Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Are You Guilty of a Prayer Violation?

Over the past three months I have had countless people tell me that they would be praying for me and my family. I'm sure it's always meant with good intentions, but it's become a "pet peeve" of mine. Are you guilty of a "prayer violation?"

Here's a scenario:

A friend of yours resigns from their job. Well, not really resigns, more like let go, but that's another story. Anyway, you hear about it and stop by to see how they are doing. After listening, small talk and such, you get ready to leave. What do you say next?

A. "It was good to see you. Let me know if there is anything else I can do."

B. "Sorry for what's happened. God always has a plan."

C. "I'm sure there is a reason for this. I'll be praying for you."

You probably fall into one of the categories above. It's kind of like a visitation; you feel compelled to see the family, but you're not sure what to say. But what really gets me is when someone chooses response C. BAM! They've just committed a "prayer violation." Why a violation? Let me explain.

So many of us throw out numerous religious terms, including the "I'll be praying for you" line. What they really mean is that they need to sound like they are connected to God (aka "I'm religious"), and besides, isn't that what Jesus would say? In reality, they probably won't give it another thought unless they happen to see you at WalMart. Even then, there is a 50/50 chance they won't know what to say next and they will turn and avoid you by going down the sugar and baking goods aisle.

My point in all this? Instead of talking the talk, change your tune and "walk the walk." Instead of saying that you'll be praying for them, DO IT! Stop what you are doing, put your arm around them and PRAY! That one moment in time will make a bigger impact than you "thinking" about doing it a million times. Turn your M.I.A. into F.I.A - Faith In Action. I guarantee you that no one will be upset when you take time to pray.

While it's important to keep others in your prayer thoughts, it's more important that they experience it first hand. Besides, God already knows they need the prayer.


Mel said...

I'm afraid I've been guilty of this in the past. Our experience over the last 3 months has shown me how hollow those words can be. My intent was always to really pray for someone, but I think the most impacting thing is to actually take the time to pray with them. I think it's something I've said sometimes to have something to say...when words seemed pretty inadequate. Hard to follow I know, but does that make sense?



Anonymous said...

Not everyone that says that is committing the violation. Some people really are praying for you.
Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous.........true enough BUT try having someone be in a desperate situation and sincerely go to someone for help.....and their answer to you is I will pray for you and the outcome is not good (which happens quite often)....it can be a cop out instead of honesty(a prayer violation has just been committed!)Sometimes we just need to listen and shut up if we aren't willing to walk beside that person and REALLY put action to our prayers instead of all talk. Also just a thought!

Anonymous said...

So is praying useless then?

Michael Goldsmith said...

Good discussion here...I love it!

Anonymous (1) - I agree that not everyone who says they will be praying for you cops out. There are many faithful prayer "warriors" out there that really mean what they say. Kudos to them. I was simply relating the typical "religious" trap that we probably all fall into at times.

Anonymous (2) - I also agree with you that sometimes just being there for a person WITHOUT words can sometimes be the best thing. Knowing you care is a great start. Faith without action is dead, right?

Anonymous (3) - Praying is definitely not useless! I have seen prayer work in my life (and others) MANY times and it is powerful. What a great way to communicate with God! For me, it's a conversation. I'm reading through Psalms right now and trying to read with the perspective of those folks conversing with God. It has shed a different light on those passages to be sure.

Let's keep the discussion going! Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous(1)here. I've been on both sides of this. I've been the one in crisis and I've also been the one trying to help. I know what I found helpful when I was in a crisis, but I've found that not everyone is the same. What is comforting for some, is uncomfortable for others. For those of us who have been on both sides of this, it leaves us scratching our heads wondering what we should do for someone else. We want to help, but often don't know how. People just need to be real and say something like "Man, I know you're going through such a difficult time. How can I help?" And the one in crisis needs to be honest and say "Ok, here's what I really need you to do...." And don't be afraid to be honest.

Anonymous said...

As for the Twitter question "Obama or McCain". I say McCain because he is pro-life. Obama is VERY pro-abortion and how does that not violate God's Word? Not to mention all of Obama's radicaly scary "friends". There's something to that "guilt by association" thing, I believe. Oh there are so many reasons not to vote for Obama.

bridger said...

I know I'm kind of behind on this entry by a month or two, but it is a great post. Look up the Steven Curtis Chapman song "Let us Pray" and you will find the same sentiment. Prayer always "works" because prayer is getting ourselves in line with God and His will not necessisarily trying to change God's will. The plan is perfect and the best prayer for me is "I want to be in line with your awesome plan so take over the part of me that you gave me control of and do what you want to do."