It’s almost a Christian cliche: I’ll pray for you. It often comes dangerously close to becoming that throw away greeting, “How are you?” Do you really want to know how the other is? Probably not? Why are you offering to pray for someone else? The next time you offer to pray for someone ask yourself these four questions:
Are you praying because you feel awkward, uncomfortable or anxious in the moment?
Are you praying in order to escape the other person’s sorrow?
Are you distancing yourself from relationship with them by appealing to God to just fix them?
Or worse, are you trying to demonstrate that God heals through you, thereby making yourself the center of attention?
Prayer is communion with God and through the Holy Spirit with each other. When we use prayer as a crutch to avoid walking with and truly listening to the other, we cheapen it and drain prayer of its power. When we find ourselves and other Christians misusing prayer–may we be bold enough to say:
Please do not pray for me unless you are willing to walk with me.
Know me. Hear the depths of my fear or anguish or whatever it might be and let it affect you.
Then let us bring our (not just my) most profound needs vulnerably before God. Please do not try to escape that vulnerability. Because if you do, you have left me, and that is not prayer. It is not communion with God through Christ by the spirit.
And if you have no words, that is okay — more than okay, in fact. It’s an invitation to sit with me in the awfulness of my predicament and silently wait upon God together.