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!