You’re scrolling through your news feed on Facebook and you see it.
“Asking for prayers…”
It could be for a number of reasons. Someone has lost a loved one, has a job interview, or awaiting test results. It could be about what seems to be happening more often, a national tragedy. Almost immediately that post is filled with good-hearted people commenting “Praying!” or some variation of it.
Of course, I’m always compelled to type out that I’m praying, too. What kind of person would I be if I just scrolled on by the request?
A few years ago, I was about to comment with the obligatory, “Praying!” when a few thoughts stopped me in my tracks. You know those moments when you’re having a conversation with yourself? (Don’t pretend I’m the only one!)
“Why are you typing the word, instead of actually going to pray?”
In that moment, I had to admit to myself, although I cared for my friend and their needs, I was typing “Praying!” of obligation. So that I wouldn’t feel bad about seeing their need and not giving them an instant answer that I was praying. Sure, I’d given a quick “Lord, please Bless them” before typing. But was that enough? My friends deserved better intercessory prayer than a fleeting thought.
It was in that moment that I knew I needed to step back. I’d become a “Social Media Prayer Warrior” but my actual praying life didn’t fit or include the people who I continuously commented that I was praying for on Facebook. It wasn’t that I was lying. I did want to pray for them and did. But it wasn’t the convicting prayer that was deserved; it was far less.
I was always taught and truly believe that you can pray anywhere. Prayer can be simple and your heart is what matters most to God, no need to sound as if you have a Ph.D. in theology or a Baptist preacher. However; I had to wonder if I was more concerned with TYPING support than I was BEING supportive?
In being honest with myself, the answer was yes. It was easier to type “Praying!”, give a quick thought about the situation and continue on scrolling. I was guilty and wondered just how many people were just like me. More importantly, what could I do to change it?
On that day, my goal became to be more intentional about intercessory prayer. I told myself that no longer would I put obligation ahead of true prayer. In talking to my friends about this, I’ve found that it’s not just me! When it comes to social media, we’ve become conditioned to do certain things and typing “Praying!” as a show of support, with no real action behind it, is one of them.
Since then, I’ve been working on “unconditioning” myself from being just another “Social Media Prayer Warrior”:
- I carry a little notebook- a Prayer Journal- with me in my bag at all times.
- Because I’m human and I forget the notebook all the time, I also use a memo app on my phone, labeled “Prayer Journal”. (Evernote, S Note, and Memo are all good for this).
- Instead of typing “Praying”, I comment that I’m adding them to my prayer journal.
- I write down their name in my journal, either in my notebook or phone, immediately. If I can’t write it down immediately, I’ll save their post by clicking on the little arrow in the top right corner. You can revisit your “Saved” posts anytime.
- Once I have actually taken some time to pray for them, I send them a quick message to let them know and check on them.
Not only do I feel better about this process, but I actually can look back through my journal and pray for them daily- without needing social media to remind me that they’re in need. Not to mention, you can literally look back and see when prayers were answered (even if the answer was no!).
While I’d like you to think that I’m able to do this 100% of the time; that would be wrong. I’ve failed many times in this process. But the growth I’ve experienced, plus the way that I am able to be a better friend where it counts (praying + action where possible) both exceed my failures.
If this has been something you’ve identified as a struggle for you, I’d love for you to try it! Share how you’ve “unconditioned” yourself from the social media prayer norm.