Praying for you… but am I really?

What do we mean when we tell people that we’re ‘praying for them’? Truthfully, what does that phrase describe? Do we mean that we’re devoting ourselves to interceding for them and their situation, regularly carving out time to spend before the Father on their behalf? Do we mean that we may add their name on to a long list of requests – if we remember – next time we quickly ‘send some up’? Or do we actually mean something else entirely?

In truth this can be a throwaway phrase; little more than a Christianised pleasantry. It becomes a religious version of ‘I’m sorry to hear that’; a way of communicating concern or care. Problem is, by reducing prayer to a kind but unfulfilled notion, we’re trivialising something really important; denying the incredible power contained within it.

Prayer changes things. God moves, when we pray. So I’m challenged that when I don’t pray when I said I would, I’m letting someone down; failing to help when all I needed to do was keep my word.

So when I tell someone I’m praying for them (or tweet them a quick #praying), I’m going to commit to seeing that a solemn promise. In Matthew 6 Jesus advises us to let our words be few, but some words are still needed. When we offer to keep someone in our prayers, let’s see that not as a way of encouraging them, but an opportunity for us to access the power of heaven.

4 responses to “Praying for you… but am I really?

  1. But isn’t it also true that knowing someone may be praying for you can be helpful in itself? That in some way, it can help us through the situation? I’m not saying that justifies the platitude of prayer but i think it adds another dimension to the discussion.

  2. It’s easy to say isn’t it? When I pray for someone on twitter I click on their photo or avatar and kind of pray over it, it may be a brief prayer but I’m hoping that’s better than nothing 🙂

  3. I wont say im praying for someone unless i know i really will. Or else offer a prayer of intercession and then say have prayed. Then i know im not letting them down or lying to God.

  4. Yes… I think you’re right, but I would add:
    Saying you’re going to pray for someone shows them two important things (assuming you’re not lying!). One is that you care about them, the other is that you believe that God cares about them. Both these things are good. (I’d therefore add the word ‘just’ to your last sentence: “…let’s see that not *just* as a way of encouraging them…”
    However, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you’ can mean anything along a broad spectrum in the same way that asking, ‘can I help’ can mean all manner of things. If you offer to pray for someone whose child is puking (as I did earlier this week) I reckon you’re offering to intercede on their behalf, but you’re not exactly putting on the full armour of God in anticipation of all-out spiritual warfare. On the other hand, if someone tells you of a problem that is altogether more grave, then perhaps the offer of prayer is far greater. You are offering to stand with them for a sustained period, bringing them and their needs to a loving heavenly father and perhaps also doing what you can to help them in their situation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s