This entry was originally posted over at bigbible.org.uk. Please hop over and read the comments there too!
I’ll pray for you.
It’s so easy to say. But do we actually go away and do it? Or is it a reflex reaction to a confidence or a need? Do we intend to do it and then go away and forget? Or, if we analyse our motives properly, do we not really intend to at all?
Such thoughts can make us uncomfortable, or even indignant. The very idea may make you feel heated. That’s not true of me at all!
That may be the case, but I think many of us do fall into this trap of well-intentioned words. And in a world buzzing with communication, these words are just as easy to type as they are to say – perhaps even easier. Our circles have widened; we come across huge assortments of needs every day. We all need prayer for the many things we do and encounter in our lives. But do we make too many ‘prayer promises’ without genuinely praying, without feeling real compassion? Does it become just about the right words?
It’s enough to make me squirm…
Yes, it most certainly is. I’m right there with you. A while back I posted on my blog asking the question: can a retweet be a prayer? I queried whether simply clicking the retweet button really qualified as genuinely caring about the topic, or whether we were just going through the motions. There was a varied response from readers – some felt that we should take more care; some felt that tweeting (or retweeting) about prayer could never be a bad thing.
I think a retweet can be a prayer – a genuine ‘amen’ to someone else’s words, but I want to be aware of the temptation to do it just to make myself look good. More prayerful. A ‘good Christian’ – you know, that sort of thing.
You’re making me squirm again.
I’m making myself squirm! It can be so easy to do things because I think I should, or worse, to make it look like I care when actually my compassion tanks are running on empty. A real prayer then would be a raw one – full of confession at my own emptiness. I want to care. I really do. But sometimes I am lacking on the compassion front. It’s easy then to click on a button rather than to cry out to the God of the Fatherless – O Lord, help!
Here’s the thing that really bothers me. If I pray on my blog, or if I pray in a Tweet, why am I doing it? Is there a danger that something in me wants to write a prayer that’s retweetable? Am I not really praying at all, but merely self promoting? This seems a cultural equivalent to the scribes of Jesus’ time who liked to walk around in their trendy robes and pray loudly on street corners – see how well I pray! Look how cool I am!
You’re coming across as very negative…
Well, I don’t mean to be. I just want to do things for the right reasons. I want to care. I don’t want to fall into the trap of self-promotion rather than promoting the needs of others. I want to let my prayers and my tweets, my ‘amens’ and my retweets be genuine. Prayer is an amazing gift – a privilege to be able to converse with the creator of the universe, who cares about us – us!
I don’t want to waste it by talking to myself.