Pray before Posting on Social Media

I’m currently reading an interesting book by David Robertson called: What Would Jesus Post? The second chapter is entitled pray before posting and it contains some wise advice which I thought I would share this week in relation to our social media use.

The author believes that there are no occasions where prayer is not appropriate. He reminds us that Paul told the church in Ephesus to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18). He also mentions Paul’s encouragement in Philippians 4v6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

With these verses in mind it’s only right for David Robertson to ask us the following questions:

  • When do you pray about your online life?
  • How much do you pray compared to how often you connect online?
  • What view does God have on what we are about to post?

It might seem a strange idea to pray about our online life. However, those two verses mentioned above remind us that we should pray “on all occasions” and “in every situation.” Therefore, it’s not just our offline life that requires prayer but also our online life too. These days we spend so much time online that if we don’t pray about this then that is a big part of our life that we are prayerfully neglecting.

In our church services do we pray for our churches website and social media pages? We believe that it’s important for churches to have a web presence but how often does this become the subject of corporate prayer?

The second question above is obviously very challenging to many of us! I think if we are being honest with ourselves we know that this is an area where there is room for improvement. When we awake in the morning do we connect online before we pray? Likewise, as we go to bed is the last thing we do pray or check our social media feeds? Jesus started each day off in prayer and that’s an example we can all aim to follow.

We have all seen posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that we feel should not have been posted. However, does it occur to us that God will have a view on what we are about to post? It is very important that we always pray before posting on social media. Is the thing we are about to post edifying? Will someone be blessed or encouraged by our post? Alternatively, will our post be making fun at someone or belittling them?

Of course, we can delete our postings on social media but unless we do this immediately someone will probably see it. It’s better to pray before posting to avoid regret and embarrassment.

When we look at our social media feeds we are encouraged to like and share the postings of our friends and followers. Do we just click on the like or share button without either thinking or praying about it first? No doubt if we are honest with ourselves we have probably all liked posts on those platforms that we should not have done. There have been occasions when I have liked a post and then a few minutes later cancelled the like as I realise that I have made a mistake!

In closing lets us remember the importance of praying before we post on social media and asking God for wisdom in what we share online.

God’s Priorities by J. John

God’s Priorities is a book written by J. John on the Lord’s Prayer. The full title of the book, which gives an indication of its theme is: “God’s Priorities – Living Life from the Lord’s Prayer.” Many of us know the Lord’s Prayer off by heart however J. John in this book sets out to challenge us to live this famous prayer.

In each chapter the book addresses a phrase of the Lord’s Prayer in both the old traditional wording (the King James version) and a modern translation of it (the New Living Translation).

However, before he moves into the subject matter, in the first chapter of the book “The Preliminaries of Prayer”, the author outlines who he believes can say the prayer. J. John states that the prayer can only be said by those who are members of God’s family. He then outlines the gospel message and how we can become a member of God’s family.

There then follows seven chapters which are called: Privilege, Praise, Purpose, Provision, Pardon, Protection and Perspective. At the end of each chapter there are questions for the reader to ponder.

God’s Priorities is a very practical book which will challenge the reader as they read each chapter. J. John will encourage you to see if you need to be involved in the answer to your prayers. For example: if you are praying for God’s name to be honoured then how can you honour God’s name in your life, work, home and community!

It will help us to get our priorities in the right order when we pray. Many of us I guess start off our daily prayers concentrating on our own needs and wants. This book as you might imagine will help the reader to change that habit.

In my church we pray the Lord’s Prayer each week in our service and it can be easy to repeat it parrot fashion without thinking about what we are saying. Therefore, for me it was good to read this book and to be challenged and inspired by the Lord’s Prayer.

New Year’s Resolutions

Many people make New Year’s resolutions. At the start of 2019 no doubt some of us will be planning to do one or more of the following:

    • more exercise
    • join a gym
    • start a diet
    • take up a new hobby
    • change jobs

The beginning of a new year is often the time when we look at our lives and consider what changes we would like to see in them. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions are often easy to make but harder to do!

During the last 12 months my church has been going through a challenging time. We are in the process of merging with one of our sister churches in our parish and appointing a new rector to lead both the new merged church and the parish. We were hoping to complete this in 2018 but it still has not happened yet.

I have found that it has been very easy to get distracted whilst awaiting the completion of the merger and new rector appointment. Endless speculation of what is going to happen and when is not ideal. Although I have prayed about the situation I have certainly lost focus myself.

Therefore, for me the most important New Year’s resolution is to get my priorities right and focused correctly. To that end I was pleased to hear that our parish will be starting a Christianity Explored course at the end of January. The leaflet that has been produced for the course contains the following wording:

“….. it is vital that we have an opportunity to focus our efforts and energies first and foremost into the rediscovery of what is referred to in the book of Revelation as our ‘first love’: that good news about Jesus which not only gave birth to us as Christian believers, but which we are called first and foremost to live out and proclaim to the world.”

Your situation might be very different to my one. However, I think for all of us it would beneficial to make our New Year’s resolution to rediscover our first love for Christ.

Reading through the Bible chronologically in 2019

Have you ever read through the whole Bible in a year? There are many different reading plans available to assist with this. If you visit your local Christian bookshop or type “bible readings plans” into your favourite search engine, you will see a variety of options that can be used. One of my favourite ways is reading through the Bible chronologically.

The advantage of reading the Bible chronologically is that it enhances our understanding of the historical context of the individual books of the Bible. We can see in the Old Testament how books like Ezra, Hosea, Amos and Micah fit into the history of God’s dealings with his people. Likewise, in the New Testament we can look at each of Paul’s letters and see at which stage of his missionary travels they were written.

I personally have used the “Cover to Cover Through the Bible As It Happened” reading plan which is produced by CWR. This is an edition of the Bible that is split into 365 different readings with various helpful notes that assist the reader.

The prospect of reading through the bible in a year though does appear a daunting task. Many might think that it is impossible or have tried in the past but given up after a couple of months. It might surprise you however to know that it only takes between 15 to 20 minutes per day to do this. If we consider the amount of time we spend on social media, watching You Tube videos or on Netflix’s then surely, we can spare that small amount of time reading the scriptures in 2019?

Although everyone is different I prefer to do my Bible readings in the morning. If you are a “morning person” why not set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and do the reading before you start the day. Others though prefer to read during the day or in the evenings. The most important thing is to find a time that works best for you and to set that time aside each day. If for any reason you miss a day don’t get discouraged or give up but keep going.

Why not make 2019 the year you read through the Bible chronologically?

 

a Christmas Carol Special Edition

Stephen Skelton’s book “a Christmas Carol Special Edition” is an interesting version of the famous Charles Dickens book. In addition to including the complete text of Christmas Carol, the author provides interesting insights into the biblical illusions and Christian themes that are found in the classic novel.

At the end of each chapter or rather “stave” as Dickens called them, there are discussion questions for the reader to ponder. These cover the following themes: Selfishness, Regret, Repentance, Salvation and Rebirth.

Each discussion section contains four types of questions under the headings: Telling the Story, Telling Your Story, Telling the Story of Christmas and Living the Story. There are then some bible verses provided for further study. The questions are designed for all ages but the author does suggest the first two types are more appropriate for younger readers.

Christmas Carol is a book that many people have enjoyed over the years and will no doubt continue to do in the future. I think this edition would be good to be used for an Advent study group. There are many Christian themes that run through this classic tale which are worthy of further study and discussion. It would also make a good book to study by yourself too.

How to Pray

You may have heard of the “ACTS” method of praying. In this instance ACTS stands for:

    • A = Adoration
    • C = Confession
    • T = Thanksgiving
    • S = Supplication

 

Last Sunday I heard a sermon called “How to Pray” by Bayless Conley on television. In his sermon Bayless spoke about a method he uses called “Pray”. The initials stand for:

  • P = Praise
  • R = Repentance
  • A = Ask
  • Y =Yielding

Interestingly both methods mentioned above put praise to God ahead of asking for things when we pray. I suspect many of us if we are honest start with asking for things rather than praising God! The obvious advantage of starting with praise / adoration is that helps us to fix our eyes on God rather than focusing on ourselves.

If you are struggling with prayer I think using either of the above would be helpful to enhance your pray life.

the Hiding Place

I recently read Corrie ten Boom’s book “the Hiding Place.” I have seen the film a couple of times and although I was given the book several years ago for some reason I had not previously read it.

Most of us know about Corrie and her family due to their brave and heroic acts during the war. The book however also provides details of the life of Corrie and her family prior to the war. Like all of us Corrie had her ups and downs as she grew up. She learnt to trust God during this time and submit to the divine leading.

Despite the risks involved, following the outbreak of the war, the ten Boom family risked their lives in helping others. Although it was very dangerous they offered shelter to persecuted Jews in their watchmaker’s shop.

They were though eventually caught and following arrest interrogated by the Nazi’s. Corrie’s father was offered the chance of being released but told his captors if they released him he would continue to help the Jews. An act of bravery that eventually lead to his death in captivity.

Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Despite the truly awful and horrific conditions they experienced in the camp the sisters still reached out to show the love of God to others. This is especially remarkable when you also consider that Betsie’s health was deteriorating. Those of you who are familiar with the Hiding Place will know that Betsie died whilst in Ravensbruck.

The book finishes with a truly remarkable encounter between Corrie and a former SS man from the Ravensbruck concentration camp at a meeting in Munich following the end of the war. Corrie had just finished speaking at a church meeting when the former SS man approached her and wanted to shake hands with her. Despite the immense internal struggle within her Corrie agreed asking Jesus to help her to forgive him. She then describes how the love of God overwhelmed her as she did this.

I would highly recommend “the Hiding Place”. It is a very inspiring book!