I remember being unemployed, spending my days and nights looking for work, eating hot dogs and pre-packaged burritos. And, I remember times when I had no money…and times when I felt so broken that my heart pulled inside my chest. And, I remember times when people sought to destroy me because of my faith…and when I was in the midst of these troubles, there were many who told me- “I’ll pray for you-” and never meant it.
It would have been better if they had never said anything at all. For committing to pray for someone requires a conscious effort to set aside time to seek God. That, in itself, is admitting that you are willing to open yourself up to a heart inspection from the Divine. It is a terrible- and a beautiful- thing- to kneel in the presence of an Almighty God- terrible, because nothing is hidden from His eyes, and beautiful, because there are no words that come close to an encounter with the Holy. And it is in this crucible that the fire of prayer for one in trouble rises before the presence of the Creator.
That is, if one actually prays. Anyone can ramble off prayers, like reading soup labels on cans, but they go no higher than the ceiling. They mean nothing because they contain nothing, and represent what prayer is not. True prayer- to God- requires intimacy. It requires the one praying to recognize the real relationship between God and the seeker. We are seeking God and asking from God. We have to be on God’s terms. You cannot tell the one who made you what to do- that is laughable. We seek and ask, in relationship. When we ask in relationship, we seek in love. And that is what “I’ll pray for you” really should mean: “I’ll pray with God for you because I love you and want the best for you.”
So, the next time you are listening to someone pour out their heart to you, and asks you to pray for them, remember what you are really doing. And then, if you are ready to brave that experience, then and only then should you agree to pray for them. And as you continue praying for them, you might be surprised by the love stirring within you…because praying for someone is love in action.