Reprinted with permission from www.todayschristianwoman.com
How often are our prayers in 140 characters?
by Debbie Jansen
“Are you on Facebook?”
“Yes, but I tweet.”
“Me too. I’ve been so busy I have a twacklog.”
I peeked over my menu to check out my daughter and her friend.
“My tweighborhood has grown to 122 and I’ve reached twequilibrium.”
“Are you kidding? That’s great! I’m just a twewbie. My twibe is very small.”
Sure that my daughter had developed some kind of speech impediment with random “twa” sounds, I became concerned. “Honey, are you okay? What’s wrong with your speech?”
“Oh, Mom, don’t be an illtwitterate.”
After my confusing lunch I decided to check out Twitter. I read the twictionary, set up an account, and sent a few tweets to twiends.
People send tweets from unique places like operating rooms, space capsules, and even Congress when members are bored with the President’s speech. Twitter is defined as “a service that enables millions of people with nothing to say to say it to millions of people.”
Why do millions of people need the feedback of such trivial information? After all, I’m not really consumed with tweets like:
“I’m brushing my hair now.”
“I think I’ll eat a donut.”
“I hope Jack will call.”
“I want to see that new movie.”
“Staring out the window.”
“Still staring out the window.”
What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they have constructive work to do? New technology has given us the tools to produce mounds of productive information and work. Why would someone want to read the mundane?
According to the Boston Globe loneliness is becoming a major health problem. More people are living alone without the daily input of companionship. A Gallup study indicated that about 36 percent of Americans are clinically lonely.
One of our most basic needs is contact with other humans. In the 1920s American institutionalized infants regularly died from a disease called marasmus or “wasting away.” Dr. Henry Dwight Chapin stopped the disease when he investigated a children’s clinic in Dusseldorf where marasmus was almost eliminated. The director, Dr. Schlossmann, explained, “When we have done everything we can medically for a baby and it is still not doing well, we turn it over to our cleaning lady, old Anna.” He pointed to a large woman with a baby nestled on her hip as she washed the floors. “She is always successful with sick children.” Old Anna helped babies survive by singing, talking, kissing, hugging, and giving them constant human contact. The need for touch and contact goes beyond our intellect; it is a deep physical need as well.
We never outgrow that need. As we mature some of the physical contact can be replaced by verbal interactions. Since most families live with a deficit of physical contact perhaps Twitter provides verbal contact that soothes our need to be loved. With parents and children rushing to work, school, and other events perhaps they crave a few seconds of contact even if the message seems silly. It’s soothing to know that someone loves you enough that they care about the trivia in your life.
Touched by the thought of millions of lonely people, I bowed my head and prayed, “God, please comfort lonely people today.” That was all, just a quick little thought. My prayer turned into a grin that elevated to a laugh that eventually shook my office chair.
Jack Dorsey didn’t create twitter. God did. In Matthew 6:9–13 Jesus taught us to pray. As Christians all over the world change his prayer to fit their busy lifestyles it becomes more like Twitter.
“Okay, God. Help me get through this one.”
“Help, God. Whew, that was a close one.”
“Please be with my son today and help him with his test.”
“I don’t know what to do here. Are you still there?”
As our lives bustle with daily routines our prayers have become shorter. Just like millions of people who want their friends to know that they just bought a new pair of shoes or that the new guy at work is hot, we want God involved in our lives as well. We want to feel as though he’s standing beside us and participating in the trivia of our boring lives. How wonderful to know that the God of all creation will take a moment to listen to our tweets and send a portion of his love our way.
There are times when God speaks. Little ways he sends a tweet into our hearts. Maybe we feel the sting of a tear as it slides down our face. Perhaps a child reaches for mom’s neck and whispers, “I love you soooo much.” Through her words God provides us with a comforting tweet.
There are even times like I’ve had when God seems to “tweet” my brain with a message: I’m still here, Debbie, and I love you very much.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17–18 Paul said, “Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
I think I’ll send God a few more tweets today.
Debbie Jansen is a family specialist, speaker, author of Discipline Exposed and founder of The Family Training Center. She writes and teaches the curriculum for more than 90 classes on relationships. www.debbiejansen.com
Printed in Today’s Christian Woman online magazine in October/2011