5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
The Lord Jesus called people who prayed aloud in public places hypocrites, revealing that the ‘real’ purpose of their prayers was wanting to gain the attention of men. He went further to imply that such prayers, will get no response from heaven.
Now, how different are we from those hypocrites, when we post our prayers online for everyone to read, like in Facebook updates, or twitter tweets, and blog posts?
I’ve seen quite a number that go, “Lord, help me to be patient”, or, “God, give me a good day today” … I’m sure you’ve seen such posts.
I’ve been trying very, very hard to reconcile such ‘prayer updates’ with the Lord’s clear instruction on prayer, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret…”, but I can’t, the Lord’s instruction goes against the need to pray online.
Not that I desire to judge others, but I cannot think of any reason that has spiritual benefit that should give us reason to post such posts.
In fact, the only reason I can think of, is a desire to display our piety in the sight of others, which is exactly the hypocritical attitude the Lord was rebuking.
Even when expressing thankfulness for something, it ‘may’ be okay to post a statement of thankfulness, like “I’m thankful for…”. But even then, we should ensure that we’ve actually gone to God in private prayer to express our thankfulness first.
We all have things to pray and be thankful for, but unfortunately, sometimes God is the last to know.
So the next time we think of ‘praying’ online, let’s rethink our motives for doing so.
In the overtly social world we live in, we must reclaim some privacy for things both personal and sacred.