Facebook is a lot of things to a lot of people. It has the power to unite and to divide, to heal and to injure. It sounds ridiculous, no doubt, to non-users, but its effect on my life has been profound. But one of its most surprising and beneficial effects has been its impact on my prayer life.
I would like to be one of those people who gets up half an hour early to pray, who has a home shrine, who walks in labyrinths and attends adoration weekly. I wish I could work up the energy to attend Mass more than once a week and find the time to go on a retreat. Maybe some day I will be one of those people.
Still, one thing I do try to do, every single day, is pray for other people. But you know how it kind of becomes a reflex to tell someone you will pray for them, and you say a prayer then, but later you more or less forget about it? I always did that, and I felt bad about it. As I said my nightly prayers I would find myself saying something like, “For all those people I said I would pray for.” I know God can sort it all out, but I still felt guilty and thoughtless.
But the thing about Facebook is that you see daily the friend or acquaintance for whom you have promised to pray. Not only has my circle of friends widened thanks to Facebook, so that I have more friends to pray for, and more of THEIR friends to pray for when they ask me to, but I see regular updates which remind me to keep that person’s intention in my prayers. And I feel myself drawing closer in spirit to the people I am praying for.
After what we went through last year, I KNOW the power of prayer to lift people up. But the benefits are not all on the receiver’s end. I find myself feeling almost excited about saying my nightly prayers now, as I make an effort to go through and think about each person I have promised to pray for, and ask God for the special blessings each one needs. If I fall asleep before I finish–it does happen–I don’t just feel guilty, I feel disappointed. I never really thought of prayer as something to enjoy before, and now I do.