I’ll Pray for You.
Really? Will you? Seriously?
I don’t meant to sound crass, but too many people utter these words and then never give them a second thought. The minute they leave their lips, they’re gone forever. This is not okay.
My grandmother used to tell me ALL the time, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” I’ve leaned on these wise words more than once…or twice in my lifetime!
My small group is doing a study on prayer by Philip Yancy. We’re only five weeks into it but it has already profoundly impacted not only how I view prayer, but also the goals I have for growing my relationship with Christ through prayer. Prayer is serious stuff.
Serious doesn’t imply prayer needs to be stiff and formal. There’s no obligation to follow a certain formula or pattern, nor are there demands to adhere to specific time frames or length.
What is serious, though, is spending time with God throughout each and every day. We can bring anything to him, from the most miniscule concerns to the biggest of the big. We can utter a few words or have a long conversation. We can dance around rejoicing with a praise or crawl to his feet broken and needy. God wants it all. Mr. Yancy calls this ‘Keeping company with God’. That phrase really paints a fitting visual, doesn’t it?
He also wants us to follow through on our offers. He expects us to.
When we tell someone we’ll pray for them, we often mean it at the moment. Most of us don’t go around intentionally offering prayer only to secretly withhold the blessing. Don’t you agree that malicious people would surely find a more overt way to inflict pain or carry out revenge? Of course they would! So it’s not about our hearts being in the wrong place, but our discipline and follow through that may need some adjustment.
Whomever we are speaking to has a need and our mere response offering to pray indicates it’s something begging to be brought to the throne of God. Don’t let your kindhearted gesture turn into nothing more than a lie. If you believe in prayer and have faith in its value, then falling short not only reflects negatively on your character, but also lets your friend or family member down…bigtime.
All of us have made offers that we genuinely intended to keep but have inadvertently forgotten. It happens to the best of us. In light of this, however, we must step up our responsibility and put checks in place to increase the ratio of success to failure.
If you offer to pray for someone, write it down immediately. It can be a note on your bathroom mirror, a post it on your desk or an entry in your prayer journal. Perhaps you have a white board on your refrigerator. Christian stores have ‘prayer bracelets’ and other gadgets where you can log specific requests to remind you of the offers you’ve made. It doesn’t matter what you use or how you write it down, just as long as it’s something you’ll see daily which prompts you to pray.
My husband has gotten into the habit of praying for someone the moment he feels called to do so. Nothing to write down or remember because he prays ‘real time’. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard him say, “Would you mind if I prayed for you?” It always makes me smile on the inside. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, if the Holy Spirit leads, he follows. We’ve been in church, at conferences, in stores…even in parking lots. To date he’s never had anyone refuse his offer, and many have responded with sincere gratitude and tears of appreciation.
Remember, the approach isn’t nearly as important as the follow through. Prayer makes a difference. God has blessed us with the opportunity to enter into a personal relationship with him through prayer. Our prayer life also gives us the honor of comforting and caring for other people.
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10)
It’s the privilege that we need to take seriously, not the method. The next time you say, “I’ll pray for you”, be certain you mean it!