July 22 (Reuters) – Facebook (FB.O) has long sought your attention. In recent weeks, it has started asking for your prayers as well 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, which it is speaking about in detail to media for the first time. Facebook sees worshippers as a vital community to drive engagement on the world’s largest social media platform. As early as 2017, CEO Mark Zuckerberg cited churches as one example 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…

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