Oklahoma’s Oral Roberts University is known for having the world’s largest praying hands sculpture, according to some. Standing some 60 feet tall, these folded hands are definitely a sight to behold.
The sight of praying hands, though, is not limited to a bronze statue in Tulsa. They are now seen in everyday life through text messages, social media posts and more, with the sudden rise of the “folded hands/praying hands” emoji.
This simple symbol is most often used to mean, “I’m praying for you…” (Or other times, “I’m grateful”).
I find myself using this emoji more and more. There recently was a backlash on social media to people using this emoji or commenting, “I’m praying for you” after a tragedy strikes. Cynical people across the Internet rejected that emoji and phrase as insincere. To some degree, I am confident they were right; that for some, it was just something to say in a difficult situation.
I must admit that I have been guilty of using the prayer hands but not actually praying (or not praying fervently at least). At the same time, I think most people who say “I’m praying for you” or use that emoji really want to be supportive and many times really do wish to seek the Almighty’s help in the situation.
So how can we do better to align our beliefs with our actions? One life hack I have learned is to pause and pray for that individual or family, before I ever let them know I’m praying for them. Another simple step is to avoid using the emoji altogether, if it is not true, but to use the urge to use it as a cue to pray.
The Bible gives Christian believers this admonition: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18 ESV). The Bible also tells us to beware of doing our acts of righteousness to be seen by people (Matt. 6:1). The next time you are tempted to do the praying hands emoji, do this: Pause, Reflect and Pray. Then, if you feel led to let that person know you are praying, go ahead and send a prayer gram and the emoji. In so doing, we may all find ourselves doing a little more praying and a little less posturing.