Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reflection: Praying via Twitter

When I first heard about a group of folks praying the Daily Office via Twitter, I was skeptical. "How's that going to work?" I wondered.

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.
@TVA: And all for your love's sake.
Colleague: I'm at Starbucks with four friends.
Arts Blogger: New post up featuring the music of Haydn at Cathedral Concert series.
@TVA: Amen.

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.


Meredith Gould said...

Glad you've zoomed in on the juxtaposition of tweets. On more than one occasion I've been awed by how whatever we're praying from the Office illuminates what's going on in the world. Gotta be a God thing.

Denise said...

When I've prayed with the Virtual Abbey, I've filtered out the tweets to focus only on that stream for the minutes devoted to prayer. But now that you've pointed out the effect of praying the Daily Office within the full stream of tweets, I think I'll try that method next time I can join in.

Penelopepiscopal said...

Denise, let us know how that turns out for you. There are times when it's all just too distracting for me or if I've got some intentions I need to focus on, but keeping the whole stream open gives me a much bigger picture of what's going on in the world and often that encourages me to broaden my concerns.