Has the power of prayer entered the digital age? For me it has. I'm not talking about watching sermons over the Internet, or using the web as a means to collect tithing from the faithful. My experience is simply anecdotal and very personal.
The youngest of our three children has suffered a debilitating nerve injury for more than two and a half years. The Internet was a prime resource for learning about his rare condition and finding and reaching out to experts who could effectively treat him. I wrote a few articles on The Huffington Post about our experiences as a family in dealing with chronic pain. As a result of those articles, this condition which had isolated our son attracted others who were experiencing the same rare condition and who also felt alone. I received emails from strangers with whom, it turns out, I had so much in common. One family was from St. Louis, another was from England. The bond we shared gave us strength and a much needed outlet.
I posted my articles and updates on Twitter and Facebook. That's when something remarkable happened. We were overwhelmed by messages of faith and support. Here is just a sampling of the dozens we have received:
"I wish there was something we could do to take away his pain, but our prayers are with you and your family."
"All prayers headed your (and his) way."
"Sending Mom prayers your way!"
"Much Love, Light and Prayer going to your precious child ... "
"He may be in pain, but he is alive. As long as he's alive there is hope he will be cured or this can be controlled. Kisses and hugs to him and all of you."
"As a parent too, you have only my empathy and thoughts for you all during this time. Love from Dubai."
"Okay, I need a "VERY SAD" button here!!! Blessings and prayers to the younger Signore Moret!"
Prayer is a profoundly personal endeavor but it is also an experience which seems amplified when surrounded by and shared with others. That's why we often seek out a house of worship where we can pray alongside others. Facebook had suddenly become my digital, virtual temple. I was surprised to connect with others on such a spiritual level. For me, the social network had long since transcended the trivial and entered the divine.
People whom I knew only through Twitter and Facebook were taking the time to write and share their faith in a higher power so that we might endure this hardship and witness my son's recovery together. Their faith helped to bolster my own. I had never actually spoken to most of these people but we had communicated through the power of prayer. It was nothing organized and not dependent on a particular belief or denomination, but its impact on my family was tangible and profound.
I have read reports about the dangers of Facebook, in particular, in tearing families apart by reconnecting old loves and prompting clandestine reunions. I had, in fact, personally witnessed this phenomenon. But I had almost overlooked the promise of that very same medium to enlighten and to connect people in a soulful way and lift their spirits. Our son, who feels he is alone in his suffering is, in fact, not alone in his journey toward regaining his health. The positive energy sent our way through these social networks is a valuable lifeline for my family, encouraging us, giving us strength and most importantly, giving is hope. Faith and Facebook may seem an unlikely alliance, but I for one, am a believer.