Can Technology Yield a Better Prayer Life?

Prayer on Twitterscoop

In short, I would say, no.  There are so many things technology can do, especially with networks like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and all the others we know and love, but I am not sure if prayer is one of them when you look at the traditional definition of prayer, communicating with God.  There are sites like WeTheChurch that use technology with a basis of prayer, but aren’t they ultimately communicating with other readers about what they have already communicated with God?

How about Twitter.  Prayer, praying, and pray are all pretty active on Twitter and show in the graph from Twitterscoop.

Another one I like to look at is Google trends.  Anything that is technology certainly has Google’s mark on it somewhere.  But this is a stretch, most of this is talking about prayer, not actually in the act of praying.  The graph looks much different if we compare it with two terms most popular in the world, prayer, money, and sex.

Google Trends on Prayer

Prayer is a conversation or communicating between us and God, right?  If so, that means (for purposes of this post) that all created technology is basically a means of communication between people.  It may be between our wallet and the bank or the TV station to satellite to our living rooms, but more times than not, it seems to be a means of communication between ourselves.  We could stretch it and look at things like the movie Contact, or the SETI Institute (which does employ about 150 scientists) but so far we have been unable to use technology to communicate directly with God.

I have been going through a book given to me by the author called Six Prayers God Always Answers (I love the tag line, “Results May Vary”) and in one passage she talks about what constitutes prayer.

It seems our prayers well up around the things we love–a child, a spouce’s beauty, our own lives… then consider these expressions:

“God, help me.  I’ll never do it again.”
“God, are you there?”
“Save me, God”
“Please God”

People thoughtlessly invoke the name of God into the mundane (“Oh my God!”) and the profane (“Jesus Christ”).  Believers are offended–convinced it is disrespectful, even blasphemous.  Nonbelievers toss it up to a slip of the tongue… but what if these were really prayers? … Could Jesus see these outburtsts as a cry of a wounded brother or sister?  How do we know what is in the heart of those who utter such words?  Do we even know our own hearts?  God is the judge of these prayers.

This passage has nothing to do with technology in prayer, but it opened up my thinking a bit to what we here on earth consider to be prayer, so why can’t we use technology in prayer.  We use all kinds of technology in church and prayer is a big part of church so they must come together at some point.

What do you do that you consider to be prayer.  In one of the shorter verses of the Bible we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB) “pray without ceasing” or even shorter in the NIV 17 “pray continually”, so there has to be more than just the Sunday version of the Lord’s Prayer to be able to achieve this command.  What is so great about prayer is that we can pray anywhere, anytime, in a ton a different ways.

We can certainly use technology to bring us to prayer with God, like writing a blog post or in a journal, (many prayers were/are written down) but they don’t communicate directly with God alone, because prayer comes from the heart.

3 thoughts

  1. The bst technology I have found for prayer is in listening to Gregorian Chants (DVD) or instrumental music. Sometimes this can help escort into a centering moment. Secondly, it becomes a way to “share prayer concerns”-but that is the informational part however, when sent those-I can immediately take a moment to pray.

    But media as a form of prayer media-that is tough. I think the image of getting alone in a prayer closet, following Christ’s model of going off before dawn, and centering on Christ without saying anything really helps. In that sense less media/technology is better.

    I have enjoyed the moments in church when we just got quiet-no music, no noise etc. and just allowed time for quiet prayer. This is very refreshing in an often noisy and chaotic society.

    That’s my thoughts! Great topic!
    blessings,
    lisa

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  2. A book that changed how I view my prayer life and understanding how God views prayer is “How to Listen to God” by Charles Stanley. This is about as lo-tech as you can get. When we went to the mission field in 1993 there was no internet to speak of.

    I’ve read and re-read it several time since entering into full-time ministry in 1990.

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  3. love the question on this, Scott. I looked at a lot of prayers apps a few months ago to see if they could help me focus and track my prayers … I always have the darndest time remembering to pray for people specifically. And I always lose track of whether those prayers got answered. Here’s the thing: I realized that mediating my prayers through technology — for me — seems to get me distracted from the one-on-oneness that I need. I’d like to revisit the issue, but for now, I’m praying as normal and then recording in a simple prayer journal.

    Nick Charalambouss last blog post..Three is the magic number

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