I woke up this morning to hear that 9 people were shot and killed during a prayer meeting in a predominantly black church in Charleston, SC overnight.
Social media is filled with posts and pictures mentioning that people are praying for Charleston. This has become a trend. When a disaster happens, many people emote online about the situation and mention that they are praying. But this causes me to ask a couple of questions.
1 - Are we? Are we actually praying for Charleston? Or are we just posting that we are praying? Are we thinking that the thought of prayer is the same as praying? There is a difference between praying and posting. Thoughts aren't prayers. Sadness isn't a prayer. 'Sending good vibes' isn't praying. Posting a picture of the crime scene isn't prayer. Adding a #PrayingForCharleston to your post doesn't make it a prayer. It may be a collective exercise of mourning. But it isn't prayer. Adding a 'praying for _______' post seems to be like the perfunctory, "If you need anything let me know," or "How are you doing?" greetings at the funeral home. Saying, "God help them" is not necessarily a prayer.
2 - Are we praying to God... Or are we just praying to the sky? Prayer is a very specific act, regarding a very specific thing, offered to a very specific God. The God of the Bible is the only one who has all ability to answer all prayers. If we aren't praying to the Christian God in the name of Jesus Christ, we aren't praying.. we are just wishing.
I'm not suggesting it is bad to think about those in need, or talk about a situation, or post about a tragedy. I'm just saying that we need to be praying as well as we talk about the need for prayer. God will hear and answer a praying people. Perhaps we aren't seeing things turn in the right direction because we have a facade of prayer and aren't really praying. God promises to respond to Godly people who pray. He does not promise to respond to our shock and panic.
The apostle James said this about prayer, "The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect." (James 5:16)
You see, prayer is not just a thought, or vibe. or feeling. It is a heart to heart conversation with the Creator and King of the universe. God places concerns on our hearts so that we will talk with Him, and when we see Him work, we will have greater faith. That doesn't happen just because I add a #prayer to my Facebook. In fact, if I am saying that I am praying, but I don't actually pray, I am lying.
Today we need to pray for the families of the victims in South Carolina. It is okay to post that to Twitter... but if you have to choose between praying and posting... pray.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.