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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Done with "I will pray for you"

No need to call my parents, I'm not giving up on prayer and Christianity or prayers from other saints. But I am giving up on a proverbial thorn in the side in Christian conversation; that oft heard statement of Christians: I will pray for you. Perhaps you've even uttered it yourself? I know I have.

As someone who has been ill for some time, and been in a family with illness for an even longer span, Christians saying "I'll pray for you" is standard. I hear it frequently and I do not doubt I have heard it hundreds upon hundreds of times. By now, unless I know for a fact the person does indeed pray regularly, I confess to sometimes taking the comment lightly.

To some extent you may grapple with this skepticism as well. You may have experienced someone saying they will pray, yet as the weeks and months go by they never ask for updates and you seem to have left their mind entirely. Or perhaps you see this same person in the future and they utter those exact words once again "I'll pray for you." with no mention of the prayers that should have already happened. I'm sure those of us who have had pressing matters that require prayer have experienced these sorts of situations; in my experience this is not the exception, this is the unfortunate standard.

But if I put cynicism at well-meaning persons' words aside, I cannot, for forgetting to pray consistently, blame them beyond the weakness of their flesh. I face the burden of this phrase as well!

I too have told others I will pray for them; pray for them! Even in the saying of it I imply I will pray more than once--but if it was prayed for at all it was more than likely a quick flare prayer as I go to bed, or perhaps a haphazardly cast prayer between making tuna sandwiches at lunch because the M in mayonnaise  reminded me of the M in Mother, which reminded me of their mother's illness. Frankly, this does not in good conscience fulfill my statement of prayer support, yet this may be all they receive.

Leary of that pat phrase I've been left high and dry when I genuinely want to tell someone I will pray for them, yet know that my weakness in the flesh through illness or lack of spiritual discipline means that I will not likely remember to pray for them. I cannot in good conscience say I will remember with regularity to pray, and yet I do desire to bring them before our heavenly Father and voice a petition on their behalf and encourage them in the knowledge that I will do so.

Through reading a few books recently I have struck upon a solution to my problem, and perhaps, yours if you deal with this struggle too.

I will say a prayer for you.

Pulling from an older terminology of the Church, this change of phrase has freed me to pursue prayer as I remember a need, or simply pray once with a conscience secure in the knowledge that I have fulfilled my statement of prayer and come before God on their behalf. It removes the gamut of worry that I will forget to pray and the guilt that follows if prayer does not happen. Simple but sufficient, I have already starting making use of this phrase, and plan on doing so long into the future.

I imagine I'm not the only one who has struggled with the the frequently heard Christian platitude and I hope that perhaps my 'answer' imperfect as it is, will allow freedom from the guilt and angst surrounding the common Christian vow, "I will pray for you.", and act as a springboard frequent prayer and spontaneous I will say a prayer for you blessing to others.


everlastingscribe said...

What a cool way to balance the desire of the spirit with the limitations of the flesh!

Mine has always been to pray with the person IN THE MOMENT because I have the best of intentions but a mind like swiss cheese (sometimes it stinks and its always full of holes) and then tell them that 'as the Lord leads me, I will continue to pray for you'

:D I just chuck the WHOLE big'ole mess of remembering and praying BACK on Him. I like this way too!

Eagles Wings said...

Hm. I don't know. I think I'd disagree. Just because someone doesn't ask about it, doesn't mean they're not praying.

Precentor said...

I fear you have missed the point of the post, but you are free to disagree with my experiences.