“I’ll pray for you.”
How many times have you been struggling with a practical need and been given this response?
Before I get into this, I want to say, prayer is the most important thing we can do for someone. Breakthroughs come from God, from the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Miracles come through prayer.
With that said, I believe there are some problems with this being our sole response to people who are hurting or in need.
1. Empty words.
Sometimes we say “I’ll praying for you” because it’s a good thing to say. It’s the Christian thing to say. Where others might say “I’m sorry for your situation” or “I hope it gets better,” We Christians say “I’ll pray for you.”
The leader of our women’s prayer group at church has this rule. As soon as a prayer request is mentioned, we immediately stop and pray. It’s how she lives her life, because she realizes that without doing this, there is a very good possibility that we’ll forget or not get around to it.
Prayer is great, but we say “I’ll pray for you,” more often than we actually do it.
Put it in action: If you see someone struggling, hurting, or in need–stop what you’re doing and pray for them. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or eloquent, and maybe you’ll revisit it later and pray more in depth, but praying immediately ensures that you’ll honor your word.
2. It replaces practical help.
In James 2:14-17, we read this:
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? …If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
My husband and I used to do this funny skit, called the $50 skit. It’s about a college student who needs $50 to pay his electric bill. In the skit, he meets a series of people, each one a Christian who has been blessed with an extra $50. Thus begins a hilarious episode of each friend trying to help him get what he needs, using everything from “faith aerobics” to getting down on your belly to be “humble enough”, and “naming it and claiming it”. In the end, a final person walks up to him–after his faith has been beaten down, and says simply “I don’t know what you’re going through, but the Lord put it on my heart to give you this $50.” It’s funny, but powerful.
I was reminded of this skit recently when my friend shared a story about her 3 year old daughter. She had told her daughter at the store, “You can’t run away–I need you to help me.” To which her daughter replied: “Okay, I’ll just pray for you.”
This innocent, funny story pierced my heart with conviction. On the one hand–it’s evidence of her mother’s teaching that she thought of prayer first, and that’s awesome. But at the same time, how often do we do this?
How often do we say “I’ll pray for you,” when the practical help is within our power to give?
God works through people sometimes. You and me.
Put it in action: Do you know someone who is struggling right now? If so, think of a physical, practical thing that you can do for them in addition to praying. Can you make them a meal? Watch their children for a few hours? Give them a small gift to let them know you’re thinking of them? Send a Card? Or maybe just pick up the phone and call them.
Power of Prayer
I fully believe in the power and importance of prayer. There are so many times where we need God to step in because nothing else will help.
But maybe, sometimes, we should be a little more hands on. Yes, pray for others. But also offer practical, physical support.
Is there a time in your life when someone has offered you real, practical help?