Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles are instructing the church how to pray. These 3 categories can also be a helpful template to lead small group prayer time and any public gathering where prayer requests are shared openly from the congregation during services.