Facebook and Faith (.. prayer)

I was on my way to a meeting not that long ago, driving down the interstate and talking to my mother. The conversation was nothing spectacular in content, until we began talking about a family member that was currently going through a pretty difficult situation – at least they seemed to be.

In the process of trying to decide what the best thing for us to do was, my mother said something I have heard her say thousands of times in my life:

There is not much we can do, but pray for ….

It was the response I gave that caught my attention, but my mother handled it pretty well. I replied:

Well, I don’t have much faith right now. Prayers are not going to help much anyway because they can’t …

I don’t know how to really interpret that response other than to step back and understand the shift that has happened. When you look at the 34.5 years that is my life, the trajectory has been in the direction of being ‘more stable’. Especially when you look at the years by decades, my 30’s are better than my 20’s and significantly more stable than years 1 to 10.

Now look at the last 15 years and I would say that there’s been a slightly decreasing understanding or desire to know God’s plan for my life.

Are the two correlated? I have not thought about it prior to today, but I imagine that they are. There have been definite periods in my life where the despair and pain felt so large that I didn’t know where to turn other than to fall on my knees in prayer.

There was one specific moment that I remember very well (which an email from a friend brought back to my attention today): I was out on one of my ‘meditation runs’, which merely means I run to process information I can’t process sitting on a couch. In the middle of the bike path, just past Hwy 2 in Lincoln, Ne, I went to my knees in tears and prayer. I have had moments of tears before, but never during a run like that.

It kicked off a great period for me personally: I spent time learning about myself and who I was, opposed to who I thought people wanted me to be; I became more ‘serious’ about running and triathlon; I moved to Kentucky developed some great friendships; I eventually met Nikki (and then married her).

The idea of that experience almost doesn’t feel like reality to me as I sit here today. When I look at how decisions are made, happiness is achieved, hope is generated, etc … I get all of those things from trying to do it myself. Here is how I generally seek answers:

1. Myself – spend hours (and hours) thinking through the decision
2. Nikki – what does she think (does it matter to her?)
3. Friends / Family – does someone have experience or input that can help
4. Facebook – what is the response if I post to ‘friends’ on facebook?

Never – Prayer, it just isn’t a part of life for me.

What I am learning by giving up Facebook?

I have never participated in Lent, as it’s not really a common tradition within the christian church I grew up in. The idea of fasting is not a common experience for many and a little odd for most, so it’s just easier to not do it. But this year, the church I currently attend challenged us to think about it and then participate.

As they shared, the idea isn’t about denying ourselves food in order to be obedient; the idea is that we lower our resistance to God’s voice and open up to His voice.

The idea of denying myself food is actually not that impactful as I could easily go all day without eating and not really be bothered. But, I realized that not only has Facebook become a source of distraction, a consumer of my time – it has also replaced my perceived need for prayer.

Yep, I’ve become a person that crowd sources my ‘prayer’.

I have found that I rarely find good answers and it often leaves me making decisions for all the wrong reasons, after all, what if my facebook friends didn’t approve?