PrayBox+ Reaches Across The Planet

Over the past several months, I have been working on what has become the PrayBox project. Originally, my vision was that it would become an anonymous prayer request exchange network and that it would attract prayer warriors who were interested in the business of lifting up the needs of others to the Author of Creation.

Eventually, it became clear that this application would be better implemented as an application used by churches, ministries, and other faith-based organizations to build community and increase the opportunity for outreach.

Today, as I’ve been reading through emails I have received over the past few months, I have been overcome by humility, realizing that the inspiration that came to me so many months ago and the hard work that I have put into developing this tool have been used to touch lives and serve ministries across the planet.

Praise God for his faithfulness and willingness to use His people to fulfill his plans!

Sincerely,

The PrayBox Team

Praise Reports feature

Here’s how the “Praise Reports” feature works:

  • Requestor submits a prayer request and an email is sent to the Requestor which contains a private link that they can use to edit/close their prayer request and submit a Praise Report.
  • When the prayer request has been answered, the requestor can click on that link, check the box that says “I would like to close this prayer request,” enter the text for their praise report, and submit that form.
  • Prayer requests that have been closed are added to the list of available praise reports, which is accessible by the site administrator by logging into the WP Dashboard and clicking on the “Praise Reports” item in the PrayBox+ menu.
  • To show a particular praise report, the administrator clicks on the “Show” button corresponding to the request/praise report that has been submitted. To hide a particular praise report, the administrator clicks on the “Hide” button corresponding to the request/praise report.
  • The praise reports that the administrator has selected to be shown are displayed on the page containing the
    Prayer RequestPraise Report
    prayer for my brother ChuckSubmitted By: Anonymous
    Please pray for my brother Chuck. He's in severe pain and went to the hospital last night. They are scheduling for his gall bladder to be removed. He is not employed and neither is his wife Diane. If you could please keep Chuck, Diane and their daughter Sophia and Sunny in prayer I would really appreciate it.My brother is doing well as he has healed nicely from this surgery. Thank you for all of the prayers!
    HealingSubmitted By: Anonymous
    Having eye surgery needs healing - please also pray for friend Jan has just hurt her back - please pray healing of back & skin irritation & pray for miracle breakthrough in finances so business does not have to go bankrupt. Note this sister does tithe & faithfully bless others so in need of a breakthrough miracle. Thank YouThank You for praying surgery succesful. Jan also healed & had small breakthrough still believing for total miracle so does not have to declare bankruptsy. God is faithful Amen
    dying of AIDSSubmitted By: Joyce Jacobsen
    A friend's son, 47 years old, who as a child professed Christ, is now dying of AIDS and refusing to let anyone come pray with him. The mother is asking Jesus to speak with him and soften his heart.The morning of his death, he said he did not want morphine and asked his sister to call his mom to come. The mother sat at her son's bedside and during his last hours, he received forgiveness for his sins and turned back to Christ. She is a dedicated Christian and says that she is rejoicing in God. God had told her 6 months ago that "nothing is impossible for God". This has also been a testimony to his twin and a lesbian friend that was present at his bed side. The mother and I thank you for the prayers on her son's behalf.
    Healing for Edward and BobSubmitted By: Cathy Cornett
    Edward Harris (58) had a massive stroke and is on life support - we are speaking healing and restoration over him.
    Bob has battled brain cancer for about 3 years - doctors said he should be dead, he's determined to beat it. Current tumor is on the brain stem and inoperable, now affecting his motor skills on his left side. Wife doesn't want him back home, he's in a nursing home - in his 50's. Healing and restoration needed. Both men are believers.
    Both have moved to Heaven!
    Prayers for Healing and restored healthSubmitted By: Anonymous
    I have a serious back condition as well as fibromyalgia and sciatica. I have been in pain and restricted physically for over a year. Please ask our wonderful Lord and Savior for Healing. thank you.The prayers have helped tremendously, my pain is reduced and finally able to rebuild some strength and stamina. Thank you so much, you are wonderful.
    Miraculous Total Healing for Kelsie!Submitted By: Anonymous
    Please Blessed Jesus, I pray for a miracle healing for your daughter Kelsie Lee. She has suffered through 3 bouts of breast cancer and is now in hospice. I know Jesus it's still not too late for you to touch her and heal her fully here and now. I stand in total faith for her healing and I give you praise and thanks for healing her and restoring her to health and life through Your Precious Blood I pray. AMEN and AMEN!

    Kelsie passed away a few days ago. We thank all who prayed for her. She is no longer suffering and we are eternally thankful to Our Lord!
    University OffersSubmitted By: Aagi Jacob
    Please pray for me so i can get an offer from one of my chosen universities. Thankyou so much i received three offers from which one of the offers being my first choice. May God Bless You
    shortcode.

NOTE: Praise Reports must be manually selected to “show” in the praise report list by the administrator. This is on purpose. As the developer of this plugin and a Christian, I have carefully considered my responsibilities and feel that it is important to be diligent in protecting the reputation of our Lord. Sometimes, when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way that we would like him to, instead of giving him praise, we doubt his wisdom and lash out against him. To keep your websites from potentially displaying someone’s anger towards the Lord, I have made it necessary for praise reports to be selected by the administrator before they are shown to the world on your sites. This also allows you to weed out the junk that is sometimes submitted by amateur comedians who haven’t thought things through before submitting comical, silly, or otherwise inappropriate praise reports.

What To Do Before Upgrading To Premium

Did you have a fatal error occur right after upgrading to that fancy premium plugin?

Chances are, it’s not the plugin. There is one step many people seem to overlook when upgrading to the premium version of a plugin – uninstalling the free version!

That’s it! Do that one step and the installation process will go smoothly and those sweet, juicy premium features will be impressing your audience before you know it! But just in-case you didn’t catch it the first time:

Uninstall the previous version of a plugin BEFORE installing the premium one!

Cacheing and WordPress Plugins

Help! For some reason my plugin hasn’t been updating correctly!

Well my friends, that may very well be the result of using a cacheing plugin on your WordPress website. While it’s true that using a cacheing plugin can help decrease the loading time for your website, it’s only truly helpful if you use it correctly. Let’s take some time to discuss these cacheing plugins and what they can do to your WordPress plugins.

What exactly does cacheing do?

It takes information and stores it so that the website doesn’t have to load that information the next time you view it. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, depending on how it is used.

For instance, if one were to cache his or her javascript, that would be a good thing. The javascript remains static unless changes are deliberately made. However, for more dynamic content (like our PrayBox+ or Paid Business Listings+ plugins), cacheing can actually prevent your plugins from working properly.

But why?

The cacheing plugin will do exactly what it was made for, storing data so it won’t have to load it again at a later time. Since the information has already been stored, it won’t bother updating it, even when new information comes around.

So cacheing plugins can be helpful to websites with a lot of content, but only when used correctly. Otherwise it may actually inhibit some of the more dynamic plugins’ abilities to function.

Why Aren’t My Praise Reports Showing Up?

Having trouble getting your Praise Reports to show up?

Well, first let’s go over what Praise Reports are exactly. The opportunity to display Praise Reports is a feature that comes with the premium version of PrayBox, (PrayBox+). This unique feature allows an admin to display Closed or Archived Prayer Requests on a separate page. This is an excellent way of showing your church or ministries’ most sincere and special Prayer Requests.

So how do I use Praise Reports?

All it takes to display your favorite Prayer Requests is to make a page titled “Praise Reports” or something similar, then put in the appropriate shortcode

Prayer RequestPraise Report
prayer for my brother ChuckSubmitted By: Anonymous
Please pray for my brother Chuck. He's in severe pain and went to the hospital last night. They are scheduling for his gall bladder to be removed. He is not employed and neither is his wife Diane. If you could please keep Chuck, Diane and their daughter Sophia and Sunny in prayer I would really appreciate it.My brother is doing well as he has healed nicely from this surgery. Thank you for all of the prayers!
HealingSubmitted By: Anonymous
Having eye surgery needs healing - please also pray for friend Jan has just hurt her back - please pray healing of back & skin irritation & pray for miracle breakthrough in finances so business does not have to go bankrupt. Note this sister does tithe & faithfully bless others so in need of a breakthrough miracle. Thank YouThank You for praying surgery succesful. Jan also healed & had small breakthrough still believing for total miracle so does not have to declare bankruptsy. God is faithful Amen
dying of AIDSSubmitted By: Joyce Jacobsen
A friend's son, 47 years old, who as a child professed Christ, is now dying of AIDS and refusing to let anyone come pray with him. The mother is asking Jesus to speak with him and soften his heart.The morning of his death, he said he did not want morphine and asked his sister to call his mom to come. The mother sat at her son's bedside and during his last hours, he received forgiveness for his sins and turned back to Christ. She is a dedicated Christian and says that she is rejoicing in God. God had told her 6 months ago that "nothing is impossible for God". This has also been a testimony to his twin and a lesbian friend that was present at his bed side. The mother and I thank you for the prayers on her son's behalf.
Healing for Edward and BobSubmitted By: Cathy Cornett
Edward Harris (58) had a massive stroke and is on life support - we are speaking healing and restoration over him.
Bob has battled brain cancer for about 3 years - doctors said he should be dead, he's determined to beat it. Current tumor is on the brain stem and inoperable, now affecting his motor skills on his left side. Wife doesn't want him back home, he's in a nursing home - in his 50's. Healing and restoration needed. Both men are believers.
Both have moved to Heaven!
Prayers for Healing and restored healthSubmitted By: Anonymous
I have a serious back condition as well as fibromyalgia and sciatica. I have been in pain and restricted physically for over a year. Please ask our wonderful Lord and Savior for Healing. thank you.The prayers have helped tremendously, my pain is reduced and finally able to rebuild some strength and stamina. Thank you so much, you are wonderful.
Miraculous Total Healing for Kelsie!Submitted By: Anonymous
Please Blessed Jesus, I pray for a miracle healing for your daughter Kelsie Lee. She has suffered through 3 bouts of breast cancer and is now in hospice. I know Jesus it's still not too late for you to touch her and heal her fully here and now. I stand in total faith for her healing and I give you praise and thanks for healing her and restoring her to health and life through Your Precious Blood I pray. AMEN and AMEN!

Kelsie passed away a few days ago. We thank all who prayed for her. She is no longer suffering and we are eternally thankful to Our Lord!
University OffersSubmitted By: Aagi Jacob
Please pray for me so i can get an offer from one of my chosen universities. Thankyou so much i received three offers from which one of the offers being my first choice. May God Bless You
. But you’re not done yet! After this step, you have be sure to go to the “Praise Reports” section of the PrayBox+ plugin and click Show or Hide on any Prayer Requests that you want to display.

But my Prayer Requests aren’t in the Praise Reports section?

If this is the case, chances are you haven’t Closed or Archived that particular Prayer Request. Remember, you can only show a Praise Report on a Prayer Request that is no longer active, otherwise the Report would be liable to change which would defeat the purpose!

Further Questions?

For more information, try checking out our PrayBox+ Documentation.

Maintaining WordPress And WordPress Plugins

Are you experiencing issues with any of your WordPress plugins that seem intermittent or unpredictable?
Do you find that some of the WordPress plugins you are using seem to be behaving oddly and you can’t seem to find out exactly what the problem is?

First of all, let me explain that a WordPress-based website is not necessarily something that you can just set up and forget about. Theoretically, it’s possible to set up a WordPress website, add your content, and just let it go, but for a variety of reasons, it’s important to make sure that you do some regular maintenance on all of your WordPress sites to keep them running optimally:

Ongoing WordPress Maintenance Suggestions:
  • At least once a month (if not more frequently) make sure you update the WordPress core and any plugins for which updates are available. This will keep you up to date with the advanced functionality provided by WordPress and any plugins you have installed, as well as make sure that you have the latest security-related updates that may be in the code (this may keep your site from being hacked).
  • At least once a month, click through your WordPress site and make sure everything looks right. Sometimes, you may notice that a widget or plugin or some other aspect of your website isn’t doing what it’s supposed to, and if you discover this, it’s a good opportunity to do a bit of research to see if you may need to replace a plugin with something that provides better features or may be updated more frequently (frequent plugin updates are often a sign that the developer is either adding functionality or fixing bugs… both of these are good things).
  • At least once every 3-4 months look through your plugins and see if any of them have become obsolete because of some advanced functionality that has been built into the WordPress core or is better provided by another plugin that you’re using. WordPress custom menus, for instance, made a TON of WordPress plugins obsolete because it allowed folks to create custom menus that only show links to certain pages… so if you were using a plugin that “hid” pages or rearranged your nav menu, it’s possible that this new WP core functionality provided you with a better way to achieve this.
  • Delete unnecessary plugins. While providing WP support for some of my clients, I often log on to their admin dashboard and see that they have WAY TOO MANY plugins installed or activated. It’s very normal to have a bunch of plugins installed during the development phase of a new WP site, because you often have to test functionality and usability of different plugins and want to compare features and stuff, but once you’ve identified the plugins you want to use, delete the ones you’re not using. This will help you keep your WordPress plugins list pretty and concise.
  • Don’t use too many plugins if you can help it. It’s my personal opinion that if you have to use 12 plugins to achieve the functionality that you want for your website, then use 12 plugins… If you start to see your plugins list grow to 20 or 30 or … 50 (yikes), you’re getting in way too deep. It’s probably very likely that there’s a way that you can consolidate some of your plugins (i.e. find a single plugin that does what 5 of your plugins do together…).

In closing, I’ll point out that I’ve logged into more than one admin dashboard where the site owner has installed 5 different SEO plugins, for instance… because they figured that it would somehow magically drive millions of hits to their website. Without going into unnecessary explanation, and keeping with the SEO plugin example, I’ll say very simply that 99.9999% of the time, using a single SEO plugin correctly will give you infinitely better results than using 5 SEO plugins incorrectly… and it will most likely perform better than the 5 plugins EVEN IF you use them correctly.

Custom Styles For WordPress Plugins

Quite often, I receive questions from plugin users asking me why they are having problems with the way that their plugins appear. Almost always, their requests for support begin with “I found a problem with your plugin…” or “There’s a bug in [name of plugin] …”

I would like to provide some background information that may be helpful regarding why this kind of thing happens and how you can quite easily (in most cases) resolve issues of this type.

Why do some WordPress plugins cause my website to look messed up?

Thank you for asking! In order to answer this question properly, I really need to explain the difference between WordPress plugins and WordPress themes.

WordPress plugins provide functionality. The functionality that plugins provide can be anything from an API interface for your Facebook page or a system that allows you to manage prayer requests on your website (like PrayBox+).

WordPress themes provide interface components. Interface components are usually associated with colors, images, backgrounds, layout elements, and graphics of that nature that have to do with your overall website look and feel.

The descriptions of plugins and themes above is rather simplistic, and, in the purest sense, may be true; however, it’s almost impossible to find a plugin that doesn’t in some way HAVE to provide graphic elements such as CSS for layout of some of the functionality that it provides or a theme that doesn’t implement functionality in some way, shape, form, or fashion. As a result of the fact that some of these lines cross, occasionally, it’s quite possible that some aspects of your theme, for instance, may require a little tweaking when it comes to the way that your plugin appears within the context of your theme.

How do we tweak our themes in order to accommodate our plugins?

Once again, thank you for asking! It’s really quite easy, in most cases, to tweak your theme’s main CSS file in order to adjust the plugin’s appearance. Although I’m not going to get into it at this point, it’s a good idea to understand CSS specificity, as it can be quite helpful when it comes to making tweaks of this sort. Basically, you want to find out which attributes in the plugin’s CSS file are causing the plugin to conflict with your theme and override them.

Here’s how we do it… as an example, I’ll use a website that was experiencing this problem with my Prayer Request Management plugin, PrayBox. As you can see in the image below, the theme being used on the website has a dark image in the background, and therefore, white text. Since this is a bit atypical, I designed the PrayBox plugin to display prayer requests with a light background, and you can see the results of the conflict when used in the context of this particular theme.
praybox-css-example-before

As we begin, you need to get something like Firebug (if you’re using Firefox) or some other tool (or, if you’re an HTML ninja, looking at the source code of your blog, although this will take much longer) that allows you to identify the CSS attributes that are causing the conflict.

Second, use Firebug (or whatever tool you have chosen) to select the component that needs to be overridden. You’ll see something similar to the image below when you highlight the element causing the conflict:
praybox-css-example-firebug
As you can see in the bottom panel, we’ve identified the attributes of the table with the class “details” in the div with the id “praybox” as causing the conflict, because (as you can see on the right side of the bottom panel) the background-color attribute is defined as “#E6E6E6”.

So what we must do is override the style for “#praybox table.details” … we do this by finding our theme’s main stylesheet (it’s usually called “style.css” and is located in your theme’s folder which is located in “/wp-content/themes/”).

Once you have located the “style.css” file in your theme’s folder, go down to the very bottom of that file and insert something like this:

/* Custom PrayBox Styles */

This will basically help you find the custom styles that we are about to define if we need to in the future.

Immediately below this line, go ahead and type the identifier of the element that we want to modify. In this case, our custom styles area is going to look something like this:

#praybox table.details { }

In between the squiggly brackets, we define the attribute for the element with whatever we want to use instead and make sure we use “!important” after the attribute definition… like this:

#praybox table.details { background-color: #000 !important; }

Once you’ve done this and have saved your “style.css” file, you should be able to reload the page and see your changes… you may actually have to refresh or clear cache or something, as CSS information is often kept in your browser’s cache…

Oh yeah, and you may want to make sure that you’ve temporarily disabled any plugins that you may have installed on your WordPress site that cache page content… because as long as those caching plugins are active, you’re not going to see the results of any changes to your stylesheet.

One More Thing… Why Not Make Changes to the Plugin’s CSS File?

Yet another wonderful question… you are a very sharp student! Very simply, the reason why we don’t want to make changes to the plugin’s CSS file is twofold:

  1. The changes that you’re making are only really relevant when the plugin is being used with that theme. If you install another theme, you would likely want to define different attributes for the plugin.
  2. Whenever you update a plugin, it’s very likely that the CSS file for that theme will be overwritten… and then, you’ve gotta go back in and make the changes all over again.

I hope that this post has been helpful and will be useful for you in the future. By mastering the skills associated with customizing styles for WordPress plugins, you can actually do some really amazing things.