#PrayForXYZ – a scary trend

I’m sure you’re familiar by now with the “PrayFor…” hashtags that start trending whenever a tragedy occurs somewhere in the world and receives enough media attention. #PrayForParis. #PrayForOrlando. #PrayForChristina… I could go on. It almost seems like protocol to come out with one of these whenever such a situation goes down, as this image so humorously/tastelessly (both?) recognises.

Now, I realise that the creators of these hashtags, and the people who use them, probably have good intentions for the most part. Quite likely, there’s not much they can actually do in terms of practical help, so this is their way of showing solidarity. And that’s great, of course. But what bothers me about this isn’t so much the idea that this is eventually going to replace the act of practically helping those involved (which I don’t personally think will ever happen), but that the whole concept of ‘prayer’ is going to be reduced to a platitude we chuck out in order to make it look like we care.

Prayer is supposed to be communication with the Creator of the universe. It’s supposed to be the source of all our strength, where we recognise just how great God’s power is compared to ours. In short, it’s quite a big deal. And I might be alone here, but something feels uncomfortable about seeing it used as a largely empty expression of sympathy like this.

If any of the people who say they’re going to pray for a situation actually do, then more power to them. But if we’re just saying this stuff because it’s the ‘compassionate’ thing to do, or because we think we might get called out for ‘not caring’ if we don’t, then I’d say it’s time to rethink what we’re doing. Yes, by all means, these people deserve our thoughts and prayers, but those thoughts and prayers have to be genuine. Otherwise, it almost feels like we’re insulting them.


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