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How to Pray with Emojis

Little icons that can carry a big prayer.

How to pray with emojis
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Can you imagine someone explaining emojis to you 20 years ago? Imagine your surprise when that same person says, “You’ll be using these things all the time. On your phone, in texts, in emails, in Zoom sessions.” (As if you knew what Zoom was.)            

Then picture that person explaining that there’s this emoji  for prayer. It can be used again and again, to punctuate a text or a feeling. That same emoji might remind you how often what we say or do is a prayer.

Maybe I should title this article “How to Pray Without Ceasing” because prayer emojis can be a reminder of just that.

We should be wary of the intruding presence of our cellphones. The way they buzz in our pockets, the way they can distract us in our busy lives and simply add to the busyness. Before you use your prayer emoji, do this:

Minimize your notifications. My phone used to buzz for every email. No longer. I took that off of my notifications. I can check emails whenever I want by simply logging onto my computer. Someone needs an immediate response? They know where to find me.

The one notification I really like comes from the YouVersion Bible app that sends me a verse at 11:14 a.m. everyday. A sweet reminder of the big things that matter.

Use an emoji to pray for others. Maybe you’ve been asked to pray for someone. That friend who’s going into the hospital for cancer treatment. Those neighbors who are struggling in their marriage. The couple from church whose daughter has just gone into rehab. 

You want them to know you’re thinking of them, but you don’t want them to have to stop everything to take your call or respond to your email/text. You put that image of a caring face into your email, as you say, “No need to respond.” And then you add those praying hands. 

A picture’s worth a thousand words. See, you didn’t even need to say it. You didn’t risk sounding holier-than-thou by emphasizing your prayer. You just emphasized it, punctuated it, with a sweet picture.

“Congratulations” you want to say, over the good news of someone’s marriage or graduation or new job. You put all that down in your text/email. But you also want to say that your thankfulness comes with prayers of thankfulness that they can share. That we all can share.

There goes the emoji.

A heart or a hand can be a blessing too. Give someone a hand in that Zoom session. You don’t want to interrupt what’s being said but you want to add your appreciation and approval. There goes that heart or hand. Whenever we say the Nicene Creed in church, I want to use the heart emoji. Because that word “believe” feels even bigger than anything our language can say.

“We heart believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…”

There’s a   prayer for you. Amen.

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