When I set my Advent Plan, the first aspect of my plan was to be prayerful during the time that I spend updating my work Facebook site. I thought that this would be easy. Each morning, my first task of the day is to post some inspirational messages to the St. John the Evangelist Spencerport Youth Ministry facebook page. I really enjoy this, but knew that I could make it a more prayerful experience for myself. I also thought that being more prayerful during this time would help me to be more connected to finding posts that the teens and their parents might find helpful. I wanted this prayer time during Facebook to set the tone for my day.
The first couple of days, I kept finding myself getting distracted. I know, it’s unusual to get distracted while reading Facebook, right? I would click on some links, hoping that they might lead to something I could repost. Soon, I was completely off-topic and had lost the prayerful tone of what I was trying to do. I regrouped and came up with a better method. Here is how I am able to pray while using Facebook.
1. Prepare to be prayerful on the way to work. Since Facebook is going to be my first task of the day, I use my commute time to begin praying. I picture my youth group teens’ faces and think about the things they have shared with me. I pray that I will allow God to speak to the teens and their parents through the Facebook posts I will make. I pray that my heart will be open to God’s messages and that I will be able to discern posts that will touch others. I pray that I will be able to stay focused and that God will direct my thoughts as I work on this ministry.
2. I arrive at work a little early. Luckily, the bus schedule gets me to work about half an hour before anyone else arrives. This is a blessing, because I know that I will have some alone time with no interruptions.
3. When I arrive at work, I have a little ritual. I go to my office, put away my things, make a cup of tea, and settle in to work on the youth group Facebook page. I do not read any emails before I open Facebook. I do not answer any phone messages. I do not “quickly” finish another project. I have made this Facebook page my priority (at least for Advent) during my first half-hour of work. I don’t allow any other tasks to distract me.
4. I stick to certain texts when I am posting. I read the daily Mass readings and choose a short passage from Scripture. I subscribe to “Read the Catechism in a Year, ” which gives a few verses from the Catechism, and I choose a couple of sentences from that. I choose a passage from Richard Rohr, an author I am enjoying right now. I have a couple of books with daily inspirational quotes that I look through to see if there is a quote I want to post. I read about the saint of the day to see if I can post something about him or her. I stick to these texts for reference so that I don’t get sidetracked by looking all over the internet for items to post.
5. For each item that I post, I search the internet for a picture or photo that goes with it. For me, this is a very prayerful time, as I try to find a photo that evokes the meaning or feeling of the item I am posting. I feel so joyful when I can put a great picture with a great quote. Searching for the picture does not sidetrack me, and if I can’t find something fairly quickly, I post the words without an accompanying picture.
6. When I am done with my posts, or when half an hour has passed, I say a short prayer of thanks for the words that have been posted and ask God to help the message get wherever they need to go. I sometimes repost whatever words have been most meaningful to me on my personal Facebook page and direct my friends to “like” my Youth Group page. I hope that our page will grow, but it is more important to keep posting good content than to spend a lot of time trying to publicize the page. (By the way, you are welcome to visit the page and LIKE it!)
It is not easy to keep myself focused sometimes. My mind wanders and some interesting item may catch my eye. I am working on remaining mindful and prayerful for this entire half hour process. When I do, I feel peaceful and loving and ready to begin the other work that is waiting for me.