“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-3, cf Heb. 13:7).
An obvious aspect of being watchmen for the Lord in a post-truth generation is to pray for our political and spiritual leaders – but let’s remember too the many who shape and influence our thinking through the media.
We have so much to be grateful for as a result of the valuable (and often highly courageous) efforts of genuine reporters – just as we have to Dr Luke who set down the events of Jesus’ life in the best media of all: the gospel that bears his name, and the Acts of the Apostles.
These are documents that we can trust. Not so all we read in the papers. On the handful of occasions over the years when I have been acquainted with the inside facts of stories that are in the news, I have often been dismayed to come across gross factual inaccuracies at both local and national levels. These have been at best misleading, and sometimes downright wrong.
Given the extreme pace at which most journalists have to produce their material, this is hardly to be wondered at – but since wrong information can have a seriously lasting effect in people’s thinking, let’s pray for the record to be set straight and people be alerted to what really happened.
There is a world of difference, of course, between basic factual errors, and the ‘fake’ news that deliberately – and often maliciously – sets out to mislead and to misinform.
When you then factor in the editorial ‘slant’ dictated by owners and moguls, not to mention the demands of their followers, it is hardly surprising to find objective truths bent like trees swept into shape by the prevailing wind.
May the Lord sharpen our awareness to be able to distinguish good from evil, and truth from untruth. In other words to see through any slant that may be present in the way in which news items are being presented – and all without becoming cynical ourselves! For instance I learnt years ago that it is often wise to compensate for the left or right leaning of certain publications.
Facebook have now come up with some tips for helping to identify fake news.
If truth in the media is important for us in the West, how much more for the people of countries such as North Korea, to take the most extreme example of all, deprived as they are of any official access to the outside world. China likewise, though it is extensively wired, has no access to the wider Internet.
Amnesty International notes that China “has the largest recorded number of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world“. The size of the Chinese Internet police force was reported by the state government to be 2 million in 2013.
Article from Wikipedia.
The reference to there being two million people employed in China in watching and blocking people’s emails and viewing habits reminds us what a serious matter cyber control is, let alone cyber warfare. The more I have learnt about the intensely sharp minds, and immense resources that Russia is dedicating to this, the more it endorses the claim by the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, that Russia, (which apparently launched 6,500 cyber attacks against Ukraine in November and December 2016 alone) that “There is [now] a global cyber war of Russia against (the) whole world”.
Time was when the US boasted of being able to eavesdrop on conventions in the Kremlin. In the whole realm of cyber intelligence the Russians have long since caught up. Long before matters became blatant the day before being elected to the Presidency, French intelligence services were reporting increasing electronic intervention against the Emanuel Macron campaign. Unlike Hillary Clinton, they were ready when the attack came.
A really serious attempt to destabilise Montenegro, which is on the point of joining NATO, is another example along these lines.
Ukraine likewise blamed hackers for knocking out part of Kiev’s power grid in December, and for attacks on the defence and finance ministries and the State Treasury.
Many around the world remain extremely for the ever increasing clampdown against journalists, civil servants and members of the police in Turkey. This link is but one of hundreds you can find on-line.
For self-evident reasons you might also like to search the phrase ‘control of media in Russia’ in Google too.
We mentioned Iran in this respect in this recent blog entry: How Reporting has Changed on the Internet.
It soon becomes clear that just what a vital role the media plays with regard to all things we associate with freedom in its broadest sense – which most definitely includes religious freedom.
We pray for that which is truly wholesome, informative, and above all God-directed to make it to the airwaves – and from there into people’s hearts. Pray for every true initiative across the world to bring the gospel into people’s hearts and home.
Pray that people who have been exposed to short term visual fixes and sound bites may take the time and trouble to seek out the fuller story and fairer perspectives. And that such articles may exist to explore these issues in fuller depth!
Above all, let’s pray for the Spirit of Truth – Jesus Himself – to be at work work in and through the many and varied forms of media.
Take a Christian broadcasting venture (e.g. Sat 7) and pray for God to use it to His glory.
Then take a country and pray for people to be reached for Him there through the media.
Other Suggestions for Prayer:
- Lord, You came to bring good news; by contrast our media outlets tend to be dominated by quite the opposite. We praise You for every honourable expression of the media – and pray that You will lead and direct what is seen, shown and understood.
- We pray for reporting be as free, fair and unbiased as possible – and for journalists to be led to ‘stories that matter,’ and to report them fairly. Help those involved in it to know when they must take a stand for truth – and how best to do so.
- We pray you will keep people from leaping to false conclusions that can only reinforce prejudices and stoke anger.
- Pray for journalists to be led to ‘stories that matter,’ and to report them fairly.
- Pray for truth to be prized and sought out; for much that truly is of God to find its way into print and onto the airwaves, and to make its mark.
- We pray for those who love You to be influential in shaping the media world – and for them to be protected as they operate in that milieu.
- May all of us who read, hear and watch play our part by growing in our love for truth and beauty, and in the ability to reflect wisely and with discernment on the material set before us. Help us to recognise the slant from which this material is presented.
- Since so much depends on the insight and integrity of those responsible for monitoring and selecting news, as well as for those actually presenting it we pray for all that happens behind the scenes at Euronews, the BBC, Sky News and all media outlets, big and small alike.
- We pray for the endless decisions that are made on a daily basis in cutting rooms and editorial suites as to which items of news are to be included. Let much that is of you find its way into print and onto the airwaves.
- We pray that people who have been exposed to short term visual fixes and sound bites that leave a misleading or inadequate awareness of the true situation take the time and trouble to seek out the fuller story and fairer perspectives. By your mercy may they alight on such material as will enable them to explore these issues in fuller depth, and to set the record straight.
- Finally, Father, we pray for those who have been wounded by fake news and false reports to be set free from their damaging effects. In Jesus’ name, Amen.