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Thread: When do prayer requests become gossip?

  1. #1

    Default When do prayer requests become gossip?

    OK, just a quick poser from me with some background.

    I have a prayer request. Maybe someone in my family is ill. I ask my friend to pray.

    Three days later, twenty people approach me to ask if we're OK, they heard we were ill (with pnumonia and a few other things). I scarcely know these people. And no cake, please note: if I hear someone I genuinely care for is ill, I take them cake/chocolate fudge/home-made toffee!

    I am asked about DS's birth, to be told "Oh, I've already heard this story." DH is approached by people he barely knows to be asked how he is. The world and his wife know DS had a scald. The curate asked another close friend what was going on in her life as she'd quit her job, is leaving her house and broke up with her boyfriend (she told just 2 people this - I'm sharing here without names and there's no chance you know her!). All from this one friend.

    We're a bit sick of this, but she has a mental problem that if we tell her to keep stuff confidential because we're upset about sharing she'll break down and cry and threaten to kill herself. Other than just not sharing (or sharing without her, which would be bad if she found out) what can we do?



    We just feel that it's becoming gossip with her, not prayer requests, as they aren't her requests and she's telling non-Christians too. Including people we don't know, save by sight! Maybe she is telling people we don't know too. Yes, we are aware it is a psychological need to be "important" and listened to, but that's not an excuse.

    This is my small prayer triplet, not a big group btw.

    Anyway, when do prayer requests become gossip and what to do about it?

  2. #2

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    Ryn, I think you are just going to have to avoid telling her stuff like this - she has shown both you and your prayer group a lack of respect by not being able to keep your conversations to herself and is putting her own need to be 'in the know' and the source of everyones information above your own needs for help and prayer by carrying on like she does when you tell her she will be excluded - now that's hardly the act of a Christian in my books. I'm not even Christian and I wouldn't do that to anyone.

    She may take it badly or even take it the wrong way, but honestly this may be the only course of action you have available and if she wants to be a 'good Christian' then this will be part of her journey to get there kwim? try to spin it in her favour.

  3. #3

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    I think the difference is in motivation - if you are telling her and she genuinely cares about you, then she will pray for you and the confidence will be kept.
    If you are telling her and she cares more about her, then she will gossip to fulfill her needs and not yours.

    I know sometimes before asking for more information, I am trying trying trying to get into the habit of checking my motives - do I really care? Am I really going to bring this person's issue before God? Or do I just want to know?
    For me, I find the answer in, if I'm content not to know, then I probably care. And, considering God knows everything, it's not like I need many details to pray, God knows what's going on.

    Sorry! That was a bit of a tangent hey. Can you talk to her? Be gentle and direct. Say, hey, I shared these things in confidence, the idea is that we pray for each other and then the issue gets left with God - I'm a bit hurt that all these people are mentioning it to me and then telling me they found out from you. I really love the idea of us supporting and sharing with each other, but I need to know that my private issues don't go outside our group. Maybe if someone wants to know something about me, you can send them to me and they can ask me for themselves?

    Something along those lines? Obviously you'd word it your way.

    All the best, I really hope it works out for you Ryn, I know that a prayer triplet I was in that I loved and valued, would never have worked if the other two girls weren't absolute vaults! I could say whatever I wanted, no matter how shocking or doubting and know that they'd pray, and it wouldn't go any further than that.

  4. #4

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    I have to agree with Nelle and Sherie. If you are going to come together with any group of people to support each other in prayer then you need to have absolute confidence that the issues you talk about are going to remain in confidence. Otherwise, how are you able to share some of the deepest and darkest troubles that you have?

    I guess there would be an argument for letting others know what's going on, but it seems that chinese whispers are at work here. She doesn't care enough about the things she's passing on to make sure they are accurate... means it's gossip to me.

    Having deep-seated psychological issues is no excuse for the continual betrayal of trust. I would hope that in the small prayer triplet that you have, it would be a good way to come alongside her and support her through making the changes in her life that means things shared in confidence aren't passed on to others to make herself feel important, but I really feel that it's not a situation that can continue.

    I hate using the line, but as Sherie said, it's not the Christian thing to do. In fact, this sort of behaviour wouldn't even be tolerated in non-Christian circles. In the secular world, people would simply stop sharing information with her... which I guess would feed her need to gossip as it becomes harder and harder to feel important with less and less information to share. This appears to be something that is important for her own personal growth, and her growth as a commited Christian.

    BW

  5. #5

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    I used to run a Spiritual Circle - not the same as a prayer group but we would have people with terminal illnesses asking for help from God, the angels and for healing energy.

    We had to ask permission from those to be healed to be mentioned in the Circle.

    We had a rule that was whatever was discussed in Circle, stays in Circle.

    If I found out that it was discussed beyond Circle then I (as leader) would have to take the person aside and talk to them.

    I know that the two types of groups are not the same, but:

    Are these rules of confidentiality laid out before you begin?

    Is there anyone running the group that can take her aside and have a chat?

    These may be two ways to stop the gossip.

  6. #6

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    I have always asked people if it's OK to ask friends to pray for them too, it wouldn't occur to me to do otherwise!

    But I think if someone tells me that "I've been talking about you with **** and heard all about your first week at work" then I will go ballistic at the both of them. You either care enough to ask ME about my life when I'm in the same room as you or you don't ask, and if I tell her in a prayer meeting then you don't share, even if I am OK sharing with other people because I would say more at a prayer meeting than to other people.

    I called her psychologist yesterday to ask the best way to tell her to stop, but it will have to be done at the time when she does it again. BTW, few people say "**** told me" but she's the only one who knows who talks to that person, so...

    I'm not going to say much more because I was really challenged by psalm 7:4-5 yesterday (loosely translated as "if you b*tch about your mates then you deserve to suffer and die) and there's helpful sharing and there's straying too far over, so I will stop now.

  7. #7

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    FWIW, I think you were sharing a legitimate problem, and I think you're being a bit harsh on yourself seeing this as gossip as well.

    Sorry if my post was a bit lecturish - I was trying to write quickly at work.

    I understand that you would not share others issues. But unfortunately there are a small amount of people that share other's problems without permission, even in a spiritual setting, which is why we outlined the rules before we began.

    Good on you for asking for advice from the psychologist - I hope it all works out for you.

  8. #8

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    No, I didn't think I was being mean, just I knew that if I continued I would start to overstep the boundaries. I don't want to be mean, I just need this resolved because it is upsetting me and causing a rift in our group now and impartial advice (that won't get back to my friend!) is a good thing in this case. But unwarrented nastiness isn't.

  9. #9

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    Oh, ok, that makes sense.

    I just didn't want you to start putting yourself down (mainly because I think you are brilliant )

    As I said, I hope it's resolved soon.

  10. #10

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    I think You should have a word to your pastor hun. ask for his/her guidance on this too considering it is such a serious matter and it is spoken about in the Bible. I sometimes need to be reminded of confidentiality, especially if someone doesn't tell me that it is to be kept between us. however i do share everything with DH with the knowledge that he wont tell. and i do have to remind him that some things are to be kept between us.

    i think you need to book an appointment with the friend who has had things revealed for you to see the pastor. it is important and you should not be the subject of gossip. have a look in your concordance for scriptures relating to gossip and see what thay say to do if you are the subject of gossiping..

  11. #11

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    I think my advise would be not to tell this friend anything ou wouldn't want several other people to know. If you are seeking prayer, then ask someone else for it. Real intimate stuff should not be shared with this person as it is not beneficial to you or your friend. Thats just my view point though.

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