By now nearly everyone has heard about, read about, or seen the provocative performance by Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus at last weekend’s MTV Video Music Awards—probably more than you ever wanted to. The intensely sexual show sparked a flood of responses from both Christians and non-Christians alike, bemoaning the lost innocence of Cyrus, the poor parenting of Billy Ray Cyrus (her dad), her misguided attempt to distance herself from her childhood, and so on. But one of the responses I saw the most was the preponderance of Facebook posts and tweets calling on people to “pray for Miley.” Even a hashtag was created to link them: #prayformiley.
Most people who posted about praying for Miley Cyrus likely did so with good motives and hearts of compassion, but something seems amiss about this public display of conversations with God. My mind gravitates to Jesus’ command to take our prayers to a private place and not to “pray publicly on street corners” as the hypocrites do (Matthew 6:5). Have we simply traded street corners for social media? Such billboarding of our private talks with God comes off as much as a display of self-righteousness as it does an exhibition of mercy or care for others. Praying for people, like Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, is good, but to proclaim that we’re doing so borders on hypocrisy.
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