Online Prayer Requests
Many well-known ministries promote online prayer requests as a feature on their organizations' websites. Other internet sites are set up specifically for people to post the needs that they have so that other visitors to the site can pray for them. Depending on the sponsoring site's chosen format, a Christian prayer request may either be submitted to the ministry through an online form or posted on its message boards. These kinds of formats are familiar to most internet users because they have become standard means of setting up feedback features for internet websites. Message boards are popular for bringing together people with similar interests and hobbies to the same websites. Along with information on the specific topic, message boards provide a way for users to communicate with each other. Submission forms are used on many sites to get feedback on a company's products or services, or to request information from a company or organization. Progressive ministries and caring individuals have taken these standard formats and are using them in to minister to people in need.
The proliferation of online prayer requests is a natural result of a twenty-first century society that turns to the internet for all kinds of services, solutions to problems, for information, and to gain a sense of community. By posting a request on a message board, a person can be sure that others will pray for the expressed need. The message board may be part of a larger community that an individual participates in, such as a forum for women who work at home or for new fathers. A community site like this will have a variety of forums and message boards so that people can communicate with each other through postings and leaving comments on message threads. When the website also has a spiritual focus that connects the particular group, a Christian prayer request forum will most likely be available. As the people in the group get to know each other through their shared interest in a particular subject or hobby, they will develop friendships even though they may never meet in person or even talk on the phone. That won't matter. The friendships within the community will help a hurting individual feel that the group is a safe place for sharing needs and asking others to pray. When the other community members respond to the prayer request with concern and love, the friendships are strengthened even more.
As mentioned earlier, many sites that contain prayer message boards are specifically ministry-based. As part of their ministry and depending on the focus of the particular organization, these sites may offer Bible studies, daily devotionals, articles on theological issues and Scriptural commentaries, and sermon outlines. Some ministry websites also provide news commentary and political opinion pieces that keep interested persons informed on important news and issues from a Christian perspective. For online prayer requests, the ministry may choose a message board format or to have requests submitted on an online form. With message boards, users log on to the website with the chosen user name and password. By logging in, the user gains access to the message threads and can post new messages and leave comments on other people's message. When using an online submission form, the individual types the prayer request or need into the designated box. Usually, the person's name and contact information, including an email address, will be requested, but user names and passwords are not required.
In addition to online prayer features, some ministries also offer telephone numbers so that a person can call with a Christian prayer request. Trained volunteers listen to the need and personally pray with the individual. Some organizations offer counseling referral services for people facing especially hard situations or difficult circumstances, such as individuals enduring spousal abuse or struggling with thoughts of suicide. Those groups may also encourage the site's visitors to find a local church to assist with serious needs. Referrals to local churches and counselors don't take away from the power of prayer. Oftentimes, the local church and Christian counselors are God's answer to the prayers of hurting people.
Prayer is an important spiritual discipline for Christians. The authors of the gospels write that Jesus often went into the mountains by Himself to talk to God in private. During Jesus' most dire need, the Son of God turned to the Heavenly Father for solace. The physician Luke wrote that Jesus "went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's case, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him" (Luke 22:39-43). This pivotal event took place in the Garden of Gethsemane, only moments prior to Jesus being illegally arrested and taken away to be beaten and scourged. Christians are encouraged by Jesus' example, and instruction, to pray for deliverance from temptation and for God's will to be done in their lives.
When an individual posts a Christian prayer request on a message board or forum, she is reaching out to a caring community of friends who will lift up her needs to the Heavenly Father. But posting online prayer requests is just one side of the message board format. Reading other people's postings provides an opportunity to pray for the needs of others. After logging in to a site's forum, visitors can comment on other people's posts, offering encouragement and sharing pertinent Scripture passages.
History Of Prayer In SchoolPrayer in public school has been a foundational act since public educational institutions were first begun, and in fact for many years prior. The history of prayer in public school outlines what prayers were given and when, and why and when prayer was removed from public places of learning. Very recently, prayer in public learning environments was ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court to be unconstitutional, because it violated the separation of church and state. The ruling was to allow personnel to lead prayer in public educational institutions was to hold an audience captive to a certain religion or religious belief, which was undermining the choices of individuals who may not subscribe to a particular religion or faith. Consequently praying was removed in 1962.
It is interesting to note in considering the history of prayer in school, that the seminal case precipitating the 1962 decision was brought by Madelyn Murray O'Hair, an atheist who stated that her very young child was offended when asked to repeat a prayer in public school. Quite frankly, one could ask themselves why a child so young would really have the presence of mind to consider a question of such philosophic significance. Most children under the age of 10 have not had enough education to understand why the subject would be offensive. One could infer from the comment of Ms. O'Hair regarding her child's feelings that she was projecting her philosophy onto her child for the sake of bringing suit against the state. Regardless of the underlying cause of the suit, the court ruled in favor of removing praying from public learning environments.
Many view praying in public school a device to raise the consciences of children to the existence of a higher being who expects civil and moral behavior of those who were created - namely everyone. A proclivity to a higher moral behavior has almost always, until recently, been viewed as a good thing, effectively putting restraint on immoral behaviors of children who do not know how yet to behave towards fellow human beings. Children who were attendant in educational institutions prior to the 1962 decision were in the whole, very well behaved not only at home, but also at school and in public. Jesus told his disciples to pray: "Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you:" (Matthew 7:7 KJV).
Morality as taught by a higher being teaches that submission to a moral authority or any authority for that matter, is the duty of all human beings to uphold a decent and law-abiding society. Since the 1962 decision, there has been observed a very marked decline in the behavior of children of all ages within the U.S. public educational systems. The decline has been obviated in the degrading behaviors and foul language that has developed since that time, witnessed to by school teachers, administrators, parents and social institutions. Most recently are the extremely violent criminal behaviors exhibited by seriously depressed and mentally scarred children who used guns to slaughter fellow classmates in cold blood.
The decision to remove prayer in public school is taken by students today as an occasion to buck authority, saying that school authority figures cannot tell them what to do or they'll sue! While the public school praying issue is not the one reason for this bad behavior, it certainly set in motion other cases regarding the right of children to decide for themselves how they will act in public schools and elsewhere. Children are too young to make moral decisions and must be taught the proper and respectful way to behave not only to parents, but to teachers, school authorities and in the social setting. Parents have all but given up on the issues because the state has stepped in and tied the hands of teachers from taking disciplinary action against children who behave badly. Therefore, discipline has all but disappeared in public learning environments. This is why prayer in school is so important. Praying teaches thankfulness to a creator, and inferring that people are morally accountable to God and to all other people as well for personal behavior.
The history of prayer in school is an extremely important issue which should be openly discussed, not for the sake of argument, but to honestly discuss the positive effects praying has on people. Nowhere can one read about any negative effects of praying on anyone, except on those who do not want to be accountable and enjoy treating others with disrespect. By not holding all people accountable for bad behavior, it essentially leaves the door open to ever worsening and even criminal behavior in the classroom, the last place where it is desired. Learning cannot take place in a disruptive classroom where students disrespect the teachers and fellow students. Studies have shown that those patients who are prayed over after operations get better much quicker than those patients who are not prayed over. Praying shows concern and respect for the individual. Therefore praying in educational institutions can also bring back concern and respect for others. Studying the history of prayer in school would open the eyes of students to its importance.
The history of prayer in school is available almost anywhere one searches: in the library, on the internet, in encyclopedias and in church libraries. Christian, secular, and even humanist magazines contain articles on the subject of prayer, which should be considered and understood against the ideas and opinions of others. Much information can also be gleaned in law libraries, available in most universities that have a law facility. For those who do not think prayer belongs in educational places, think about the fact that this country was founded on religious moral principals, and even our country's highest institutions have references to the Bible, the Ten Commandments and prayers engraved in floors and hallways. The reason they are there is because our founding fathers of the U.S. knew the importance belief in God is to maintaining a government whose service is to the people and not itself.