There's this saying that gets said a lot. I'm never sure exactly how to take it because it often feels like a platitude. It's supposed to be said in appropriate situations but the follow-through is not a guarantee. And that stinks.
I was guilty of this years ago. If someone was going through something tough, I would tell them: "I'll pray for you!" or: "I'm praying for you!" And, admittedly, I'm not a prayer warrior, so I would rarely revisited that promise.
I got tired of being fake so I stopped saying that I would pray when I knew I wouldn't follow through. So instead, I told them I was sorry for them, or that the situation sucked, or some other thing that didn't require commitment. But that felt terrible too, so I decided I needed to do something about it.
So often, I think that when we say we will pray for someone, we think we need to speak in clear and concise sentences to God. As if He doesn't already know the situation and can't figure out what our dear one needs. I also think we feel like we should be in a solemn, quiet situation before we start and complete our prayer because that's the only way that God can hear us.
There's nothing wrong with either of those situations, but the truth is that we're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves when we tell someone we will pray for them, with the intention that we will find our most eloquent words in a serene setting. (Do you know how often eloquent words come out of my mouth and how frequently I find myself in a serene setting?! Never. Just never.)
And I don't think we need to be an incredible prayer warrior. I'm not and I no longer feel bad about it. Turns out that God has other gifts and uses for me and I'm cool with that.
But, with all my shortcomings in the prayer field, I think I've found a few things that seem to work for me and God. When I tell someone that I'm going to pray for them, I do it immediately. And then I do it when they randomly pop into my head throughout the day. And in some situations, I find myself in a semi-conversation with God all day long regarding a prayer request.
I'll pray when I'm driving, because it turns out that I CAN have a conversation with my eyes open. And sometimes the words that come out of my mouth are just words like: "peace," and "comfort," and "wisdom," because ultimately God already knows what is needed and if He can understand every language in this world, then I'm pretty sure He can understand the utterings of my heart, as simple as they might be. There have been times when I have told God: "I don't know what to say so: *siiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhh*" and He totally understands the heaviness and the heart behind that sigh.
Check this out:
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."
(See, that Holy Spirit has got our back!)
And then there are times when, even though it might seem awkward, I'll stop my friend who is struggling and pray right then and there for her! Imagine that: praying in the middle of Starbucks, or a parking lot, or in their living room. It might start out awkward, but by the end of my simple prayer, God usually takes the awkward out of it. He's good like that.
I don't know that I'll ever make it into Prayer Warriorshipdom.
But I can tell you this: If I tell you that I'll be praying for you, I will be praying for you.