Social Media is present in our lives whether we want it or not.
Teens, parents, grandparents, even school systems are cruising the pathways of social media in an effort to stay connected. Some parents use social media in a continuing effort to control their children, others use social media as a babysitter so they don’t have to pay attention to their own children. Grandparents text, face-time, and play games with their grandchildren. Schools form networks to help students with bullying issues, sports information, or scheduling conflicts. Medical facilities send out multiple texts to remind you of impending appointments. Social media is becoming more predominant in our lives.
As with all tools, Social Media has a downside. A huge downside. Attention. Addiction. Anonymity (perceived). Teens and pre-teens are not the only ones consumed with flashing screens, selfies, and non-stop information. We took plenty of selfies on our last vacation. Wonder how today’s teens would react if they had to turn in their film rolls and wait two weeks for it to come back processed and HOPE that the pics turned out okay? They can’t fathom the slowness of the process much like parents/grandparents can’t fathom the blazing speed of information traveling in cyberspace.
In addition to time consuming, Social Media sites take on an aura of anonymity. People – and not just teens – forget that everything, EVERYTHING, can be copied and distributed in the blink of an eye. That is why responsible adults get fired, teens loose friends, and businesses refuse to re-hire. Pornography is rampant on Social Media. So is Narcissism. Satan lurks around the next click. Waiting for the innocent to follow a link. Images and impressions bury themselves in the psyche within a nanosecond. Before the “X” can be found. Yes, Satan loves Social Media.
But then again, I see God on Social Media every day. Graphic quotes abound on social media. Scriptures. Lyrics from old hymns. Encouragements. They can all be found on social media sites. Surely, truly, God is doing His thing in His own way. His plan is unfolding with the current culture just as it did in days of old.
Whether on Social Media or in life, when I look for God I find Him.
In fact, I have found several ways to use Social Media to bump up my prayer life.
- I scroll for information about friends who need prayers in their lives. Sometimes, it is about a sick kid or a sick husband. Sometimes, it is for themselves, on a day all hope seems lost. I am entirely uplifted when I read the comments section from other readers offering their prayers for all the world to see. When one friend shares concern about someone and suddenly people from all over the country are responding and sending in their own prayers, it makes prayer real. I have prayed for two years for a little boy named Tristan. I don’t know him or his family. A friend shared his story on Facebook. I only know that he has had a rough life and his precious momma is worried about him constantly. Knowing about him has expanded my prayer life to those I only know spiritually. What a blessing.
- I am able to see that God is a God of the entire world through Social Media. I see and read about people in other countries celebrating their loved ones, their birthdays, or their triumphs and am reminded that God fills the spaces their hearts as well as in mine. Watching the news flashes about West Africa and the Ebola crises makes me cry and pray for all the lost ones. News of war makes me pray harder for all the women and children suffering in camps with practically nothing to eat or drink. The news that flashes with pictures of one human reaching out to another gives me hope. Social media allows me to see how God is working in the lives of others far from where I live.
- Social media brings attention to specific horrors and frailties of the human condition. A girl set on fire purposely. A young man brutally killed. School children being threatened. A teen suing her own parents. Bullying. Suicide. Depression. Ugliness in all its forms. Without social media to tell the story, how many would be praying for the parents of these hurt children? How many would be praying for our country? Our human condition? It is difficult to hear and read about, but if it is kept secret, then no one is praying about it. It is still happening because our adversary is looking for ways to destroy us. When we band together to pray for situations, we can be sure that God is listening and that He will take action.
- Social media allows us to help bigger than life ambassadors through prayer. I pray every week for young, beautiful Sadie Robertson and her family. Yes, she is wealthy beyond belief, and sweet, and young, and innocent, and perfectly ripe for Satan to destroy. Ambassadors for Christ who speak out publically need our special prayers. They are in the limelight and Satan will use every trick in the book to trip them up. They put their lives on the line every day to spread the gospel.
- Finally, I use social media as a starting point of knowing what issues are on the block for my children – young and old. I read and share the articles with my children and often that opens dialogue about what is wrong or right about the issue at hand. It keeps me informed about what is going on in their world and that informs my prayer life.
I keep a prayer journal and find that I am increasingly adding information from the social media sites to the list. Sure, I have my daily list and my weekly list and the list from my prayer group, but I find that as I scroll I say quick prayers for the many concerns I find on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. Sometimes, I see that a teen is posting inappropriate things. I say a quick prayer for discernment. Sometimes, I see that someone has passed away and I can say a quick prayer for the family. Other times, I get on my knees and weep at the cruelty that one human can unleash on another.
Lest you think I scroll all day long, I do not. But, when I do scroll, I now look for praying opportunities. For people who might need one more prayer on their behalf. For one more teen that needs a nudge in the right direction. For one more reason to praise our God for His everlasting goodness and mercy. Strictly speaking, I am not a social media fan, but this is one more way that God is working all things together for good.