A sympathetic 'hum' mulls through the church pews. From the pulpit, the pastor shares about a tragic event that has taken place, then finishes off with a, “Let’s keep them in our prayers,” and continues on to the next bulletin.
This probably sounds like a familiar scene that takes place on most Sunday mornings. That being said, there’s nothing necessarily wrong about this, it’s more so the empty promises that we often make.
We are moved to empathy for others trials and hardships, yet often we don’t know how to respond to others grief, so we simply pat them on the back and say, “I’ll be praying for you.
Watching the news causes our stomach to churn at the terrible events happening worldwide, or even next door. We switch the channel, taking comfort only in the fact that we can pray about these situations.
My question is, will you really?
Has this phrase, which should be said with the weight of making a commitment to someone, become a cliche or a cop-out? Have we forgotten the true power of prayer?
Think before you speak
I am absolutely not saying that telling someone you’ll be praying for them and then forgetting means you are filled with malicious intent. We’ve all done it, myself included (more times than I’d like to admit for that matter).
Which is why we should really consider carefully before we speak this over someone, and make sure that we hold ourselves accountable when we do.
Be sure to ask yourself if praying for this person or situation is something you legitimately have a desire to do, and if so, how you plan on accomplishing this.
I find keeping a prayer journal, or even just a notes document on your phone can serve as excellent reminders for following up on your commitment to someone.
Carve out a time, perhaps just a few minutes each day, or a longer period once a week. Really dedicate yourself to remembering them and standing in the gap for the situations at hand.
Even more importantly, if there is a specific person or family you have encouraged by ensuring your prayers to them- follow up!
Chances are, if people are going through a particularly hard time with something, they’ve had many people say a quick, “I’ll be praying for you!” or similar comments and regards on their Facebook page, yet rarely hear much else afterwards.
During your prayer time, ask the Lord for any words of encouragement He may have for them, write it down and give it to them - anonymous or otherwise. Taking the time to listen to what the Lord has to say can change the way you’re praying for the situation as well.
Better yet, pray for them right then and there if you can. Fight for them, remember the power of prayer and intercession.
The power of prayer
My point in all this is to say, follow through with your prayers. May it be for something horrific you’ve seen on the news, or perhaps a member of your church who you know is going through a particularly hard time, simply pray. Seek God out, hear what His heart is.
It’s so easy to forget the weight our prayers can have, they may often feel like just words tumbling out but I assure you, they really do make a difference. It has nothing to do with us, it’s not about the eloquence of our words or whether or not we’ve been followers of Christ for years on end. At the end of it all, pray for His will above all else.
Prayer is powerful, which is why it’s so mind-boggling that it’s become such a casual part of Christian culture - prayer without true promise or commitment to back it up.
Perhaps the next time you hear of some news that pulls on your heartstrings and moves you to prayer, you can say with confidence, “I’ll be praying for you.”
Miranda Bersaglio is a Canadian freelance writer. During her spare time, she can be found travelling the globe in search of a new story to tell.
Miranda Bersaglio’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/miranda-bersaglio.html