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Allow me to introduce you to the Prayer Room:

Prayer Room

Please use this room to post prayer requests of praise, petition, and thanksgiving. Please do not address other users or carry on conversations.

Originally the idea was to have a place we can post links to pastoral questions so that they may be acknowledged without remaining on the site. Anyone can read the posts and it may soon be possible for authors to see their own deleted posts if they have a link. So the room could have a practical purpose (justify deleting pastoral advice questions quickly) and possibly a spiritual purpose as well (anyone who is interested may bring these questions before God in prayer).

However, there's no reason the room couldn't be used by anyone wishing to submit their petitions, praises, and thanksgivings. We must follow a few ground-rules, however:

  1. Any chat message may be deleted by any ♦ moderator at any time for any reason.

  2. The primary reason for deleting a message is that it contains something that might be construed as advice, gossip, gratuitous self-promotion, or anything that isn't a prayer request.

  3. The experiment may end at any time and the room deleted for any reason up to and including "it's too much work to moderate". (Lack of interest may be more likely, however.)

What do you think?

  • 2
    If it were possible I would like to see a rep requirement higher than 20 to post. I'm thinking like 1000 or so on C.SE. This will keep the new users from another SE site from spamming like a certain person did a few weeks ago. This also ensures that they have experience with C.SE (not just SE in general) and follow the rules well enough. – 3961 Mar 26 '13 at 21:03
  • Maybe not 1000. Maybe 500 is better. – 3961 Mar 26 '13 at 21:42
  • What a friend we have in Jesus. – 3961 Mar 26 '13 at 21:49
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    @fredsbend we're not going to get any specific support for this room, and that would include a site specific increase in rep requirement. Any user with rep >=20 on any site on the network has access to the entire chat.se server unless the rooms are private. Private rooms are only for moderation purposes. The third option is to make it a gallery room where only specific people can talk. I feel like that defeats the purpose of the room. – wax eagle Mar 26 '13 at 23:57
  • Well, it's been a while. What do you think about this room? – 3961 Jun 16 '13 at 7:12
  • @fredsbend: I've added an answer summarizing activity so far. My conclusion is inconclusive. On the one hand, it doesn't seem to be attracting too much unwanted attention and the junk it has collected is easily cleaned up. On the other hand, I don't know how much value it has added to the site. – Jon Ericson Jun 17 '13 at 19:13
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Results (so far)

Prayer Room status

The key number is in the bottom right corner: 47 messages so far. That number does not include deleted messages of which we've seen a few:

  • Someone just stopped by to say "hi".
  • Someone thought it was a place to petition for information about Area 51 proposals. (This seems to be a misunderstanding of the word "prayer" in English.)
  • Someone left a very offensive comment after a conflict on the main site.

These were all deleted in short order. The room is on my favourite list, which means I see new items very quickly if I happen to be logged into chat. My policy is to delete first and ask questions never. If a true prayer is deleted, God will have seen it.

All the rest of the items seem to be legitimate prayers and not overly gossipy or spammy.

So far, I see no reason to pull the plug on the experiment.

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    Thanks for the update. – 3961 Jun 17 '13 at 19:21
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Here's why I like it

  1. Any prayers or praises to our Holy God are permanently in His mind. Within this room they can now be in ours. We cannot easily forget when it can clearly be read.

  2. Sometimes what I am praying for means more to me when I write it out. Seeing my own words to God over and over, and examining them multiple times helps me realize that God does not forget them and they are forever held in His thoughts.

  3. Seeing 'hearing' the prayers of others reminds us that we are all mortal and we are all sinners. We can gain encouragement from seeing the praises offered to God by another, and sympathy for our fellow believers from seeing the pleadings for mercy, grace, and intervention. Through prayer, we can bear each other's burdens (user's burdens), when lack of proximity does not permit.

  4. This record of prayers can show proof to fellow believers that God does work in our lives. We can post a prayer of petition one day then praise for His intervention the next.

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Here's why I don't like it (or more accurately what I fear about how it may be used)

  1. Someone may post a prayer asking God to violate His own nature. I'm talking about blasphemy. I would hate it entirely if this room were used for such wickedness.

  2. New users with barely 20 rep or users from other sites may ignore the room's purpose and post inappropriate things. I am mostly worried about advice and spam and also flags that will make the room a burden to mods.

  3. It is highly personal and I am not sure the staff for SE will like it. Maybe they don't care because it is a chat room.

  4. Would the prayers be real? I know it does not necessarily matter, but are people actually willing to share their intimate prayers to God with us strangers? I think this is evidence that this room will have very little activity. But I don't think that is a reason to shut it down.

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I'm not sure I see the purpose of this room, either. The point of a "prayer request" is to request that other people agree with you in prayer. Yet you've restricted it to where they must talk to God. You don't need to post online to talk to God.

A prayer request is just a request for other people to pray with you. Something you say to God is just a prayer.

When originally described, I thought that's what this room would be about. The people who make pastoral posts aren't addressing God. They are addressing what they assume to be fellow Christians. And while I understand preventing a conversation due to the mission of the site, making it where they have to direct it towards God just defeats the purpose of allowing requests in the first place.

It's no wonder the room has been frozen for nearly a month.

  • I think the room has been frozen because people lost interest. I posted in it frequently for a while, but then lost interest. It remained unfrozen for about nine months, so you might call the experiment a success, but maintenance failed. – 3961 Jan 12 '14 at 0:57
  • I've unfrozen it, you're free to post prayer requests again. To me the purpose of the room is so other folks can be involved in prayer together. Anyone is welcome to post a prayer or prayer request. There's no reason someone might not pray in another room, or in their own personal life. As far as discussion goes, it's welcome to happen in any other room associated with this site, if you'd like more info on a request, perhaps find the requester in another room. – wax eagle Jan 12 '14 at 18:58
  • Yes, and I'm all for what you say, @waxeagle. I just think the requirement that you must address God hinders that. I know why it's there, to keep people from starting a conversation, but I think it would be better if you could (also) post something like "I request prayer about...." instead of "God, please help me with...." The latter just seems odd for a prayer request, like I think I'm submitting a prayer to God via a chat room. Either way, the reason I'm sharing is for other people. They are the intended audience. – trlkly Jan 12 '14 at 19:33

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