Prayer Requests=Gossip for Christian people.
If you are active in the Christian community, you will know exactly what I’m talking about here.
It’s like God is giving us permission to share secrets, right? I mean, we want people to pray and the more the merrier, so I’ll just tell everyone I know about these serious secrets, and then we’ll all just pray about it. Totally innocent.
Not so much—
I have been on both sides of this one—I have shared a friend’s prayer request with a mutual friend for no other reason than to inform her of the information I received and as long I ended it with, “…so you have to pray for her.” Then I’d be covered. It didn’t take long after I made that mistake for me to just feel terrible and guilty—I knew I had messed up. Ugh!
One time I asked a friend to pray for me about our decision to homeschool. This was way back when we were still on the fence and I wasn’t sure if I could even do it. Lots of self-doubt here, guys—not pretty and not exactly something I wanted shared with the world.
So later that same day I received a facebook message from a mutual homeschooling friend—telling me that’s she would be praying for my decision—it was actually a very encouraging and sweet note. But it did bother me that my other friend shared my “secret” with another person within a matter of hours!
I’m sure her intentions were good—and really, they usually are, but it wasn’t her news to share. It was mine.
Are you seeing it yet? The way that Christians can gossip for free—with no guilt?
This is a little loophole that nobody likes to talk about because the word gossip is such an ugly word.
But let’s call it what it is and get past it.
When someone comes to you asking for prayer, they are in a very vulnerable state, because for most of us—asking for anything and admitting you need help is super tough and super humbling. To take advantage of that trust under the guise of being a good Christian is an absolute betrayal. I’m sorry, it just is.
[Please hear me when I say that there are exceptions to every rule—if someone is threatening to do harm to themselves or others—then it is time to speak up.]
So how can we put a stop to this? How can we do better and end the culture of gossip?
- Simply ask that person, “Is it ok if I share this prayer request?” It seems obvious, but I think it’s an important step that is often overlooked.
- You still need to be careful about who you are sharing with. Having permission to share a request doesn’t give you absolute freedom to share with just anyone. Check yourself—is this person really someone who can passionately pray in agreement with you? Or are you just sharing in order to tell a secret? (ie: gossiping!)
- Have a safe group to share prayer requests with. I lead a small women’s Bible study and there are around 10 of us who meet weekly. During that time, we share prayer requests. I trust these women and I know that whatever is said inside that room is absolutely safe. (But I am still careful to not share too many details and then not allow it to turn into a gossip session.)
- Have a prayer mentor. Find someone outside you’re circle of friends (that you trust) to share the big stuff with. The stuff that feels too heavy to handle alone. If I’m honest, I have shared stuff with my prayer mentor that I didn’t necessarily have permission to share, but there are things that I just don’t know how to pray for or where to begin. It is never shared in order to gossip—only as a way to learn to pray more effectively.
But seriously, Christians, there are people within our faith who have been viciously hurt because of this sneaky little loophole. This dirty little way to gossip–this is how rumors get started and spread—and this is why people leave the church and never look back.
This is also why people can never be fully released of the shame and guilt—because if there is constant life being breathed into our pasts, we’ll never be able to move beyond it.