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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Social media and what?
Date Posted: September 1, 2013

An interesting online survey was conducted by Lifeway

May 24-25 from 1040 respondents to a survey with a margin of error +/- 3.1%. Some of the questions asked were:

  • Q: “How do you feel about God when suffering occurs that appears unfair?”
  • Q: “When a natural disaster occurs, my interest in God increases.”
  • Q: “I trust faith-based disaster relief agencies to use their donations more responsibly than secular groups.”
  • Q: “Praying can avert natural disasters.”
  • Q: “Do you post that you are praying for someone or something on social media (like Facebook or Twitter)?”

To the first question, 33% of respondents said they do trust God more, 7% say they don't believe God exists, and 16% say they don't think about God at all. But 57% of Americans say their interest in God increases after a disaster. A majority of Americans 56% trust faith-based agencies to be more responsible with donated monies than secular groups. Surprisingly, 32% of Americans do not donate to any relief agency. I also found interesting that 33% of Americans believe praying can avert a natural disaster, and 67% will not post prayers on social media. And here's the kicker, 23% will actually take a few minutes and pray while 10% will consider posting an update as a form of prayer.

Concerning the prayer questions, I am surprised to note the answers to the question about posting prayer to social media that:

  • Americans who attend at least About once a week are the most likely to
    select “Yes” (45%) and the least likely to select “No” (52%)
  • Self-identified born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christians are
    • More likely to select “Yes” (51% to 22%)
    • Less likely to select “No” (47% to 75%)

Here is the way I understand those responses: There are 45% of Americans who selected "yes" to posting prayer to social media. There are 52% who are least likely to post prayers... no wait... 52% are least likely to say no to posting prayers on social media. DId I get that right? Click on the link and see what it says to you.

This is that major problem I have with almost all surveys that I hear about and read about. I always, and that means always go to the original source for survey results and invariably I find some fact that is misrepresented in the article I read. Similar to the the article versus the orginal in my latest post on my blog about Christians being happier Tweeters on Twitter. The original study inferred that people who are religious (Christians, Jews, Muslims, AND Buddhists) not just Christians. So, are we truly getting the truth? Even if we are, do we understand what is being said?

I am moved to ask the question: Is prayer really decreasing?

Some people say it is just because the majority of Americans are not posting prayers on social media. Frankly, Jesus said to go in a prayer closet and pray and quit praying those long, drawn out public prayers with the heart intent of showing off the prayer, and not any real petition to God. So, perhaps some Christians would rather pray privately. Interestingly, thought, 10% of those who said they did tell people on social media that they would pray for them in their time of need said they considered that response as a prayer for that person. I wonder, does God consider it a pray of petition for that person?

I know for a fact that David would never have considered it a prayer. I can be lost in wonder at the beauty of his prayers. David's prayer in Psalm 16 begins, A Secret Treasure of David. Watch over me, O God, for I take refuge in You... Or how about Paul's in Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may yet abound more and more in full knowledge and all perception, 10 for you to distinguish the things that differ, that you may be sincere and without blame for the day of Christ, 11 being filled with fruits of righteousness through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Some prayers have been combined with music which settles the soul’s yearning such as David’s cry after he acknowledged his sin with Bathsheba, Create in me a clean heart, Oh, Lord, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and remove not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me, the joy of my salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

What glory shines from our faces and our lives when we exercise our faith by praying? It is well with the soul as one song declares, when we know Who is powerful enough to deliver us from our troubles. And if not deliverance, then we are sustained through them. God is pleased with our faith.

But the simple prayer of Jesus, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," is one of the greatest of all time. The wonder and beauty of this plea from the cross in His darkest hour, and His deepest pain cannot be fathomed in a lifetime. This is our lesson. This is God’s pleasure that we forgive through faith as He forgives us.

The joy that accompanies the presence of God, the forgiveness of God, and the peace from God seems to me like a gift that keeps on giving. Reminding people of God in their time of need is beauty in itself, and it is how God designed His children to be. Each one a part of a whole, careing and giving for the health of the whole. We don't need social media for that, but isn't it great that we can now reach our brothers and sisters around the world with some marvelous comfort of prayer. That is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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