Unspoken Prayer Requests; Should We Use Them?


ClosetAh…the unspoken prayer request.  I first encountered this wonderful device during my freshman year of college. Pretty much every guy in the Bible study had an unspoken prayer request. As I followed up with the various guys, I discovered that pretty much every unspoken request was a discrete plea for deliverance from pornography. The term proved useful because it allowed the guys to appear both spiritual and datable.

But the expression is not limited to college freshman. We toss out “Unspoken Prayer Request” on Facebook because we are not ready to expose our vulnerable souls to the world, because we fear what others might think, or because some of the information is better shared with a biblical counselor. Or quite simply, we may employ the device because we want to save time. Listing 20 unspoken prayer requests takes far less time than listening to 20 grade school students talk about the aches and pains afflicting their grandparents, friends, and cats.

But should we use the term? I think the answer is no. I understand how the term can seem helpful. However, the Scriptures never mention an “Unspoken Prayer Request.” In fact the term does not even appear in the Christian vocabulary until around the 1960’s. I think no one was using the term until the modern era because the Bible puts forth a different view of prayer.

In Matthew 6:6-8, Jesus says:

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

When we pray, we pray with confidence. We pray knowing that God already knows our needs. We pray knowing that God will act according to his will. If we ask God to give us joy, to deliver us from greed, and to give us patience, we know he will hear us. Our reward through praying comes not from letting everyone else know that we have a secret prayer request. It does not come from communal sympathy. It comes from watching God rescues us from specific problems and communal praise to God. 

The early church prayed together and prayed together often (Acts 4:24; 12:5; 14:23).  And when the people of God prayed together, they prayed with a purpose. They offered up specific requests to God, following the example Jesus laid out in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-15; I Tim. 2:1-2). They took their worries to God (Phil 4:6). And, they directly confessed their sins both to each other and to God (James 5:16).

We should be willing to share our struggles. But if we expect to be delivered from sin, we must hate it enough to call sin, sin. We must come out from behind the “Unspoken” curtain and confess our struggles to those who can help us better follow Jesus and to those whom we have offended. Consequently, the woman having an affair should not initially mention her request  in the public prayer service. Nor, should she publicly enlist prayer for her sin on Facebook.

But she does need to ask other godly ladies she trusts to pray with her. She does need to confess her sin to her husband and ask him to pray with her and for her. I John 5:16a says, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death.” We should share our needs with the body of Christ and we should want to pray for our church family. We should not mask the needed acts of repentance with the spiritual empty practice of offering an “Unspoken Prayer Request.”

Are you ready to pray biblical prayers?

Kids’ Ministry Needs Social Media?

Technolgy blogDo you speak social media? If you don’t know what the question means or answer it in the negative, your church may have a problem. And your kids’ ministry mostly likely has a problem.

At the end of 2015, only 17% of people between the ages of 18-24 and only 21% of people between the ages of 25-34 regularly read a newspaper. In fact, only 20% of all Americas use newspapers to access the news. Moreover, only 38% of people between the ages of 55-64 daily read a newspaper every day.

What do these stats mean? They are telling us that newspapers and magazines are no longer the driving force shaping the worldview of our congregations.

People are going digital. According to a pew research study, 62% of US adults access some news through social media. And 38% of Americans access news primarily through the web and social media. When it comes to millennial moms, (those between the ages of 18-34) 99% of them are on Facebook. Eighty-six percent use social media to influence others. And 87% percent of them turn to social media when looking for parenting advice and tips. In short, social media is increasingly the largest force shaping the American Culture. If our church wants to reach people, we must speak the language of social media. We must be willing to go where our moms are.

woman free smart phoneAnd we have the freedom to go digital. Smart phones are not evil. Facebook is not destroying America. Do people with sinful hearts misuse technology? Yes, and yes! But the technology is not the problem; the people are. We need to address the people instead of attacking the media platforms. We need to use social media to reach people misusing social media. If we draw a line in the sand over technology, we will undoubtedly cut ourselves off from the next generation.

Thankfully, we don’t have to do anything so drastic. Because social media is cheap and easy to access every church can have a platform. As the local church, we can fill Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds with helpful resources. We can promote events through pictures, we can share helpful articles, and we can create our own resources by producing videos, blogs, and podcasts. The Bible is still powerful today, offering hope to all. We just have to be willing to go where the people are.

I still believe that the preached word is still the most effectively tool in the church’s arsenal (closely followed by discipleship). We still need to meet together to worship the one true God (Heb. 10:25). But we must understand that our church members will not wait till Sunday morning or Wednesday night to have their questions answered. They are going to pull out their smart phones and flip open their laptops. And when they do, will they find anything from their church? Are we ready to speak into their lives?

Stop, Wait…Then Post: 3 Social Media Rules To Live By

stop think Post blogWe are the press. We can instantly write editorials on our blogs, comment on tragedies via twitter, and document triumphs on Instagram. With a smartphone and a few clicks, we can do in seconds what used to take newsroom hours to accomplish. We can communicate with the world more effectively than ever before.

In short, social media is amazing.  When used well, Christians can influence millions for the gospel with 124 characters and a picture. But the instantaneous nature of social media also brings great danger. What used to be limited to an ugly letter that never got sent can now become world news thanks to Facebook and Instagram. With few clicks, we can attack celebrities, businesses, and even our closest friends. In a matter of seconds, we can destroy relationships, compromise our faith, and divide our church.

But social media doesn’t have to be deadly. If we submit our social media life to the Scriptures we can find a better way forward. Admittedly, the Bible doesn’t say anything about social media. But, it says a lot about human speech and human interactions. In James 1:19-21, we read:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

3 Rules

1. Post slowly. While there is nothing wrong with using social media to inform our opinions, we must always be slow to speak. We must resist the impulse to comment on everything everywhere. Before we post, comment, and tweet let’s ask ourselves these questions: “Will my post offend my friends and coworkers; will my comments glorify God; will anyone be encouraged by my interaction?” If the answer is no, then we don’t post. And if you are posting simply to correct someone, don’t. No one asked you be their teacher. And a loving rebuke should always be delivered in person (Matt. 18). If you don’t have someone’s phone number, let it go. A couple of years ago, I tried to teach a former acquaintance how to be a better Christian via his Facebook wall. After a few days of arguments, he defriended me. We will not win a brother from a distance. Besides, God can mature people without our witty corrections. Let’s be slow to post.

2. Don’t post in anger. Remember that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. If we are angry (even rightfully so – which doesn’t happen often), let’s take our cause to God. We often turn to social media because we don’t want to submit to God and to divine justice. We want instant gratification. Instead of making God our refuge, we find comfort in letting theman-791049_1920 world know that Bobby is a jerk. We find comfort in saying, “I don’t usually callout people, But…” And as the number of like’s goes up, we feel justified.  But we’ve not won Bobby. We’ve not helped him get right with God or even grown in our faith. Our anger has only made the relationship worse. Our gossip never produces their holiness. The next time we are angry, let’s put down our phones, let’s stay away from our laptops, and let’s turn off our tablets. Let’s ask God to show us the cause of our anger. Let’s spend time toppling our idols instead of murdering others on social media. And if we have been mistreated, let’s trust God to vindicate the righteous.

3. Speak the truth with love. Those who use social media well will direct people to others. Instead of filling our pages with ugly comments, lets praise others. Let’s post things that have encouraged our souls and that will encourage others. Let’s rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Let’s daily spend time in the word and let the Holy spirit inform what we tweet, video, and post instead of our emotions.

I mention the above rules not because you need them. I need them. My heart is wicked and can be persuaded to post all kinds of dumb and hurtful things in cyberspace. I still regularly have police my tweets with the above rules.  Although no one can perfectly master their social feed, (we can never perfectly master our hearts this side of heaven) we can become more like Christ each day. In turn, our use of social media presence can improve!