Monday, August 15, 2011

Prayer in a Status Update World

By now, I'm sure you've heard about the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair.  The quick recap - a nasty gust of wind hit an outdoor concert and the stage rigging fell on the audience.  As of now, 5 people died and 45+ people were treated for various injuries.  It certainly is a tragic occurrence and I want to make sure you, kind reader, know that I am saddened by these events and my thoughts are with the families and friends of these affected by the stage collapsing.

That said, this post is NOT about the stage collapsing.  This post is not meant to speak ill of anyone.  These events are simply the catalyst for something I noticed as these events unfolded across twitter and facebook.  I didn't notice it before, but now that I think about it, it certainly has become prevalent.

I refer to people posting status updates or tweeting something along the lines of "I am praying for the victims of this horrible event."  Watching post and tweet upon post and tweet about the stage collapsing, I noticed a lot of people said they were praying.  Which in this day and age, I guess I shouldn't come close to complaining about.  That's a good thing that people are legitimately praying for others safety and well-being.

 Still, I look back on the words in Matthew 6:5-6:
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

So, with that in mind, I'd like to take a look at how these verses apply in a Facebook/Twitter world. Or even if they do.

As I write this, I'm worried I may offend with my thoughts.  Honestly, I'm not sure what I think or believe about this right now.  I'm probably writing this down to get my thoughts out and eventually come to a conclusion.

So the crux of the situation is when we announce on Facebook, "I'm praying for the victims of..."  aren't we being the "hypocrites" Christ was talking about?  I'm sure the intention is sincere in offering our prayers.  But, aren't we still sincere in our prayers without announcing via tweet?  Are we doing it so publicly so other will see it and think we're a good person?

I don't think the prayer is any less sincere by any means.  Still, why do we feel the need to announce it?  Perhaps I'm being too cold to the victims of what ever tragedy we are praying for.  It probably helps to know that people are praying for them.  So, maybe I'm being too shallow.

Then again, for example, I don't know anyone who was at the State Fair when the rigging collapsed.  So, if I were to tweet my prayers and condolences how do I know the victims would see it?  So, I come back to the thought that we post our prayers so others will see how much of a good, caring person we are.  And I hate that is where I am at with this because that leads to the thought that we're only praying so others will see that we are good, caring people.

Ok, how about this?  Perhaps for all the people tweeting their prayers, there's others who aren't.  Perhaps, there is a larger, silent group of people who mourn and pray for those affected by tragic circumstances.  I'd like to believe that notion.

Don't get me wrong, it is nice to see a large swatch of my friends show their humanity.  I am a lucky person to have such wonderful, caring people in my life.  And, now, here's the revelation - I just hope they aren't looking my status updates asking "why doesn't he pray for these victims?"  "He's not a good person because he hasn't shown that he cares about these people."  Ok, people likely don't even notice.  Which is fine because God does.

And that's my point.

Do you think that Heaven has WiFi?

One point I don't think I really make above is that prayer status updates is really just a form of slacktivism.  Here's a definition:  "the act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem."  And, that's my problem with prayer status updates.  It makes the poster feel all good to publicly support a cause, but does absolutely nothing to actually support that cause.

Daily Blessings:
  • I was on the right side of a discussion at work today and by right side I mean the same opinion as the GM.  Ok, I was also on the right side of how to handle the situation...
  • I've decided to choose to not to have a cigarette.  It's been nearly 2 weeks.  I don't say I quit though because that sets up for disappointment when I inevitablely give in.  But deciding to choose not to smoke is more empowering, and I'm more likely to continue to choose not to light up.
  • My wife for the last month or so of Mondays has let me watch WWE Raw without complaining, even sitting in the same room with me as I watch.

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