Don’t Post…Pray

As the post coronavirus world spins about with seemingly little regard for the axis of sanity, men and women find their hearts weighted down by tomorrow’s fears. Like the soothsayers of old, they dissect the animal of social media, seeking to extract messages about the future. Equipped with unverified tidbits of truth, they take to social media, believing a barrage of tweets and articles linked to their Facebook page will convince the world that social distancing will lead to the downfall of the United States. Others fear a lack of facemask will result in thousands of needless deaths. Regardless of the fear, most American seek the same anti-dote: social media validation. This should not be the practice of the Christian. We should find our hope in the sweet closet of prayer, tucked away from buzzing highway of social media.

David wrote Psalm 3 as his world descended into chaos. His son, Absalom, had declared himself king. As David fled Jerusalem, his top advisor joined the rebellion. In the space of a few hours, the comforts of home were replaced with the fears of death. The whole world had gone against him. David writes, “Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God (Ps 3:2).” Though David’s world lacked sanity, David did not lack hope. He knew God was his shield. Though men had turned against him, David knew God had placed him on Israel’s throne. God’s could not be overthrown by a rouge prince. David placed his trust in God.

Christian have even more cause to place their trust in God because he has died for their sin. The Christian’s glory is the glory of God given to her at salvation. God died to save her, lifting her from death to life. Since God saved her, she has every reason to trust God with her coronavirus fears.

Facebook post cannot keep you or I from catching the nasty virus. Twitter battles cannot prevent the downfall of our nation. But God can. Not only can God protect us, we can trust him to protect us for he hears our cries for help. David writes, “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.” Though David slept in a tent while Absalom slept atop David’s castle, God heard David. Though fears may dance atop our hearts, God still hears and answers our prayers from the pit of chaos.

The Christian’s Instagram post will not change the thinking of the President, of the Governor, or of the mayor. They will not hear the Christian’s theory about what the doctors are really up to. If the truth-be-told, most of our friends will not take our concerns seriously. But God hears the cries of his people. The ruler of the universe who directs the hearts of kings and who laughs at the armies of earth hears our prayers. Our Facebook posts cannot prevent anarchy. But, God can. Our Twitter wars cannot heal the sick. But, God can. Our Instagram posts cannot keep the church from mishandling the coronavirus crisis. But, God can. E.M. Bounds notes,

National affairs need to be prayed over…Lawmakers, law judges, and law executives need leaders in Israel to pray for them. How much fewer mistakes if there was more praying done in civil matters?

Do you fear death, the destruction of the economy, or a police state? Follow David and pray to the God who hears you. To whom will you take your fears?

Unspoken Prayer Requests; Should We Use Them?

Ah…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. Moms, grandpas, and uncle Joe regularly toss out “Unspoken Prayer Request” on Facebook. Many do so because they fear how their needs might affect how others view them or because the need should not be put in the public square. The more pragmatic of us may employ the device because we want to save time. Listing 20 unspoken prayer requests takes far less time than listing out the specific requests of your friends which includes everything from grandma’s sore shoulder to comfort for Bobby who just lost his cat.

Should We Use Them?

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 should 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. And that rescue does not depend on the number of people praying for us but upon the God who knows what we need. In other words, we don’t need to uses unspoken prayer request because God hears even our faintest whispers and will respond to our cries for help even if no one else knows we have a need.

But What About Communal Prayer?

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). God calls us to share our burdens with others.

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?