Have you ever prayed for a celebrity?
Only 5% of Americans typically pray for celebrities or those in the spotlight. That’s even less than government leaders who may get more votes than prayers, as they can count on the prayers of just 12% of their constituents.
I understand the initial aversion to praying for celebrities, as it brings to mind the type of mindless celebrity obsession so prevalent in our culture.
I’m also not advocating praying as if God needed celebrities. “If that actress or that musician became a Christian, then the gospel would really be unstoppable.” The gospel is unstoppable because of who initiated and guarantees it, not who may receive it.
God used a ragtag collection of mostly the uneducated and insignificant to essentially overthrow the Roman Empire. He didn’t use Caesars and senators, but rather fishermen and Pharisees.
Why I believe we should be praying for celebrities has nothing to do with obsession or influence, but rather our command to pray for all those who are fellow believers.
Their Pressures Should Motivate Our Prayers
Think of the intense pressures they face on a daily basis – to compromise their faith, to conquer every present temptation, to remain faithful in a life situation where most do not.
Despite so many in our culture’s willingness to do anything to have five seconds of internet fame, those who are truly famous often look back longingly at the time before they became so well-known. If you think fame (and the resulting money) buys happiness, think through the list of celebrities in recent years who have imploded, ended up in jail, or died from drugs or suicide.
Even for those in Christ, it is ridiculously difficult to live out a faithful life in a relentless spotlight. The fall comes so easy. Barnabas Piper, who has experienced life in the public eye to some extent as John Piper’s son, gives a wise warning.
Christians need to get less excited about Christians getting famous. It’s dangerous; a long fall from the high pedestal we put them on.
— Barnabas Piper (@BarnabasPiper) September 20, 2014
But as I replied to his tweet, I think the proper response is prayer for that person, along with what I did not mention, refraining from putting them on a pedestal.
Lecrae was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Sadie Robertson, part of the Duck Dynasty clan, is on Dancing With the Stars. Jessa Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting faced a media backlash for comparing abortion to the Holocaust.
These three aren’t more worthy of our prayers because they are more famous than other Christians. But neither are they any less in need of our prayers because of their fame.
Even “Christian fame” Comes With a Price
Last year, I wrote about how I decided I no longer wanted to be famous on social media. Knowing that 500 hundred people will retweet my latest theological observation would be intoxicating, but dreading the 100 that would do nothing but critique it would be poisonous.
As a Christian blogger who writes about cultural topics, tries to be funny, and would love to publish a book, I found it hard not to be jealous of all that Jon Acuff had achieved.
But the closer I got to other individuals who were well-known Christian leaders and writers and the more I saw the way people, ostensibly other Christians took it upon themselves to shred them online, I decided I didn’t want to be Jon, but I did want to pray for him.
While his thoughts may get 50 or 500 retweets and mine may get five (on a great day), I don’t have to tweet things like this.
Got some Christian hate mail today. I really wish that phrase was an oxymoron.
— Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) July 11, 2013
That’s not to say those who have a name among Christian circles are infallible. I would hope they would be the first to tell you they aren’t. But it is to say they face temptations and struggles you and I don’t face.
Obviously, I don’t want to equate having to deal with being famous with facing a government issuing death threats or leaving your home behind to flee from a terrorist group.
But I can tell you, Christian leaders face a barrage of angry tweets and spiteful Facebook comments. Social media love is unavoidably accompanied by social media hate – that must be shared in the most vitriolic manner possible.
So while most of the 5% of Americans praying for celebrities may be the same ones who watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians and actually care to keep up with them, I would hope some of those praying for celebrities are doing so because they see those who are brothers and sisters in Christ facing a difficult situation.
A Christian celebrity is not automatically a better Christian than you or I, but they are a Christian like us. And like us, they are in need of God’s grace and the prayers of His saints.
Despite the inaction of 88% of Americans, Christians are commanded to pray for government leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-3). And despite the inaction of 95% of Americans, Christians should pray for celebrities and every other believer facing challenging circumstances and clear temptations.