Praying the Rosary involves three simultaneous actions, says Catholic Kathryn Reklis, assistant professor of Modern Protestant Theology at Fordham University. “You pray repetitively, while meditating on something that is not explicitly the words of your prayer, while your hands do something else.” Can you do that online? asks Reklis. “Sure! There are many mobile apps that offer aids for praying the Rosary,” and “as our handheld devices become more thoroughly integrated into our lives, tapping a screen may not be so different than shifting a bead in the hand.”
Digital prayer apps and websites, she says, offer visual and aural dimensions of contemplative prayer that can help lift us out of the “verbal dominant” assumptions about prayer.
Lerone A. Martin, assistant professor of American religious hstory and culture at Eden Theological Seminary, points to Prayrlist, a social media platform that allows users to learn instantly of the prayer requests of other users, and to indicate that the request has been received, heard and prayed over. “The effect of Prayrlist and other social media on the tenor and nature of our prayers and spiritual practices is a hotly debated topic,” he says. “Nevertheless, Prayrlist does remind me of an old adage often repeated in the faith community of my youth: ‘Prayer knows no distance!’“
These and other reflections are included in a six-part blog series, Prayer and Social Media, archived as a downloadable PDF file on the website of The New Media Project , whose purpose is in part to help pastors and religious leaders employ new media to strengthen faith communities. For more reflection on prayer and the prayer life, read our feature article, “Meeting God in Holy Silence.” You might also want to explore the articles and links on our Spiritual Practices page, located under the Congregations heading.
Insights Into Religion, August 14, 2014