Monday, November 18, 2013

Network Religion

Within religion being online, there are some traits called Network Religion that can be identified on every platform and every environment that the internet has provided for this religion to act on. For my study of prayer on Facebook there is one of the traits from Network Religion that really sticks out to me and that is Network Community. The Network Community is the 'idea of network religion... emerges within a distinctive social sphere constructed of networked interactions" and it forms an online community (Campbell, p. 5). This trait has the idea around it that members of a certain platform or website can come together to create an online community being involved and getting to know other people. Though it can go deeper to see how people function offline as well, but my study does not go as deep as that does. My study looking at people all over the world coming together online, I have no way to prove how it can affect them offline. We can see though that the loose social boundaries set up on both of my sites allow anyone to join the group as long as they follow the rules that are set up by the director of the page. Even though the site itself is has loose boundaries, people have made the site fit their needs and they have give a few rules to play by so the community if formed around a few basic rules. An example from my case study that I have been looking into is that when people post on the wall, non are left unlike or uncommented upon. They have been a support group for anyone who has posted on the wall. The people who also post feel open enough to give updates and reports on how their prayer request is turning out. The community of back and forth conversation is encouraging to people who see the post and want to feel welcomed into the group as well.
Storied Identity is another trait that I can see being played out in the group. It is not as strong, but people that post on this Facebook pages are finding who they are and finding themselves in a group that has supporters for them. People that feel alone need someone to talk to and the group being open to anyone posting about anything needing prayer, you can see that a person could find themselves at peace, togetherness and in some senses a family. This are just a few traits that are brought up in the Network Religion, and we could probably find a little of each of the 5 network religion theories in every platform. But Network Community and Storied Identity is two of the strongest ones that I can tell from my observations.   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I will be researching and understanding how Facebook users use Facebook as a social group, living out a form of lived religion, prayer. Focusing more directly at how group prayer is lived out of Facebook, the way people are creating a new context for community by the way they lean on each other for support. Prayer in this context is focused on the wording and the openness that the group has towards one another and how they have leaned on each other for support with their problems. There are over two thousand people in each of the groups that I have been looking at and the reason that they are all on this one page is interesting. The belief in the power of prayer that is formed by the number of people asking for prayer on each of these groups, gives the assumption that if you post on this site your prayers will be seen and answered. Some of the strategies that I have used for looking at this case study is how frequent they ask for prayer, is there any praise, and what are the like and comment number on each post. I find these few questions help me understand who post, why they post and how often they post. People that seem to post more often are people who seem to get more likes or comments on their update that they post. So people post more often than others because they provide updates on their families or ask for continuing prayer. Why they post, well everyone has a prayer that needs to be answered and seeing people getting a response from other Facebookers give them hope that someone is listening and they feel like their prayer will be answered when they post. The way people write is always changing as well. Some people still keep it like a personal prayer to God and others act like they are talking to a group. Which one is better in the situation, could depend on how formal the group is or how the person feels comfortable to post and approach the group. With the examples that I have given before, I hope to show that this new community of prayer groups on Facebook as given people a place to request for prayer even if they do not have a home church. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Purpose of Prayer as a Community

I want to start off by saying that I have decided to stop looking at the Four Men Prayer Group. The group is not the kind of group I am wanted to focus on.They did not have a strong community or posted often enough for me to get a good understand about their purpose for the group. 

I am still reflecting over the two Facebook pages Prayer Warrior Prayer Group and Prayer Request Group. Here are two links to their pages: 

Prayer Warrior Prayer Group:

Prayer Request Group: 

Those are the pages you can look at but today I will be focusing on two post from each group. Here is a list of the post that I will be reflecting on today. I have again taken the names and places out of the post, respecting them since they let me in their group. I have also placed the number of comments and likes that each post received since noon on Thursday the 10th. 

Prayer Warrior:
"Good thursday morning. Please pray for my brother------------- saturday he was in a car accident and hurt his back hes in extremely alot of pain. Thank ya in advance. GOD bless ya today and always."
- 3 comments, 1 like

"Thank you for all of your prayers for my sister. This morning her white count has improved greatly. She still has a very long way to go. But it looks like were going to get past this hurdle."
-4 comments, 10 likes

Prayer Request:
"Please pray for me. All I can say is I have a heavy heart."
-5 comments, 47 likes

"Prayers for my husband---------, that God will give strength to his body, mind.. thru Spiritual food for him.. and give favor for him for complete healing, in Jesus' name.."
-2 comments, 33 likes 

If we were too look back on the following weeks that I have already blogged about, you will see many of the same trends going on now as we did a few weeks ago. The one big difference that I have seen this week that has shown up in the past, is that there is not as many, Amen, God is good, Thank you Jesus, Jesus' name, and so on. There is one above that does do that "Jesus' name...", but in the past almost every single one I picked out had that after the post. I am not saying this is a bad thing but I am saying that maybe they are finding it easier to talk to people on these sites more as a community than just talking to God like I have said in the past. They are still praying to God and lifting up their life and their friends lives to Him but on these pages they have built a trust and now a pattern to talk to one another in a post, than strait to God. This could be seen as a bad thing. As if the believe in themselves as being the ones that have the power to heal, but what I have observed, none of that is going on. It would concern me if people were asking for specific people to pray or not putting praise on the page and lifting it back to God. So from my observation I would say that the group has created a pattern of being more comfortable and being able to talk to each other as a community would. 
That is the one big difference I noticed from the weeks before to now. Other than the ending of the prayer request, the way people post on here has been about the same. They are acting as a community to pray for and support one another. 

Now specifically looking at the 4 examples I have given you, lets dig deeper in how they communicate their religion.
With the two post from the Prayer Warrior Prayer Group we can see that one is asked for a prayer for her brother, but is still positive. The other one is a praise that her sister is slowly and surly improving. The hopeful outlook of these two post, makes them appealing and shows their faith in God. They are not able to do anything about the situation but they believe that with everyone praying for them, that the situation will go the way God planned it. Now here with these two post, they are a few that do not end the way I was seeing them end a few weeks ago. They sound like they are talking strait to another person, face to face. One is thanking the community and one is reaching out the community for prayer. They are also showing us that they need other believes to pray with them and keep them in their hearts. 
The two post from Prayer Request Group is similar to the two above, but the first post is more closed off and less open to the group to share. That could just be the posters personality or if it is something that could be embarrassing to talk about to strangers. Both of these post show an outward shell towards the group. The other post who talks about her husband sounds like she is talking strait to God and the group is just taking it apart to pray for it how they can. They are still showing their confidence and belief in the power of prayer, and even just posting on the wall to a community of two thousand and more, shows that you know people who believe and care can make a difference when they are praying to God.

We can also see some more patters forming from week to week. 
I have included the comments and likes that the four received. The first two did not nearly have as many as the last two. I find that interesting. Although the first two are more personal towards the group, the last two who were more standoffish were liked more. I think these talks a lot about the community that is formed in each of these groups. 
The community that is formed can effect how the "friends" post on the wall, how they word the post and how much they share.   
The Prayer Warrior Prayer Group having a more open communication towards everyone, may have less people that are connected to the group. I have noticed that posters all follow the same type of communication pattern that everyone else post. Short and sweet to the point and a Thank you at the end. They are communicated more as a group to one another than to God himself. 
The Prayer Request Group has some that do the thanks at the end but a lot more are still adding the Amen or Jesus' name at the end. This seems to be more of an open prayer to God and others can read their prayer and then pray for it in their own way. 
For the likes and comments that are on the post, really does not pertain to how the poster post but maybe more on how the group interacts with one another. From observation it seems that the Prayer Request Group is more involved with letting people know that they are praying for them and acting as a community online. 

I talked a little about the differences in the first full paragraph and I still see pretty much the same stuff. I am forming a better idea about the community that is being formed on these two sites. All around the world people are on these sites asking for prayer, I see this as being very important for them to have other believers praying for their lives. To make a Group on Facebook to tell about your personal life, must be important. The differences I see is the way the community shows the interaction to each other while using these pages. 

Over all I have observed people that need a connection with others that have the same belief and want to be prayed for. Prayer is sometimes very personal, but prayer is powerful in numbers and we can see it when people post about prayers that have been answered. The answered prayers are what encourage more people to join and be open about their life and the need for a community of prayer.    

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Trends of Prayer on Facebook

I am going to look back on the past two blogs that I have written and examine examples that I already have used from the groups I am following. I'll be Looking for trends, common messages, and the messages that may compete with one another.

First there are some common trends I want to talk about. The one thing that sticks out the most to me is how many of the post that ask for prayer end with, "Amen", "thank you", "God is good", and "In His name". At the end of a prayer you usually see these type of endings, not in a normal conversations. So their post are more of a prayer type question to everyone, will you please pray for me about this _____ Thank you, Amen. Amen standing for "so be it" makes this more interesting to me. The example from last week of the guy asking for prayer because he has cancer and is not doing well at the end he says in the since "so be it", if you think about it he has left this prayer in Gods hands and saying so be what comes of it. It seems to be important for people to post on their pray request "Amen" because it shows that they are leaving it into Gods hands and that is what prayer is all about. I also find a trend in trust. I say that and it seems kinda broad but what I mean is that, people put a lot of information on these two pages about their life and trust that people will pray for them and also not going talking about them. They make it feel like a sacred area of where if they cant post it on their wall then they can be open and post on this page. This trend I find more in the Prayer Warrior Prayer group and the Prayer Request Group.
The Trend that I find in the Four Men Prayer Group is one of positive and uplifting messages. This groups is completely different than the two groups above. People that are in the group do not post prayer for themselves but the owner of the group post uplifting messages and bible verses everyday, and some more than once a day. I find also interesting that this one has the most "friends" but they have hardly any likes are comments. I can see that the two above are more personal and more friendly to open up your heart and say want is needed to be prayer for then maybe in this one that is ran consistently by the owner.

Second is the common message. Its sad to think that they common message is that they are in pain and need help. But many of these stories are so sad and all they can do is pray. I see this everyday when people are talking about their life and they have no idea what to do but to pray to God and hope something happens. If I look at this more positively, I see that the groups were made just for these kind of reasons. People are consistently in pain and need people to pray for them and feel supported. Some do not have family that understand how to pray or do not believe in prayer, these sites have opened up a prayer family to show that they are cared for and help them be lifted up to God. With the "Amen" at the end of their request is a message in itself. Its not like your asking for the new toy for Christmas and if you do not get it you will be mad. The Amen states that whatever comes even with the prayer is what is in God's will and you are at peace with it. That message by itself is amazing.
The Four Men Prayer group though it is completely different than the Prayer Warrior group and Prayer Request group, still has a great purpose and message that comes with it. Those people that follow that page may not want to post on its wall, maybe they are more private and just need constant reminders of God's blessings on them. The messages that they post are uplifting and encouraging, what other Christians should be to one another. The daily reminder that you are not alone and here is a bible verse to help you out can make someone feel powerful aging. Also if they have a prayer in mind and then see a verse, that could be an answer to their prayer, a little note from God.

 Third is there any competing messages? I am still not sure but I think that the Four Men Prayer Group is Catholic and I am not familiar enough with the religion to know how they deal with pray. The comparison between the Four Men Prayer Group and the other two is, one is more closed and just post to remind you about your belief and the other two are more open so that you can communicate your problems and find people to help you lift your prayer up to God. Pray to me is the most basic thing in a religion and the messages that I have found have all been the same, people need help and asking others to pray for them, lifting it up to God and being at peace with the result.

The real question that has come out of this research is: With Facebook, how do people live out their faith by asking for prayer through a community and trusting in God for their results that He has in plan for them?

Some key traits that I have found is that pray is a community based action. People want others to pray for them and pray with them. They peace to know that not just you are prayer for you helps them get through the day. Another is that saying "amen" really shows your belief that God is almighty and what happens is because it is part of his plan and you can be at peace with that.
These findings help me look more at how people are asking for prayer and what might their intentions maybe in the end. The question that I have come up with is not what I thought it would be when I started. I was looking for a more self centered way to ask for prayer and less meaning but now I have seen that people need that kind of connection and community to feel that their prayers will be heard by God. 

In the end, I feel as though I have invaded some of these peoples lives with some of the things that they post. I would never post anything near what they posted, but I also realize that my family is big into prayer and are always praying for me. This community on these 3 Facebook groups have created a home for those who have none, a community for those who need someone to talk to. I enjoy reading some of the post about the praises and joys that happen in peoples lives through these groups and I think that also encourages others to post prayers because they see that prayers have been answered! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Exploring Prayer on Facebook

Today I have been exploring the three most recent Facebook post on 3 different Facebook pages. (I have taken out last names or cities they live)

From the Prayer Warriors Prayer Group:

"Plz remeber me i have cancer it went frm 3.9 to 4.3 i love my lord jesus .amen"

"May I ask that you all pray for my sister . She has a bad nasty cold . Thank-you"

"Thank you for all your prayers for my husband,he will only have to go for dialysis for two days a week instead of three,I know if it's Gods will he will be healed completely.Thanks to all for your prayers."

From the Prayer Request Group:

"Please pray for Zoe (Lauren) who is in an **** hospital in an induced coma. She and her boyfriend were on a motorcycle that was hit by a truck and trailer rig. The boyfriend was killed in the accident. Zoe was my granddaughter (step) as my daughter was married to her father. So many are hurting, prayers for both families, please! In His name."

"Amazing Grace is the love language that God uses to speak to the world!
His grace is big enough to cover all of our sins. 
His grace is big enough to offer us a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, etc. chance. 
His grace is big enough to provide salvation through a relationship with His Son. 
His grace is big enough to transform the life of a sinner like me! 
And it is only because of His Amazing Grace that we have an opportunity 
to spend eternity in Paradise with Him! Not because we deserve it...but because He loves us more than we can even imagine and His grace is bigger than our sins!"

"Please pray for Roy. Aggressive treatment is being planned to work on several growths that have been found in several places. Also his wife, Colleen, has an upper respiratory infection and wants prayers to be able to help him get through this. They live in ********, but Roy's heart has always been here in ***** where he was raised. Colleen is a descendant of the **** clan. Thank everyone."

From the Four Men Prayer Group:

They have had 3 uplifting pictures that are posted with quotes in them.

"My every beat of my heart be a song of praise to Thy glory, O Lord God!"

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart on your own intelligence do not rely in all your ways, be mindful of him, an dhe will make straight your paths" - Proverbs 3:5-6


In both the Prayer Warrior Prayer Group and the Prayer Request Group are similar in how they show their religion and how they ask for prayer.
Both groups are very personal in their messages and how they are phrasing the message to hit home and for people to pray for them.
Some of them are very short and sweet, so that they get right to the point across in what they need for pray. Others tell you the whole story so you can relate better to them and maybe be able to pray for them in a more personal way. In the Prayer Warrior page- that is a lady that talks about the blessing that has come form the prayers and I see that as being very powerful to showing how she is giving thanks to everyone and God in the blessings that have come to her and her family. In the Prayer Request Group the lady does not say a pray but a quote of some sort that reminds everyone that God is love and he is there for you. This is very impacting for people who are going through a tough time and a good remind to people on the page of why we are praying for everyone. She is showing her religion by show love and spreading the word of God's grace. She is searching out for the positive and even though most of the post on the page are sad and many people ask why things are happening, she reminds them God is good in what he does. 
All 6 users from the first two groups are all unique in their own ways! 
The first guy asking for prayer for cancer you can see that he is short and sweet and to the point. He is probably exhausted and that shows through how he worded his message. All he wants is to feel better. The women asking for prayer for her sister is also short and to the point. The rest of them are a little longer, some longer than others, but they become more personal, reaching out to people who want more of a personal back ground of how to pray for them.  
In the First two groups there were no pictures of anything, but strong personal messages that can paint a picture in your mind. The trust that they have to post on a site about personal things shows which each post. The belief that with prayer good will come is also a huge point that stands out. They have no fear to ask for other people that believe to pray for them. 

Now the Four Men Prayer Group is a different kind of page to follow. Most of the post are created by people that created the page. They are inspirational quotes and pictures or bible verses. I understood the first two post but the last one I was not sure of the last word they used. I looked it up Eucharist: is the holy communion that is taken, being apart of the last supper with Jesus. This is part of the Christian Faith so that gave me more of the clue of where they focused their page on. 
All of their pictures and the quotes that are with the pictures are very uplifting and trying to remind you to live your life in the right direction. There is no comments under the pictures so I am not sure how the people that follow the page think of the pictures but I see them as uplifting. 
The aim of them using these quotes and the pictures is a way to say there is a new day and God is here and keep going on even if it is tough. Life is hard and the power in uplifting words of encouragement can help someone get through the day. They want to be there for men who need to stay on the right path.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reflection on 3 Post Written 3 on Facebook Pages

I am observing the interaction of prayer and the use of Facebook to request for prayer and the need to post on a public site. I have not changed anything from my last post that I posted. I am though, going to narrow down my observation, and not focus on "how" people request for prayer but more of why they do it on Facebook and the responses from others on that page.

The first group I have observed this week was "Prayer Warriors Prayer Group". One thing that stuck out to me right off the bat was that at the end of a post that someone has requested prayer for there is usually a "amen", "thank you...", "God is good", "God bless you...", or something along those lines. It is interesting to me because how they start off the post, it does not sound like a normal start to a prayer, but how they end it they end it in a traditional prayer ending. In someways I can see that they may not be speaking right to the group on the page but having a conversation with God and ending by saying "amen". Some people have an easier talking when they can write it out. This observation still does not answer the why do they post a such personal things, like I have cancer, my family is going through..., and other things that most people only talk to their closes friend about. A theory I have is that maybe they don't have someone close enough in person to talk to, but an open group that accept any post about prayer is easier to be able to open up about their personal life. Another interesting thing I have observed is that some post have more likes than a comment below it. Now maybe there is a social norm that I don't know about but most of their prayer request are quite sad and to see someone like is bad communicate. A like does not say they are going to pray for it and it could say they like the drama in your life. I feel if it is something as personal as needing a prayer I would take "likes" as being a lazy way of communication to something that can be so personal.

The "Prayer Request Group" has about the same observation that I talked about above for the other group. They as well do the "amen", "thank you", and "God bless". More likes than comments for peoples personal, heartbreaking prayer request. This Facebook group is also a lot larger than the one above. The "Prayer Warriors Prayer Group" has about 10 people that post quite a bit on the wall every week, but the "Prayer Request Group" has over two thousand members and has many post every week by different people.  But one thing that is different is that there is so many members on this Page but only a few post a day. All together in a week it adds up, but just this past day there has been 4. I just find that odd with over two thousand people on the page.

The last group "The Four Men Prayer Group" is completely different than the two above. The two above has many people posting on the wall asking for prayer and reaching out for others, but in the "Four Men Prayer Group", most of the post are from the group themselves and no one that I have seen so far has posted a request for prayer and few comments on the post that they do post. Now I am not sure of what personal messages that they may receive from their group but seems like a group that is for more of a read me and be done with me than an interacting group. This type of group can appeal to people, something that can get them through the day. Also this groups seems to be Catholic, many Pope pictures and quotes. I do not know much about the Catholic faith but maybe a take in message is something that is more normal for them. This group is also bigger than the first group I talked about, a little over a thousand people have liked this page.

All of these pages are trying to open up a prayer group for people to be in, but there is many limitations to the personal aspect of prayer. Many of these people do not live in the same state or city... If someone one was in dyer need all they could do is comment and say... "prayer coming your way", no help could really be given like in a traditional church community. Also the "likes" from a comment can be interpreted in different ways, that is something I will have to look more into but people could take it the wrong way. The function of traditional prayer is taken down to a few sentences on a page. The sacred message through a prayer is taken out in a way.

The primary message about religion that I have observed so far form these groups, is that if you post on a page and someone says they are going to prayer for you then the need will be met. The fulfillment that the poster needs in having someone say they will pray for them is filled and may be the only way they believe things will get done. They try to form come kinda of community by the person who created the group posting on their every now and then with an update for the group or saying rules that need to be respected on the group, so setting some kind of community in a scene with boundaries.

This will be an interesting to see unfold during the weeks to come.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prayer Proposal

For a religious case study, I have chosen Facebook as my platform to focus on. As I look at Facebook I am wanting to observe how people request for prayer on Facebook. I have followed/liked 3 different pages that I will observe for the next 6 weeks. The three groups are called "The Four Men Prayer Group", "Prayer Request Group", and "Prayer Warriors Prayer Group". The reason I have chosen there 3 as my pages to study is because I saw them as all being different in a way but also being able to find similarities between the three as well. I really want to look into how people ask for prayer of Facebook. As a Facebooker I know I will post thing on Facebook more than actually saying them because I feel more comfortable being able to write it out and think every thing through before I "post" it.
I am hoping to be able to observe why people want to post their difficulties on Facebook and ask for prayer more than praising God. Prayer is more than just asking for help or listing what needs fixing, so I find this interesting in how people post prayers for themselves.
I feel that this is different than the usual prayer form that is in the church. By not going to church or asking your friends for prayer, you can open your heart out to a computer and ask people you know, or may not know to pray for your difficulties. 
Media has played a big part in making people more comfortable to be themselves and open up to complete strangers on the internet. Although prayer is not a dangerous thing to ask for or tell people about, it is still very personal. The personal part about a prayer is where I feel this study to become very interesting. I look forward in observing these groups and see what makes them so comfortable to open up their personal lives on a Facebook page.