Praying the News is a spiritual practice that helps us to negotiate the news of the day and even draw closer to God and neighbour through deep reflection. It incorporates attention, compassion, imagination, wisdom and creativity.
Jesus spent much of his ministry calling us to wake up, open our eyes, ears and hearts to the reality of the reign of God and the suffering of this world. Awareness is a fundamental spiritual practice. We are called to open ourselves to the cries of the poor and cries of the earth. Praying the News begins with the awareness of the world in which we live.
Jesus also calls us to compassion, to deeply engage with others to move towards justice. Praying the News can open us up to deeper compassionate relationships for those who need God’s mercy.
Imagination allows for the Spirit to move through our life experiences. Using imagination in prayer opens up possibilities. Praying the News engages the imagination by starting in places where it is often hard to find the sacred. Where is God in stories about the pandemic? global warming? racism?
Praying the News requires wisdom. In our complex world, information and truth are often tangled into knots of deception. The Spirit of Wisdom helps us to see through bias and spin. For example, the wise reader will look for multiple perspectives and wider context when reading news stories.
Praying the News leads to creativity. Creativity is the opposite of the destructive forces that often dominate our news. Praying the News can lead to the creation of intercessory prayers that lead us from concern for ourselves to pleas for the welfare of our neighbours. Creativity can also be found in artistic responses and social action that follow praying the news.
An Way of Praying the News for High School and Adults
- Read, hear or view the news and focus on one particular story.
- Triangulate your news sources. Incorporate views from different cultures, media and political stances.
- Imagine yourself in the event or talking to the key people. (Skip this step if it is particularly traumatic.)
- Ask yourself, what does scripture and/or tradition have to say about this situation?
- Where is God present or absent?
- Create intercessory prayers, artistic responses or social action.
A way of Praying the News for younger grades (This approach assumes that it will be lead by a parent, catechist or teacher)
- Select a suitable story for the group.
- Using photographs explore the topic with the children.
- Explore what individuals in the story might be feeling and why they might feel that way.
- Ask them what they think Jesus would do about the situation and what can Christians do about the problems arising in the story.
- Remind students that an intercession is a prayer for somebody else who needs God’s help. Ask them to individually or collectively write an intercessory prayer.
- Optional: Ask students to create an artistic response showing how healing can take place in light of the news event.
Benefits of Praying the News
•Praying the News helps us to pay attention to the world and feel more connected to our neighbours.
•Praying the News nurtures compassion.
•Praying the news helps us to be more creative.
•Praying the News helps us to overcomes helplessness. We can do something about gloomy events.
•Praying the News connects us with God, each other and our deeper selves.
Praying the News: A Spiritual Work of Mercy is a two page summary of this practice that includes a sample prayer service. It is created by the Pauline Center for Media Studies.
Praying the News is a prayer form that is included on the Spirituality and Practice website. “This multifaith and interspiritual website, founded by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, is devoted to resources for spiritual journeys.” Their Praying the News blog contains a large selection of prayers that are related to the events of the day.
Examples of their prayers include:
“The vision of the Theology of Work Project is that every Christian be equipped and committed for work as God intends. A Christian approach makes work more meaningful and productive, benefits society and the people we work with and for, gets us through the challenges we face on the job, draws people to Jesus, and brings glory to God.”
They suggest a way of Praying the News. It is prefaced by this question:
What if, when engaging the news in our context, we first create space to meet with God in the midst of a hurting world?Theology of Work
To begin, take some time—either before you read the news or after you have heard a particularly moving story—to quiet your heart. Rest in your identity as God’s Beloved. After taking time to quiet yourself, follow these prompts for praying the news:
- Read through or watch the news story, and offer your initial reaction to God. What do you carry as you come into this time? Surrender that reaction to him and ask for a heart that reflects his. Take a few more minutes of quiet.
- Who in the story do you feel yourself drawn towards? Who do you feel a resistance toward? Has your mind created a dichotomy between “us” and “them” or a “good vs. bad” mentality? Ask God for the humility to see that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
- The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Do you see anything rising up in you that is not of the spirit (i.e. hate, stressful striving, fear, impatience, arrogance, pride, ugliness, apathy, or impulsiveness with words or actions)?
Keep in mind that sorrow over the brokenness in the world mirrors God’s heart. Anger at injustice or brokenness can be the exact thing that moves us towards action, (unless it turns to self-righteousness and condemnation of others).
- In what way can you move toward the kingdom in your own life with regard to the story you’ve just read or witnessed? How can you move in love towards your enemy? How can you seek to understand another’s perspective? What is your prayer towards this situation? How can you move that prayer into your hands and feet and life?
- If you feel an anxious energy to act immediately, sit with this longer. Be sure you are being motivated by love. Your anxiousness may be an indicator of something other than love (i.e. self-protection, ego, etc.).
Praying the news to avert despair an article by Heidi Schlumpf of the National Catholic Reporter.
Praying the News: A Passion and Calling for Carmelite Sisters by Janet Chismar, Religion Today editor