Prayer Shaming

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? Mass shootings, racial injustice, the war in Syria, the Islamist extremist military group ISIS, the refugee crisis, the sixth mass animal extinction, sex inequality, natural disasters, the alarming rates of poverty in the U.S. and continuous growth in developing countries, and unfortunately many more issues that we see and read about almost daily. It’s been a year of, especially for our generation, to becoming more informed and educated. No longer are we asking our parents to update us on what’s going on with the world, we’re seeing it and learning about it ourselves just as much, if not, even more than they might be, especially if they are not active social media users.

However, because we are so connected, the opportunity to share our thoughts and opinions becomes just as available as the information we are digesting. I’ve tried my best to follow Thumper’s fathers advice from Bambi concerning social media posting, “if you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all.” Of course, I share my dispositions as much as the next user, but what I’m meaning to discuss is posting inflammatory or belittling comments about someone’s opinions, or in pertaining to the main point of this blog post, their way of life. If it isn’t well constructive criticism or an informed argument, I don’t understand why people say the insensitive things that they do. But then we can also get into the topic of social media being an outlet for freedom of speech, which it is, and anyone can say anything at all, which they can. But like my previous blog post, becoming self-aware that everyone is a writer that should be interested in posting good and effective content, I’ll argue that posting uneducated, rude, or just plain shaming people isn’t the most effective way to get your point across.

This is a personal post about something that’s just honestly disheartened me this year dealing with the ‘shaming’ some individuals belittle on people’s way of coping with the sadness and corrupt in the world. There are some people, not all, whose only concern during an event or crisis is to prayer shame others for thinking their solution is completely counterproductive, impractical and hopeless, instead of finding solutions themselves. Prayer shaming, as I’ve seen some people title it, has been a trend that I’ve seen more extensively and continuously pop up on my timelines since the more light was shed on the refugee crisis this summer. People’s main argument or message they want to get across is, “praying won’t solve anything,” or they’ll get into specifics like “prayer won’t stop ISIS, prayer won’t feed the starving children in Syria, prayer won’t stop people from killing each other.”

Hey, you’re right. I absolutely promise you are one hundred percent right. But, I don’t blame you for believing that’s what majority people really are praying for; even Google will lead you to think so. Google defines prayer as, “A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” Requesting aid, or expressing gratitude. However, I only agree with half of that definition. To me, prayer is definitely expressing gratitude, but those who have faith understand requesting ‘help’ should be worded differently.

When I was agnostic, but pretty much atheist, I thought having faith was for the weak. Faith was for the people who were not strong enough to face the world alone, I didn’t disrespect it, but I would be lying if I didn’t consider myself to stand above someone who relied on prayer to solve an issue. I thought, as one commonly does, that religious folk when compared to someone who wasn’t, were not independent problem solving individuals. I thought, as many have said throughout these past months, “prayer won’t and can’t solve everything.” It baffled me. I considered myself independent, and whatever obstacle or challenge life was going to throw at me or the world, I was going to take on alone without having to rely on someone who probably didn’t exist, therefor, actually solving something. Well I’ve obviously come a long way since then, and I’ll write a separate blog post about that journey, but for now I’ll introduce one particular woman. This woman who became my mentor and led me into the path of developing a relationship with God, and she defined prayer the way I would define prayer for the rest of my life.

“Prayer is to converse with God, and to give Him your gratitude and your earnest hopes for yourself, others, and the world.”

She didn’t say prayer was a request for help, she said it was an earnest hope. When I pray, I do not pray for ISIS to be stopped, I pray for someone in that militant to find an inkling sense of humanity, and for them to remember love, stopping ISIS is up to the political intervention, not God. When I pray, I do not pray for children in Syria to be fed, I pray for their courage and hope to never cease, to realize they are not forgotten, their food will come from us, not God. When I pray, I do not pray for racial injustice to end, I pray for the those with racism in their hearts to also feel the warmth of love, ending racial injustice is up to us to keep spreading and having the conversation, not God. What I’m trying to say is, I pray in hopes that ISIS will be stopped, for refugees to live comfortably, and for the end to police brutality, but those are my prayers of earnest hope. I pray for love to enter into everyone’s hearts almost daily, in the hope that it will lead to be a part of the physical solutions the world and I have to take to see the change we want to see.

If I post a tweet saying, “prayers to the mass shooting victim’s families,” and your only message about the issue is “that isn’t going to stop the next mass shooting,” I hope from reading this blog post you understand what it is I’m actually praying for. I’m not under the impression that praying for the end of mass shooting will solve anything. I’m praying for the courage and strength to remain with those families, and my earnest hope is for the end of mass shootings, but I am aware that is not in God’s hands, that isn’t what I’m praying for, but that is what I hope can occur because of what I did pray for, alongside the physical action I need to take. I am aware we need to make stricter carrying gun control laws, and more funding for the mentally disabled and disturbed in the United States. But as a follower of Christ, I know it is also one of my duties, if not the most important duty, to spread love. Prayer is something I do every day, every morning before I wake and every night before I go to sleep. I personally believe prayer isn’t a request for help and of course not the only form of solution to take. To me, and as I know to others, it’s sending love during these types of situations, and as my mentor said, an earnest hope.

This entire post however cannot stand behind every single person, from either side. Some people really do just pray, or even worse, just post a hashtag that said they prayed as their only sole solution. I understand from this perspective why it would be a bit of a facepalm to someone else, but maybe now you can understand why someone who solely Prayer Shames and doesn’t post their own solutions makes me facepalm too. There’s so much we, just as humans, owe to each other, and shaming and belittling each other I think many of us can agree on isn’t one of them. A follower of Christ or of any religion or not, we learn since the age of comprehension that respect is one of the most important things we can give to one another. I just hope I don’t see more Prayer Shaming, especially when that becomes the only thing someone becomes concerned about during a social, political issue or anything issue. We should be sharing our ideas, educated arguments, and differentiating solutions. Our generation is so bright, I know we have at in each other to be the ones to take that step into saving the world, no matter how small of an impact we make.

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