Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a concern, a praise, a request for prayer, birth or death announcement, disease diagnosis, impending surgery etc. in a Facebook status.
Wow, all of you. (Yes I can see you, look out your window)
Now raise your hand if you’ve written in the comment thread any one of the following:
Sending prayers up
Praying for you
PTL (Praise The Lord)
I’ll be praying for you
Sending you my prayers
While telling someone you’re praying for them or asking people to pray for your situation are inherently a part of the Christian family, there is an element to this online behavior that can be flippant, careless and non-productive.
What am I talking about?
In a nutshell: Believers should mean what they say and say what they mean.
What is your motivation
It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of Facebook convenience. Read a status update, write ‘praying for you’ and we’re done. There are several motivations we could pinpoint behind writing one of the above comments, but I’ll mention two.
1. You are committed to your friends and honestly pray for their needs.
2. You fall to the temptation to be ‘seen’ on Facebook as a caring, loving, Godly person trumping the true need for intercessory prayer for an individual.
In John 17:9 Jesus is modeling intercessory prayer.
He’s praying on behalf of those who belong to Him. Does He boast that He’s praying for them? No. His motivations are pure, obviously. However it’s a challenge for us to examine why we are praying or writing that we’re praying.
We must ask ourselves ‘are my motivations pure?’
Going beyond a comment
We’ve all seen those status updates that are ambiguous, cryptic messages that usually end in a prayer request. You hate to comment because you don’t want notifications, so you like it, just to let the person know that they aren’t being ignored. We like and maybe say a quick prayer like “Lord be with ___________. You know the situation. In Your name we pray. Amen”
Is that good enough? It may be in some situations. But are we willing to follow-up if God places it on our heart?
As Christians we must move past sympathy likes or comments out of social media obligation. We should comment with truth and purpose.
Instead of a wall post done so everyone can see how caring you are, do things in private. Send a Facebook message, a text, an email or call if possible. A simple ‘God has placed you on my heart today, just wanted you to know that I’m praying for you and if there is anything you need, please let me know ‘ could impact their life for Christ.
Privately contacting someone about their needs, meeting their needs in person or via mail, means more than any braggadocios wall post we churn out, that all of our mutual friends will see.
Showing Christian concern is a valuable tool for reaching the lost or ministering to the spiritually weak. We’ve all been there and can remember the expressions of genuine Christian concern changing our perspective.
In Luke 5:16 we learn that Jesus would often slip away into the wilderness or deserted places and pray.
Don’t let the temporary, frivolous atmosphere of Facebook keep you from being intentional with your prayer.
When you see a post from someone requesting prayer or know of a life event add the request to a prayer journal OFFLINE. Notebooks and pens are still available. Write down the friend’s name, the need and add them to your devotion and prayer time. Being diligent about praying for others will help us forget about our own problems.
You may never know the outcome of the situation, however you can do your part to be a consistent, Godly friend who expresses genuine concern for others without attachments or expectations.