Have you ever asked this question? Have you noticed how many prayer requests, needs, and issues land in your news feed? It seems as though every second or third status update is a HUGE prayer request. Not the little “I have a hangnail, can you pray” kinda stuff. We’re talking , cancer, car accidents, catastrophes. What do you do with all of it? How are we supposed to handle this many problems? This much need? This much stress?
We aren't. That's right.
You and I are not meant to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. The weight is too heavy, and our shoulders are not big enough. But it's not too much for Jesus.
The need is still there, and the need is great. Which is why we need to trust God’s huge shoulders and faithful hands!
I want to share what I do. Maybe you’ll find it helpful, but ultimately you’ll have to decide how you want to handle what’s coming at you.
Realize that most people on Facebook or other social media sights have at least a few close friends. Some of them are in small groups. Those close friends are the ones who should carry more responsibility for those requests. That's what true friends are for. Nobody is really close friends with 1300 people. It’s not possible. Even Jesus chose twelve.
We weren't created to handle 200 prayer requests a day. But God can. Furthermore, here are a couple of “issues” to consider as you encounter your news feed.
We don't know if that individual has actually gone directly to God for their help. Maybe they have, maybe they haven't. But when we step in, if they haven't gone to God directly, we actually short-circuit their opportunity for intimacy with Jesus. I believe that hurts their relationship with God. I'm not saying that everyone who shares a prayer request on Facebook hasn't gone to Jesus first. It's just a possibility to note.
Facebook isn't a good exchange for a small group. Close friends and small groups that really care about you need to be your source for prayer. If your only prayer people are on the webisphere, you might need to create and cultivate community right where you are. There's just something special about putting your arms around someone, crying with them, and bringing over a meal in a time of need. You can't get that on Facebook.
Let’s be honest, sometimes the prayer request is actually just complaining. I could say more about this, but I’ll just let that sit there for a minute.
Here's what I do when I encounter a prayer request on social media:
When I see the request, I either feel immediately compelled to pray, or I move on. It's that simple.
If I feel the Lord prompting me to pray, I pray right then and there. I don't say, "I'll be praying for you…" That indicates that I'll continue to pray for an unknown amount of time. Frankly, I forget, and that list can pile up quickly. Instead, I simply say, "Hey, I just prayed for you. Hope you start feeling better soon!"
That response is honest, and it helps me take care of my responsibility to pray right then and there. It also frees me to keep going without getting overwhelmed.
This might seem like I'm not a caring person, but I don't think that's the case. Not one human being was made to carry all of these requests that come through. It's just too much. One hundred years ago, we did not have access to this type of information in the lives of this many people. Our capacity for stress as human beings has not increased at the same rate as the information coming at us.
Therefore…I want to give you permission to kindly “pass over” some requests, especially if it's a casual acquaintance, or someone you don’t know all that well. If you feel prompted to pray, by all means - pray right then and there!
What are your thoughts? How do you handle all of the need and requests you encounter on social media? I’d really love to know some of your ideas.