Reading the newspaper this weekend I scanned the selected tweets section and came across this one from comedian Chris Rock:
Forget the hashtags and the retweets. Japan is going through an obvious hardship so any prayers and support should be genuine (@notchrisrock)
It made me shuffle in my seat slightly. I had retweeted a ‘pray for Japan’ message earlier that day (admittedly without hashtag), because I felt so ill equipped to post anything worthwhile, but nonetheless I didn’t want to say nothing, either.
Always the problem – is saying nothing worse than saying an inadequate something? I still can’t answer this question, as my words feel ragingly inadequate in the face of other people’s suffering. And the fact that words are my ‘thing’ doesn’t help – what I don’t want to do is to fall into the trap about making it about me and how my words portray something.
Which reminds me of Jesus’ words about praying – going into your room, and closing the door, not standing on street corners spouting lengthy prayers for all to see. Probing question : if I pray on my blog, am I acting the puffed up scribe, more concerned with my words than the very thing I’m praying for?
Feeling uncomfortable? Me too. But I think discomfort is good. We should always keep an eye on our motives, especially the sub-conscious ones, slyly nipping in around the back.
Looking out Chris Rock’s twitterfeed I discover that his previous tweet was: ‘Damn shame how some of you who never pray, or don’t even believe in God talkin bout “ #PrayForJapan ” trying to get retweets‘, which does alter the emphasis slightly, but I’m almost glad I read the second tweet out of context, because it provoked me to think so much about the topic.
It’s great to join together in prayers in a way we couldn’t previously. Sometimes, typing a prayer into a keyboard and the vast network beyond feels in itself an act of prayer, but the nature of the technology we use means that it could easily become about the pray-ers and (horrors) the best prayers. Wherein I think we really have crossed the line and started ‘praying for appearances’. I want to be able to say ‘amen’ together, to pray together, while avoiding it becoming about ourselves. Which is as challenging in cyberspace as anywhere else.
I love sharing words in prayer, it’s a way I express myself to God among others, appreciating the fact we can all say ‘amen’ together and help each other express the concerns of our hearts. I just have to watch for those dastardly motives that slyly nip in round the back when I’m not looking.
As for the title of this post ‘can a retweet be a prayer?’, it gives me pause. Do I actually pray before I click ‘retweet’? Or am I doing it because I think I should or (horrors,again) because I want to look good? And I mean ‘good’ in all its fulness.
And now I feel genuinely moved to pray, but under the circumstances I hesitate, in turmoil. How to avoid the very thing I’m concerned about?
I’ll stick with the following:
Argh! Lord, help?!