Our Amazing Experience of Digital Prayer
I've always been a big fan of praying for people on Facebook and I have done a lot of it, but it wasn't until my son broke his leg and needed surgery that I really felt the power of digital prayer for myself.
I've prayed many times for others Facebook as a care giver, but to receive prayers as the parent of a sick child was a different and powerful experience, one which I will try to capture in this post.
In short, it was like this: all those comments, likes, direct messages, as well as email and texts - they were each like a votive prayer candle that was lit for my son, and, though we are separated by time and miles, it was like all those candles were all lit in one place. My Facebook newsfeed resembled the rows of prayer candles you often find in Catholic churches and monasteries - visible symbols of the thoughts and prayers of many, bringing us warmth, comfort, and light - lifting my son and family up to God.
Thanks so much for your love, support, and prayers. It means more than we can say.
Here are a few other things I noticed through this experience of digital prayer:
Once we knew that the leg was broken and he'd need surgery, I posted it on Facebook. I was pretty desperate for support, prayer, and community - and I needed it right then and there. And then the comments started rolling in one after the other - there were 114 in the end. It was such a relief and support. It was much the same feeling as when I went over to church an hour later for Confirmation class. Walking into that room filled with faithful people felt so good. And some had already seen by Facebook post and immediate came up and offered their support.
Social media enabled me to call out for prayer and have people respond instantaneously with all their different words and ways of offering prayer and support. It was amazing.
As things went along and we learned more, we were able to easily update friends through Facebook, and the continued likes and comments made us feel that we were not alone here in the hospital. A whole community of people - family, friends, parishioners, colleagues were walking with us.
We posted when he was going into surgery - our most anxious, emotional time, and then when he was out with the good news that everything had gone well.
Throughout these last 24 hours, every like and comment took on a heightened importance and meaning.
UNITY AND DIVERSITY
We received comments from people from different parts of our lives and were able to see again how we are part of a larger community. Some of our friends are not religious, and they sent their love and thoughts our way. Some friends belong to other religions and they prayed for us out of their own tradition.
FEEL THE LOVE
At one point in the midst of all this my wife said, "I love getting these comments. It makes you feel so loved." And so we did and so we are. Thank you for your prayer, support, love, and friendship. Our son is doing great.
-- photo of prayer votive at Washington National Cathedral by Steve Snodgrass