Facebook, in recent weeks, has started asking for your prayers in a new tool now available for U.S. Facebook Groups.
The prayer feature is part of Facebook’s recent and concerted outreach to the religious community.
Facebook is speaking about in detail to media for the first time.
In 2017, CEO Mark Zuckerberg cited churches in a lengthy manifesto on connecting the world and the company created a team focused on “faith partnerships.”
COVID gave new urgency to the efforts, Facebook’s head of faith partnerships Nona Jones told Reuters in an interview.
The new prayers product was spun up after the company saw an increase in people asking each other for prayers during the pandemic, said Jones, who is also a pastor in Florida.
The outreach culminated in the company holding its first virtual faith summit with religious leaders last month.
At the end of May, Facebook made its prayer tool, which it had been testing with some faith communities, accessible for all U.S. Facebook Groups to turn on.
In one private Group seen by Reuters, a woman used the tool to request prayers for an aunt sick with coronavirus.
People replied by clicking a button to say “I prayed,” and their names were counted underneath.
Users could choose to be notified with a reminder to pray again tomorrow. Others requested prayers for a daughter’s broken heart, a son’s driving test and problems with an insurance company.
Early in the pandemic, Facebook sent “starter kits” of equipment like small tripods and phone holders to faith groups for live-streaming and shooting content as places of worship closed down.
Facebook launched a faith resources website with e-learning courses and quizzes on best practices, touting that “the people your house of worship wants to reach are on Facebook platforms already.”
This year, it has started up an Interfaith Advisory Council to hold regular meetings with faith leaders and educators.
As well as consulting religious leaders – who told Reuters their wish lists for the site included church planning tools and emojis showing more diverse forms of worship.