I have begun to notice how easy it is to actually have prayer hinder our efforts.
There are fewer phrases that are more powerful and affirming and all the other good stuff than “I’ll pray for you.”
But if we’re not careful, those words can be something we just rattle out to hide from the real situation. Sometimes, it’s easier to say “I’ll pray for you” rather than actually get our hands dirty and busy.
In Servolution, Dino Razzi writes about such a moment. A woman attended a prayer meeting and raised her hand and said, “My boyfriend just left me. I need to move out of our apartment tomorrow and I don’t have a truck or any help.” The person leading the group responded the way many of us would, “Well, we’ll pray for you.” Maybe some of us would even do the laying of the hands to ask God to help this young woman who is in need. But as they were praying a realization came to Dino: he can actually do something to make the prayer come to action. So he grabbed a few guys together, got a truck and just showed up at her door the next day to help her move.
As I sit here and type this, I have to admit, I’m more comfortable with the “I’ll pray for you” part than actually realizing that I may be part of God’s answer to the person’s prayer request.
If someone comes up to me and says, “My niece is in the (local) hospital and we don’t know what’s wrong. She’s been undergoing so many tests. Please pray for us.” I’ll admit to you, the first thing that comes to mind is, I should really pray for that family. I might even say a prayer for the person who requested the prayer at that moment. But how much more meaningful would it be to actually make a short stop to the hospital and say a quick prayer for the niece and family in person? (And not overextend our stay to the point it becomes weird).
A lot of times, when we unleash the power of prayer, we may actually be part of the power that we unleash. Did that make sense?
Prayer is absolutely important, but we have to be careful that we don’t use prayer as an excuse to keep us isolated from the world, community and the real needs of people. Much like faith, prayer requires action, too.