I’ll Be Praying For You…

How many times have we said that phrase? People pour out their souls to us and that’s the best we can come up with in response. I know that I’ve said it multiple times. Have you ever come accross someone that you said that to and then realized that you could have been an answer to their prayer?

This whole thing comes from James 2:14-17. If you want to read it, at the bottom of this page there is a link to Biblegateway where you can type in the reference and it’ll bring up the verses in a new window. James is talking about our faith and living it out. I’m going to allow it to shoot from a different angle…try and get to where we are now and make it applicable to us today; our copping out of living out our faith by telling people that we’re praying for them. I know what you’re thinking and I also know that some of you will comment on how I’m reading this wrong. But bear with me for a moment.

We all pray for ourselves and sometimes for other people. Have you ever said that you’d pray for someone and then forgot to do it? I’ve done it. Here’s the reason why we forget: their needs are not all that important us.

Basically it all boils down to our lack of faith. No matter what we believe our actions should convey to others that we actually believe what we say. I say I believe in God, that He exists, and that He has a purpose for my life and yours. If I truly do believe in God then I’ll do what He says. I’ll proclaim what He says verbally and physically. God will have an impact on my life if I believe Him. That’s faith. Faith has to do with living out what we believe. James uses a very practical analogy that still sticks with us. In his day people would call out blessings to others. We do the same thing. They would ask for things to pray about. We do the same thing.

Now don’t get me wrong. Praying for people and their needs are very important and I’m not bashing that at all. The thing is that we really do cop out by telling people that we’ll pray for them. Half the time we don’t because we forget. We end up doing nothing at all. You’ve heard, “It’s the thought that counts.” Well that’s not true. It may be true to us, but not to the one who has the need. The only thing they can see is the need before them. The only thing we can see is the time they’re taking, so we tell them that we’ll pray for them. Some of us do remember to pray and some of us even pray with them right then and there. I’ll tell you from experience, if you say you’re going to pray for them do it now. Do it while they’re with you, now. Don’t let them leave without praying for them, now. That has a bigger impact than telling them that you’ll keep them in your prayers. The importance of immediate prayer with them can encourage them to see that we have faith that God will help them if we can’t. How blind can we be when someone tells us what is on their heart or stirring in their home and we can actually do something about it and don’t!

Another thing we’re basically doing when we tell others that we’ll simply pray for them is telling God that it’s His problem to deal with. We’re telling them that it’s a problem that they’ll have to take up with God. What kind of faith is that? Then we suddenly put ourselves in a position to allow God to be mocked, to give them opportunity to lose hope, to allow our faith to be trampled on. They will blame God! Their whole situation could be used as an opportunity for God to show them His power, an opportunity for Him to work in their lives. But even we end up mocking God when we don’t do anything when His power could be working through us! It’s blindness.

Here’s the deal; some of you probably heard me tell this story before about a homeless guy I met in St. Louis, Missouri. There was a large group of us out there for a Christian convention and we were on our way to lunch. The homeless man stopped us for a second asking for help. He didn’t have any food. Instead of taking him with us (and believe me, we had enough money to feed him the left half of the menu) we gave him a dollar and told him to “take care”…another one of those blessings we say half-heartedly without any meaning or sincerity but do it anyways because it’s a nice thing to do. It hurts me to think that that was an opportunity wasted. There are others that have happened in my life too. I bet you can think of something that you could do to help someone in need. You know someone you work with or go to school with or are even related to that has a need that you can meet. But instead of doing the right thing, meeting that need, we bring them up in prayer circles, tell them we’ll be praying for them, or tell them to “take care”.

It’s time for our faith to take action!! I’m convicted by this, people. If I can’t possibly do anything outside of copping out of meeting a need, then my faith is small. I think part of this active faith that should be living through us is being the answer to their prayers. And if I can’t do it myself I definately know someone who could help me. People don’t just come to us because we are the nearest person to them, they come to us because they believe we can help. Jesus did something during His ministry on earth: He met people’s needs. How can I claim to be a follower of Jesus if I don’t make it a point to do the same? Being human or having an interruption in my daily “priorities” is no excuse. And if meeting someone’s needs is interrupting my priorities then they’re screwed up. God calls us to reach out. How can we do that as beleivers?

The world all around us is suffering because of a lack of Christ in their lives. Our faith shouldn’t be something that simply puts everything at the feet of God and say, “Deal with it.” No, we need to take everything to God and ask Him for wisdom in how to deal with it. God is on our side. Our responsibility to them would be not only to pray but to meet the need. I believe this passage is intended to stir the passive believer, and it’s definately stirred me. What do you think?

What are your thoughts?