I recently had an issue responding to a question that someone posed to me on Facebook. The heart of the issue was the "message" aspect of Facebook: If you're online, it pops up in your window. If you're offline, it goes to an Inbox. It turns out that I had it open on another tab and since I didn't see it in that tab I didn't know it was new... You get the picture.
The irony of it all is that Facebook messages are referred to as "conversations." What kind of conversation is this, anyway?
It started my wheels turning on the idea of conversations: what are they for? What do they look like in a world of instant connection and instant response? What do they look like when they don't need sacred space and time, and can be done without a ton of involvement by either party?
Please understand, I'm obviously not an anti-media person. I expend a lot of energy "communicating" on Facebook, Twitter, and on this blog. Yet I understand that any tool we use has a cost - a "yes" and "no" that is simultaneously implied by how we talk to each other. In other words, when we communicate via Facebook message we say "yes" to instant, yet moderated communication. Remember, I can choose to respond or not to respond. So in turn we say "no" to the accountability of face-to-face and the reality of body language and thinking on our feet.
All of these thoughts draw me to one conclusion that I believe is well worth our attention on this Monday:
If prayer is conversation with God, and the state of human conversation is as complicated as it seems to be, what are the implications for prayer? Can we converse with God in the same way we converse with each other? What happens to our "conversation for transformation" (see, not just a title!) with God when our conversation with each other has transformed so drastically through our use of media?
I'm challenging us to think through a third way - can we envision a way in which social media communication actually helps us learn how to pray - how to maintain that opening to God that is so critical for all of us to be transformed into the "us" God desires?