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Emails, social media and praying for George

Reflecting on the role emails and social media played in gathering people to pray for a Baptist diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. By Sam Douthwaite

I read the command to gather the Israelites to prayer in Joel 2:15-16 and imagine how the message would be passed from house to house, village to village by word of mouth. In our fragmented culture of 2013, people can live next door to their neighbours for years without ever entering into a meaningful conversation.

The world is a smaller place. Many Christians no longer attend the closest church. Rather they window shop until they find a church that meets their felt needs and they're willing to hop in the car and travel to their preferred gathering place. Communicating with the brethren is rarely walking down the street and knocking on the door. These days it's un-locking the ever charged smart phone and accessing the emails or text messages.

As a leader of a ministry with over 60 volunteers, I spend more than half of my working week sat behind a computer screen. It's not ideal but in today's world it's almost unavoidable. Yet while both social media and emails have their drawbacks, they are both undoubtedly powerful tools in gathering the body of Christ to focused prayer.

This was evident when Ian Britton from Beacon Lough Baptist Church arranged a circle of prayer for George and Carole McLaughlin. The aim was to create a 24 hour circle of prayer around George and the family. To pray for healing and peace!

Jesus encourages us in Matthew 18 to pray in agreement. He encourages us Luke 18 to cry out day and night. The vision was to gather 96 people who would pray for 15 minutes each, thus sending unceasing prayer to the throne room of heaven, day and night for 24 hours. When Ian sent me his original email, I logged onto the online document to view the schedule. Only a few people were signed up. I put myself down for the 12pm slot - some hardy souls had already volunteered for the early hours of the morning.

A day later I checked back and almost every slot was taken. A lot of people from different villages, towns, cities and ministries, gathered within 2 days to create a 24 hour circle of prayer for our mutual friends George and Carole - wonderful. Social media and emails do have redeeming qualities after all.

Sam Douthwaite leads Street Pastors in Newcastle and is pastor of The Gateway Church. He was one of the prayer circle for George McLaughlin

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