Online Prayer

Ruth Gledhill’s guest blogger Elizabeth Kirkwood has an interesting article on online prayer. It seems that more and more people are turning to this. I’m sure this is not a new phenomenon – indeed my personal prayer letters have been online since 2002. But apparently there are now specialist websites for online prayer:

You log on and submit a prayer in the hope that others will respond by praying on your behalf …

For example:

One Beliefnet user, Scott C, writes on the financial prayer forum: “I have been out of work since December 2008. Please pray that I find a full time job again. Unemployment has been very difficult finianically and has placed a strain on my marriage”.

Another user, Merlock, replies: “May God guide you to find a job, provide for your needs”. …

Worries about the ethics of these sites are further fuelled by the existence of some which charge for intecessionary prayer, offering a ‘call-centre’ style service.

Well, I certainly am worried about any site which might try to make a profit from prayer for others’ misfortune. I would consider that entirely unethical. It might be a different matter if this is a charity only covering expenses. Of course it is very difficult to be sure with US sites, like the one linked to, which are not bound by the strict rules of the British Charity Commission.

But what about the free sites? Are they unethical too? I don’t see them as being entirely wrong. But I do accept the concern that they can trivialise prayer into just petition and intercession, with no place for wonder and praise. So, like Elizabeth, I remain unconvinced.

But what is OK for a specialist site is surely OK for a blog like this one. So:

I am currently looking for a job. Not having one is putting a strain on my finances, especially as I also have a wedding to get ready for. So please, anyone who reads this, pray in the name of Jesus Christ that I can find a good and suitable job, through which I can bring glory to him.

 

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August 16, 2009

Seeking work through online prayer

Lizzie-12 As youth unemployment grows in line with the use of new communications technologies by the young, many of those out of work are not just seeking jobs online, but praying online for help in finding them. Elizabeth Kirkwood, Oxford graduate, who has just completed the journalism course at City University, writes here a guest  blog for Articles of Faith on the growing phenomenon of online prayer.

Elizabeth Kirkwood writes:

‘My experience of on-line prayer goes something like this: I sit in front of my computer, my head in my hands, its late at night, an eerie blue glow is cast from the screen. In the silence I pray for some divine intervention from a greater being. But the greater being in question is otherwise known as Microsoft. I have a deadline and my computer has decided that it’s “no longer responding”. You get the picture.

But there is another type of on-line prayer, one which increasing numbers of people appear to be taking up, in particular looking for support to cope with the pressures of our current economic crisis. According to the assistant editor of Beliefnet.com, Nicole Symmonds, the site – one of the most popular interfaith websites today – “has seen a huge increase in on-line traffic specifically to the financial prayer circles and forums, an upturn which started during the last quarter of 2008, when people were really beginning to feel the effects of the credit crunch.”

Such sites come in a variety of formats, but most follow the same formula. You log on and submit a prayer in the hope that others will respond by praying on your behalf, otherwise known as intercessionary prayer.

But what does this offer that traditional prayer doesn’t? Nicole Symmonds believes it comes down to a combination of factors, not least the rise and rise of social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, making people feel more comfortable sharing prayers on-line. But it’s also easy and convenient, she suggests, so that people can be transparent about their worries in a way they find hard face to face. “People want to feel like they’re able to bare their souls even to people they don’t know.”

One Beliefnet user, Scott C, writes on the financial prayer forum: “I have been out of work since December 2008. Please pray that I find a full time job again. Unemployment has been very difficult finianically and has placed a strain on my marriage”.

Another user, Merlock, replies: “May God guide you to find a job, provide for your needs”.

0 thoughts on “Online Prayer

  1. Thanks, TC, Rachel and Iris, and anyone else who is praying but has not commented. Actually I am now in a bit of a dilemma about whether to apply for a job that is coming up quickly or wait for a better one in September. Please pray for wisdom.

  2. When a person speaks a prayer request to a group of people in person, in a physical location, they demand the attention of the group. (That’s the dynamic — there is a different discussion about the kind of prayer requested, the time it takes some people to get to the request itself, the attention span of the people listening, etc., etc.)
    The group, especially if that is the “agenda item” for the moment, responds with immediate prayer for that request, perhaps with laying on of hands.

    My difficulty with the concept of online prayer (without it simply being another form of a prayer request phone line, where the requester believes that someone will hear it and actually pray it) is the absence of the three things mentioned above: physical proximity, immediate prayer response in the hearing of the person making the request, and physical contact as biblically encouraged and taught.

    What is helpful to mitigate these absences in online prayer is 1) a promise or commitment to pray at a time certain, noted in a posted comment, which thus provides both encouragement to the prayee, and self-accountability for the pray-or.
    e.g., “Dear Peter, I will be praying for you at 3 pm Pacific time today for job opportunities…..”
    and/or 2) The prayer that you would pray itself typed out in a posted comment, instead of a description of the prayer, thus implementing the prayer right at that moment as the pray-or is typing.
    e.g. instead of a posted comment that says, “Peter, I’ll be praying that you find a good job.”, the pray-or prays and types, “Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, I ask that you give to your servant Peter Kirk the wisdom he needs regarding finding a job now or waiting until September. Just as you gave Solomon that discernment, in your mercy give that same wisdom to Peter now. And, Lord, make it Gentle wisdom; I don’t want you to knock him out with the pure stuff. Amen.”

    And thus the prayer commitment is fulfilled and the prayer prayed. Personally, I like the time certain aspect because, when combined with several people praying at the same time certain, it comes the closest to “whenever two or three are gathered together…”

  3. Rob, thanks for your prayer and for your insights. I would agree that prayer of the kind you recommend is the ideal. But I don’t see other kinds as invalid. Indeed the kind of impersonal prayer request that you criticise is effectively equivalent to the long established missionary prayer letter. Would you also have difficulty with that?

  4. Peter,
    You are welcome, and my prayer for you and your noted request was indeed a prayer for you.

    I understand what you are saying about the missionary prayer letter. I think what I am peeving about is the lack of accountability TO a prayer simply posted online, especially on a weblog comment thread, and the false hope given when such a prayer is posted to a blog thread that is not being monitored.

    Having said that, I certainly believe that faith is released when even the prayer request is uttered, and yet no one will ever read it. God sees it, and prayers can be answered! The ironic situation in that scenario is the person having their prayer request answered, and posting a “thank you for praying” note to that same un-monitored blog thread!

    So I would not want to be identified as one who claims certain types or kinds or forms of prayer are invalid. Having said that, I have, at times, instructed disciples to pray differently than they just did; and I have identified certain prayer attempts as not Christian.

    Anyway, back to the missionary letter, it is sent out to a group of people who have already made a commitment to that missionary, and eagerly await news, and are motivated to immediately and daily pray for whatever the missionary has listed as their prayer priorities. I would say that despite the physical separation (which makes it QUITE distinct from, of course), the missionary letter actually fits the qualifications I listed for the group at prayer.

  5. Rob, that’s interesting. Yes, of course there is a difference in that advance commitment to pray for a missionary. I agree that the mere utterance or typing of a prayer request is a kind of prayer in itself which can be answered by God without any human response. Indeed I have at times been asked, in experimental meetings, to write prayers on paper and burn them. Is that valid? Is it really any different from writing a prayer request which no one reads? At least I know that some people read my blog, presumably including the few prayers I include in it.

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  7. PLEASE PRAY FOR ME I AM I NEED OF HELP FROM THE LORD MY BACK ARE AT THE WALL I AM IN NEED OF HELP FROM THE LORD,I FEEL LIKE THE LORD IS NOT HEAR MY PRAYER PLEASE PRAY AND ASK HIM FOR A WORD FOR ME MY HEART IS HURT AND DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM GOING TO DO PLEASE CALL ALL AND PRAY FOR ME I AM REALLY IN NEED PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PRAY FOR ME I CAN’T NOT BEGAN TO TELL YOU HOW I FEEL TODAY. BECAUSE HE SAID HE WOULD SUPPLY MY EVERY I REALLY NEED YOUR PRAYER FOR MY FAMILY I NEED A BLESS TODAY SO PLEASE PRAY FOR ME TODAY .I FEEL LIKE GIVE UP.PLEASE PRAY FOR ME .I LOVE the lord with all my heart AND THINK YOU FOR BEEN THERE FOR ME.

  8. Barbara, I just prayed for you, and I would encourage anyone else who reads this to do the same. I trust that you will know the Lord’s presence and comfort with you and that very quickly you will see his provision for your needs.

  9. Please, remember Shule and me in prayer for a relationship miracle for us both, that we be reconciled for the glory of God, THAT HE WILL BLESS OUR REUNITING!
    May God draw us both closer to Himself, and that we can have a loving relationship with God and each other. May His perfect will be done for us.
    SOMETIME IT TAKES THE SEPARATING TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE MEANT FOR ONE ANOTHER, SO please PRAY THAT GOD WILL QUICKEN SHULE’S SPIRIT AND OPEN HIS HEART, FATHER GOD, SO THAT THIS WILL BE WHAT YOU HAVE COMMANDED, PRAY THAT YOU WILL UNITE US IN LOVE, PRAY THAT THERE IS NO OTHER INVOLVEMENT. THAT US, TWO INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE LOST THEIR WAY FROM ONE ANOTHER, AND THAT YOU HAVE ORDAINED US TO BE ONE
    Please pray for a restoration of the relationship and that it become the relationship that God wants it to be. May He open up the lines of communication so that He is honored by the peace and love between Shule and me. May I be open to hear how God wants me to act and speak to Shule. May the relationship be a blessing to us both. May He be between Shule and me, filtering every word, every action, every thought.
    Also, please, hold Shule before You and ask that You draw near to him so that he becomes aware of Your Presence too. Let this time apart be a time of healing and renewal. Cause him to desire a reconciliation and make contact with me.
    Lord, please restore the relationship between Shule and me, making stronger than it ever was before. Let our relationship grow, with You as it’s solid foundation. Strengthen the communication between us and hold us in Your Love and care, leading us towards marriage and a lifelong commitment. Bless us with many healthy children, who will grow up knowing You.
    Please, ask the Lord to move in miraculous power in this situation.
    Be blessed and stay connected.
    In Jesus’ Name
    Kaca

  10. Please, pray:
    That Our Lord God strength the relationship between Dejan M. and me!
    For GOING DEEPER IN KNOWING EACH OTHER!
    That WE SPEND A LOT OF TIME TOGETHER!
    That our love will grow stronger day by day and that we always place God in the center of our lives!
    Thank you for all your prayers
    Praying for you
    Katarina

  11. Katarina, thank you for your request, and I can add my Amen! to your prayer.

    To make a full disclosure here in the light of what I wrote above about making money from this being possibly unethical: I could now make money from this page, if people click the ads on it. I can’t block the ads on individual posts. I am not soliciting prayer requests in order to make money.

  12. Please pray that I will be reunited again with my family back home in the Philippines this end of June 2011 in good health and debt free.

    Thank you.

  13. Lord, I pray that you restore Mark’s health and provide for him the resources he needs to be debt free and reunited with his family. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  14. KENNETH COPELAND MINISTRIES
    The Word of God says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds”. Send in a prayer request to this email kennethcopelandprayerministries@yahoo.com Someone, somewhere is praying for you there’s no problem God can not handle, no matter you are going through now, don’t give up on life, only God can make the impossible to be possible. Seek the face of the Lord and He will not forsake nor leave you. God bless you as you do so, AMEN…

  15. “Proclaim liberty to your brothers, and sisters, and neighbors.” Jeremiah 34:17

    “Set up a standard and proclaim it among the nations.” Jeremiah 50-2

    Leviticus 25:10 “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.

    The governments of the world should focus on improving the living conditions around the world for it’s people, instead fighting over stuff that really doesn’t matter.

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