The Staying Power of Hashtag #Prayfor

Pastor Mark Carroll, center, leads the congregation in prayer at South Walker Baptist Church in Walker, La., Aug. 2, following floods in the area. (AP Photo)
Pastor Mark Carroll, center, leads the congregation in prayer at South Walker Baptist Church in Walker, La., Aug. 2, following floods in the area. (AP Photo)

After major tragedies, social media lights up with calls for prayer. One reason, based on a new survey: A majority of Americans rely on prayer in the hope for healing, finding ‘God in that space.’

A popular hashtag on Twitter these days starts with #prayfor, followed by the place of a major tragedy, such as #prayforNice or #prayforOrlando. In politics, Hillary Clinton often tweets about praying after such tragedies while Donald Trump has welcomed prayers from church leaders. In the United States, meanwhile, major media have begun to take note of the high number of prayer services held in religious institutions, especially after such tragedies.

At a time of a decline in church attendance, why is prayer still so prominent in the public square?

One reason, suggests a nationwide survey by the nonpartisan Barna Group, is that a majority of American adults – 66 percent – believe that God can heal. Even more people (68 percent) have prayed for God to heal someone. And more than a quarter of American adults have experienced healing through prayer.

Both the practice and belief about prayer vary widely by region, gender, race, education, age, and religious affiliation. Blacks, for example, are twice as likely as whites to say they have experienced spiritual healing. Still, the role of prayer in daily life has remained a powerful presence, as witnessed after recent tragedies, on social media, and in surveys. According to N.T. Wright, a famous Anglican theologian, the purpose of prayer for Christians, based on Jesus’s instructions in the Lord’s Prayer, is “to seek God’s power in furthering its ultimate fulfillment.”

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SOURCE: The Christian Science Monitor

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