“We will pray for you.”
“You are in our prayers.”
Look familiar? It should. Those are the words often written in the comments section of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media. Someone we know shares a problem, a challenge, a prayer request and we have to make a decision. Do we respond or not? Do we just click the ‘like’ button and move on or take a minute to leave a comment? If we leave a comment, what do we say? If we say we’re praying for them, are we? Will we?
Jesus shared this advice about prayer in the context of not doing charitable deeds before men to be seen by them.
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6
Jesus said that if people pray to be seen by others, they “have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Why? Because hypocritical people do that “that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:1-2) That seems like good advice when we consider commenting publicly on social media about our intentions to ‘pray’ for someone, but how does that affect us in a social media setting?
So there’s no misunderstanding, Jesus was not suggesting people don’t pray. He was sharing insights into how God rewards people who pray. Pray with the right heart attitude for the right reasons. Jesus wants us to pray. In fact, in that same context of not praying like hypocrites or heathen, Jesus taught people how to pray in a way that pleases the Father.
“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:9-13
So, given those insights into prayer from our Lord and Savior, would it be better to pray for people who post their problems, concerns and challenges in social media without telling them we’re praying for them? Should we just ‘like’ their post or not even do that?
We’ve already seen what Jesus Christ taught about prayer, what the disciples of Christ taught about prayer during their ministries and what the Apostle Paul taught, and what Paul wrote to churches and church leaders about prayer. Now let’s see what the other apostles wrote about prayer to see what we can learn about how to approach prayer through social media contacts.
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:13-18
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” 1 Peter 4:7
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.” 1 John 5:14-17
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 1:20-21
Before we end this series on the social media and prayer I think it’s important to think about what happens to our prayers on earth. Are they gone? Does only God remember them? Are they recorded? Here’s what the Apostle John learned during the Revelation.
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Revelation 5:8
“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:3-4
Our prayers are recorded in Heaven and will be shared during the last days. What we say on earth is important for this time, the next time and for eternity. That’s how special our prayers are to God. As we pray or promise to pray, may we remember the vital role they play in God’s purpose and plan.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”