I’ve hinted at this before. You don’t need all the details to pray for a Christian friend.
I’ve swallowed the words. I’ve “beat around the bush”. But today was the first time I’ve come right out and said it kindly, but boldly to a fellow Christian. “You don’t need the details to pray.”
We were discussing the pros and cons of social media. Then it was suggested that I keep up a Facebook page for my husband’s health issues. I laughed a little laugh, and said, “Well, it would read about the same most weeks. Doing lousy! You don’t need the details to pray.”
I think the reason the conversation spun in this direction was because of those who do feel free to post all their ups and downs, highs and lows, and needs great and small on social media.
I’m in some of those groups. Praying for a little girl stricken with brain cancer right now. But, I don’t get online and ask nosy questions! I don’t PM them for more details, either. Why? It’s. NOT. My. Business.
This may work well for some folks. If that’s you, please don’t feel judged! My dear one has done some of this vulnerable sharing in the past. Rarely ever, now. Why? It’s very hard to build true friendships on social media alone. Oversharing has resulted in some serious fallout.
And how do you judge when someone is not truly committed to your best interest, loyal in Christian love ? Trust is built over time.
A true friend will walk with you faithfully through the hard times as well as the good. Sharing details with untried friends is like baring your chest and walking through a thicket of blackberries. You’re bound to get shredded by the thorns of everyone’s educated opinion. Or get betrayed by the sharing of information they accidentally let loose.
Church prayer chains can be as challenging as social media.
I’m sorry to say I’ve been the unwilling recipient of some church prayer chain conversations. Not my church family, but truly lovely ladies in many ways. Still, the details they felt entitled to discuss about a third party! Really?
Is that necessary to your prayers? Don’t you realize that what you are sharing about another is actually gossip?
Do you need to dig for the details of where, what kind of cancer, what treatments someone is undergoing, etc…? Why do you NEED to know this information to pray?
Some ladies, I fear, have mastered the art of the compassionate voice so that they can extract information and details that they eagerly share with their inner circle. Men aren’t exempt from the “dig for information”. After all, journalists — male or female — are just another version of Sherlock Holmes.
My own sis-in-love mentioned the challenge of how to answer people’s many questions about her stage 4 breast cancer. What an added stress! I often didn’t know her latest test results, even though I was on her care team and cared deeply. I didn’t pry into her private and painful details. She was also concerned about who would see her house suffering from survival mode.
What your suffering friend most needs is words of caring and prayers. Acts of kindness, helping them share the load while they are in survival mode, will never be forgotten.
“Keep me from the strife of tongues” is a phrase used in Psalm 31:20. While it is written in the context of King David’s enemies, we also see a legitimate prayer model for protection from this specific form of damage.
All throughout the Scriptures, we find prayers and warnings regarding our words. It’s too big of a study to attempt here. Read the book of James and the book of Proverbs for starters.
We’ve all been guilty of sharing details we shouldn’t have at some point in our lives. It’s something we should feel godly sorrow and repentance for — with prayer and determination to please God in this area.
Why? Why would details be damaging? How often is it that we relate a story only to find ourselves being corrected on some detail or another? We’re so human! This is how gossip and misinformation start. You miss one or more crucial details from your friend’s story. It happens to the best of us!
I cannot tell you the times when folks have asked me to give them details about the health issues we face. Then, I accidentally left some important detail out! Weeks roll around before I have time for a personal conversation with that person again.
Or consider the spin or “flavor” that gets added to the details? Our personal opinion about the situation?
In truth, we may be close to or actually spreading lies about our neighbors if we dig for more information than we need. Only the wisest among us handle sensitive information with the kindest and most discreet of hearts.
Even when we’re dying to know more… JUST STOP!
“Child, said the Lion, I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
C. S. Lewis The Horse and His Boy
Pray for each other! Love not just in word, but in deed and in truth.
Let’s take a cue for the books of I and II Peter, written for a suffering, scattered church family. It takes intention and planning. See the word effort?
“Make every effort to add virtue to your faith;
and to your virtue, knowledge;
and to your knowledge, self-control;
and to your self-control, patient endurance;
and to patient endurance, godliness;
and to your godliness, brotherly kindness;
and to your brotherly kindness, love.
For if these things reside in you and abound,
they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” II Peter 1:5-8
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be sober and solemn so you can pray.
Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
I Peter 4:7-8
I’m blessed to see brotherly kindness and unfailing love as the pinnacles of our Christian faith and walk.
We’ve been truly blessed, also, to experience the brotherly kindness and love poured upon us by church family — a small glimpse of God’s eternal mercies. LOVE brings LIGHT and HOPE to dark trials.
Keep unfailing love as that highest goal, dear care-giving wife. God knows all the details of your sorrows and needs. He will be your refuge and help.