September 10, 2009
SCOTTSDALE, (christiansunite.com) -- For centuries chirping was a bird thing. Not anymore. Now millions of people Twitter daily to keep in contact with friends through tweet messages that say what they are doing, much like 58% of the U.S. population who pray daily according to a recent Pew Survey. But can Twitter mesh with spirituality?
"Twitter seems to fill emptiness with short messages of 140 characters or less about what's happening in life. Tweets may provide warmth to senders and receivers like an electronic blanket," says John Groh, author of Rubbing God's Ear With His Promises, a book of prayers. "While Twitter may appeal to some who want self-affirmation, praying arcs away from self by relying on God's promises," he adds.
Like Facebook and MySpace, Twitter is a social interconnector that lets "followers" maintain contact with acquaintances. Reportedly the free service played a role in the uprising in Iran this year and the Mumbai massacre of 2008.
Tweeting makes a home in some churches. Micro- blogging raises the bandwidth in several Nashville, Seattle, Charlotte and New York City churches with tweeting during sermons. One man solicits prayers to God on Twitter and then prints, rolls and inserts them in Jerusalem's Western Wall.
Groh's book of prayers emphasizes a prayerful relationship with God, but he suggests that "tweeting may teach us something about how to pray, connect with God and focus prayer." Each of the book's prayers starts with a 12 to 16 word sentence resembling a tweet to God, then the theme reverberates throughout the average prayer of 150 words.
His prayers wandered like lost dogs in earlier drafts of the book, according to Groh. He finally settled on a sharply focused theme for each prayer. "I didn't think it would end this way, but it brought clarity," he said.
Tweet themes such as these open prayers in Rubbing God's Ear. "Jesus, you are Victory." "Lord God, some call the United States a religious nation." "Creator and Healer, inside me lies a vast wilderness." "Merciful God, remind me to look for the stars at all times." "Holy Spirit, come each day like a whirlwind."
The book's 373 prayers cover many subjects and echo classic themes of faith and devotion. Several hundred photographs encourage meditation.
Groh served as a minister, professor and USAF Reserve chaplain. He received a doctorate from the University of Chicago and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Other books include Facilitators of the Free Exercise of Religion, a decade history of the Air Force chaplaincy.