In this age we live in, it seemed for a long time that there was a space for everyone on the internet except Christians and the Church. However, to quote one of Ernest Hemingway’s characters “gradually then suddenly”, the presence of Christianity on the internet has exploded. Whatever denomination you belong to, there are more and more places that feel at home on the internet.
For many, far too many, life is lived in the digital world and one may know someone halfway around the world better than their next-door neighbour. However, the COVID19 pandemic has helped many to rediscover their community and shared humanity. Concurrently, because we are social creatures and our lives have not been centred only around where we live, there are many places and communities we have longed to stay in touch with.
Places of worship were one such place and here in the United Kingdom for the first time in over 300 years, the State forced all places of worship to close their doors. It was an unbelievable moment but also one that could foresee as there were a few faith communities who believed they were immune to the virus. Sadly, they become hotspots for the virus.
The Church of England demonstrated agility that belied her age. The worshipping communities moved online and many experienced greater attendance than they had in years. However, church online has been primarily about making the physical service available to view from home.
The opportunity to transform the physical experience to the digital world is still in its very early days and why it is such an exciting time for us at the Digital Church Platform®. We have been working very closely with the church administrators, priests and others who support the delivery of the mission to make them more productive and provide all of the necessary church tech tools - simple and easy to use but effective. At the same time, we have been speaking with members of the congregation and the broader community that a church engages with to make sure their needs are met - what they want to see, read and hear as well as making it easy to access and engage.
One area that is fundamental to the life of a Christian and practised widely by believers and many non-believers is prayer. When faced with a challenge or an opportunity, who hasn’t steadied themselves by asking for help or thanking for benefits brought to the individual? It is so much part of our daily lives many of us don’t even think about it - praying is like breathing - something that one just does naturally.
We seem to learn at a very early age this verse
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will. (Mark 11:24)
All of us have our way of praying but with the churches closed even the possibility of silent prayer or lighting a candle in the house of God was taken from us. That is when we quickly worked to create a digital prayer wall.
What is a digital prayer wall? A digital prayer wall is a designated digital space for people to post their prayer needs. It is text only. It is also a repository where the surrounding community of believers will pray for the posted requests.
One of the first churches to benefit from it is St Katharine Cree, located in the City of London. Their prayer wall has grown and grown. A prayer can be submitted anonymously through the prayer request button at the top of every page.
All prayers are first reviewed by the priest through an automated email and they then approve for display or not. As it is a public space, an element of control is necessary. Visitors to the wall can then give their love and support to the prayer and a small counter identifies who else identifies with the prayer. Every week, a small group of the congregation gathers to read aloud each of the prayers. It is a mixed-mode. The physical and the digital. Some people zoom in and others are fortunate to be in the church. The church online.
Many of you will remember Mathew 6:5-6
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The prayer wall on Digital Church Platform® is not a place for a show.
It is a place where we can all recognize each of us has our own cross to bear, it is a place where we can post a prayer and have it blessed by a priest.
It is a special place.
A place of peace, blessings and hope.
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