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.