Should the C of E pray for a speedy recovery on the part of Richard Dawkins? Whyever not? After all, if it feels like doing so out of a sense of genuine compassion, that’s its business.
But should the C of E tweet about praying for Dawkins. Er, no.
And it really doesn’t take a biblical scholar to get why it should not. But since the C of E’s Communications Department appear to be ignorant of the basic tenets of the religion they are espousing, let’s make this easy for them, starting with Matthew 6.5:
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.…”
And while we’re about it, this bit from Matthew 6.1, too:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Like: it’s not exactly rocket science. Pray for individuals out of the goodness of your heart if you want to. But puh-lease: keep it to yourself.
Sometimes, it might just be polite to mention the fact of your prayer to the object of that prayer: but even that is not always appropriate. Mostly, keep it to yourself: something between you and your God.
And if anyone is thinking of updating the gospels any time soon, a good start to the above passage might be:
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to mention the fact on social media and to tweet about it, even unto using the holy hashtag, which is well cool. For truly i say to you, they have their reward in full: and great will be the unfollowing.”