We’ve heard it said many times, usually in the aftermath of a tragedy. “You’re in my prayers”. I’m quite certain this saying has been around as long as prayer itself. The phrase is used by people to express concern, sympathy, and support to someone during a trying time or tragedy in life. With the advent of social media, we’ve seen this phrase scattered about social profiles after a school shooting, terrorist attack, or natural disaster. I too have posted this phrase on my Instagram feed, Facebook Page, and Twitter. I remember posting this phrase after the bombing in Manchester, England in 2017. I also posted something similar when Christians were slaughtered in Christchurch, New Zealand in March of this year. And I posted something about praying for the victims of the mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas in October of 2017.
Over the last few years I have experienced personal tragedy. My stepdad, great uncle, a close friend, and my grandfather all passed away within three years of each other. Three of them from Cancer. People reached out to me to assure me that I was in their prayers each time someone heard of my loss. It used to be that we would gladly receive such an extension of love and support. Even though we might not believe in prayer or God, we knew that the gesture was one of sympathy, and we welcomed it. However, things in our culture are beginning to change.
In recent months politicians, athletes, singers, and actors have begun rejecting the phrase. Some have even gone as far as to mock the phrase itself. They’ve taken what used to be viewed as a bedrock of support during a crisis and diminished it to a hollow motto. A motto that accomplishes nothing. A motto that is not genuine. They’ve expressed the need for action instead of prayer. Let me bring some clarification to why Christians express this sentiment.
Let me first state something up front. In the midst of a tragedy, action IS needed. It’s vital that we put out the fire when its raging towards someone’s home. The Bible supports this fundamental idea. James wrote, “So too, faith, if it does not have works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective]” (James 2:17 AMP). Therefore, I understand that some who have mocked the phrase are doing so out of frustration and anger at what they see as inaction. I understand and appreciate that position. I’m not trying to argue against action. Rather, as a Christian, and a minister of The Gospel of Jesus Christ, I’m arguing for continued prayer along with action. Let me share a few things on the power of prayer.
When a Bible believing Christian states that you will be in their thoughts and prayers, they mean it. Much happens behind the scenes when they share that phrase with you. Let me explain. The Bible says that, “The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]” (James 5:16 AMP). James reminds us that far more happens in the unseen world than in the seen world. When one prays to God, power is made available to that situation and those involved.
Tragedies still happen in this world. It’s a sad fact and the result of sin, the enemy, and evil people. But the prayer of a man or woman of faith can cause tragedies to be less severe than they might otherwise have been. These prayers are often the source of comfort and peace that people have felt in the midst of agonizing circumstances. And many tragedies have even been completely averted because of prayer.
Not only is power made available to the situation because of prayer, but specific prayers are heard and answered by a loving God. In 1 John chapter 5 we read, “Since we have this confidence, we can also have great boldness before him, for if we ask anything agreeable to his will, he will hear us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we also know that we have obtained the requests we ask of him” (1 John 5:14-15 TPT). Not only does prayer make power available, God hears our prayers and answers them. It’s the greatest act a believer can take when they express that they are going to pray for you. What they mean saying they’ll pray is that they are going to take time out of their day to personally and privately go before God, and they are going to ask something of Him on your behalf. They, believe that God hears them, that they have received what they have asked for you, and that the power needed in that tragedy will be made available to have an impact on you and the situation.
So, for those of you who believe in this phrase, don’t stop sharing it. For those of you who have hesitated, don’t hesitate. And for those of you who think this phrase is worthless or who don’t believe in God, rest assured, we’ll continue to keep you in our prayers. Because according to our faith, it’s the most loving and powerful thing that we can do.