can a retweet be a prayer?

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.

Oh, I’m such a righteous soul, behold my retweet?

Or, as I mentioned earlier, am I expressing myself in someone else’s words – as people have been doing for centuries – in order to focus my prayers? The latter, I’m okay with. The former – eek.

Perhaps the key is to stick with the liturgies of the centuries – but sometime we do want to pray very specifically for something, or feel moved to use our own words. And then again, if we worry too much about our motives, we freeze up completely. And we don’t pray at all, which is not good. Gah. In all things, we need a healthy self awareness without getting paranoid about everything we do.

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?!

11 thoughts on “can a retweet be a prayer?

  1. Jessie Cherian says:

    I think it's great you picked up on the fact that sometimes it's easier to go ahead and say something without wondering why we're doing it. Why do we do the things we do? That's something I've been looking at recently too and it's really helped me sort out a lot of motives that seemed quite misplaced.


  2. Angela says:

    I cannot comment on [re]tweeting – as it is not a habit I have got into! However I think it would be odd to write a daily blog and nOT mention Japan/New Zealand/the Chilean Miners/ Peruvian floods/whatever in at least one post. With a multi-themed blog, I know some of my readers are crafters, and they JUST blog about their quilting etc, but if reading one of my prayers in the middle of the sewing posts challenges them to pray along with us, that is surely no bad thing.Also I am not sure it is appropriate to presume that people who never pray/are unsure of God have no right to entreat others to pray, or even utter a prayer themselves. Our God is gracious- I cannot believe he would say 'sorry, never heard from you before, so not listening to your prayers. I'm only hearing those of my fully-paid-up churchmembers'When people say to me "My Mum is ill, can you say a prayer for her? I know you are a Christian" I usually respond positively and say Yes I WILL pray – but God would love to hear THEIR prayers conclusions – don't over analyse, do share your thoughts and prayers with others. Don't put restrictions on the stumbling words of other people, do encourage them to join you in prayer. And if 'fresh' words don't come take comfort in the Psalms, or othwer scriptures, or the 'liturgies of the centuries'Lord have mercy.


  3. Freya Morris says:

    I agree alot with Angela. All that matters is that your heart is pure and so are your motivations. Sometimes, a text from a friend asking for prayer is EXACTLY what I need to remind me to pray. To remind me that God cannot step in without us asking him to. So how is retweeting – or posting about praying, ever a bad thing.Ironically, Chris Rock's comment is more judgemental and damning, then those who are doing the tweeting. None of us are perfect and he may be missing the wood in his eye from trying to be self-righteous.


  4. Lucy Mills says:

    Freya – very good point – how is retweeting or posting about praying ever a bad thing? – I'm with you there. It's just the motivations we need to watch in ourselves (we can't possibly know what someone else's motives are, so how can we ever judge them? Quite apart from the fact we're not supposed to be judging in the first place).Thanks for commenting!


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