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.