But then I began following @Virtual_Abbey (full disclosure: Meredith Gould is currently serving as abbess of The Virtual Abbey) and participating in Twitterstream prayer myself.
I found it to be like praying out on the street, in the middle of traffic, surrounded by ever-changing digital billboards and newsies shouting out the latest headlines. It was amazing, actually. The prayers and the happenings in the world and the concerns of my friends, acquaintances and colleagues all mashed up together. It looked something like this:
@Virtual_Abbey: Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand...International Charity Organization: Watch this wonderful video about our latest project in Somalia.
Friend: The class reunion was wonderful! So great to reconnect with old friends!
Local News Source: Woman's body found in trash bag behind apartment complex, see story here:
Friend: My cousin works in Tripoli - please pray for her safety!
@TVA: Give rest to the weary, bless the dying...International News Source: Clashes continue in Libya between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces; thousands dead.
Clergy Friend: Three funerals this week and another tomorrow.
@TVA: Soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted...Christian Blogger: Just posted a new poem on my blog - link here:
International News Source: Unemployment figures were higher than anticipated this week; economy continues to slump.
Priest Friend: Headed to bed. Goodnight all!
@TVA: Shield the joyous...@UnvirtuousAbbey: For all who feel like Jedi when doors open automatically for them, let us pray to the Lord.
Acquaintance: Celebrating 25 years of marriage today!
Local Church: Join us for community healing service tomorrow at 7:30.
National News Source: Monster thunderstorms rip through the South.
Arts Blogger: New post up featuring the music of Haydn at Cathedral Concert series.
I admit I can't do this every day. I can get distracted and lose the intentions I wanted to bring before God in prayer. But I find that prayer via Twitter keeps me connected to the world's needs and not just my needs. It reminds me of being in the middle of a painting of Bruegel (the elder or the younger, take your pick) where all sorts of small dramas are being played out within the larger scene.
Being intentional about public prayer challenges us to be present, not only to God, but to the world around us.