Raise your hand if the pandemic has had a negative effect on your life. I would assume you were lying if you didn’t raise your hand. Or you've been under a rock for over a year.
For many, social media has been the major outlet for human contact. Many took to Facebook and Twitter to encourage each other and grieve with one another. The pandemic, for many, was a time of heartache and loss.
It is no surprise then when Facebook seen a significant uptick in people requesting prayer on their platform. So much so they've developed their own prayer feature for Facebook Groups.
Have you seen this feature? Have you used this feature? What do you think about this feature?
According to Reuters this extra feature is part of Facebook’s effort to focus in to their "faith partnerships". After seeing people’s reaction on Facebook Live religious services, they sought to capitalize on these experiences. Facebook rolled out their prayer feature at the end of May of this year.
"In one private Group seen by Reuters, a woman used the tool to request prayers for an aunt sick with coronavirus. People replied by clicking a button to say "I prayed," and their names were counted underneath. Users could choose to be notified with a reminder to pray again tomorrow. Others requested prayers for a daughter's broken heart, a son's driving test and problems with an insurance company."
This is a very interesting concept for Facebook and the Church.
How can the Church best use this feature? Should the Church use this feature?
One way is for the local church to have its own Facebook Group in which people can join and ask for prayer. Perhaps denominations and similar church networks can build their own groups local congregations and their people join.
Though, it seems a little impersonal. People ask for prayers on social media all the time. Yet, there is nothing like being in the same room, face-to-face, with someone who loves and cares for you, praying for you. It is hard to follow James 5:14 through Facebook.
Prayers have no boundaries. I can pray for people across the world. Yet, there is just something about physical presence that cannot compare.
Too, I wonder about what exactly Facebook wants to do with the data it acquires with this feature? The article claims the content of the prayer request will not be used for their targeting advertising. Could you imagine asking for prayer for a sickness and Facebook advertising to you about pharmaceuticals for that sickness?
I'm with Simcha Fisher, who is quoted in the article:
"Anytime Facebook rolls out something new, you know it's because they're hoping to make money off it...to eventually sell you something, somehow."
Is it right to make profit off of someone's prayer?