Everyone wants some advice on how to help people who are sick and suffering.
In his article, You Look Great and Other Lies, Bruce Feiler offers some pretty good advice on things to say. He also offers a few NOT to say, like “everything will be ok” or “you look great.”
But one of the phrases he suggested people avoid made my heart sick:
MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU. In my experience, some people think about you, which is nice. Others pray for you, which is equally comforting. But the majority of people who say they’re sending “thoughts and prayers” are just falling back on a mindless cliché. It’s time to retire this hackneyed expression to the final resting place of platitudes, alongside “I’m stepping down to spend more time with my family,” or “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Attaching the words ‘prayer’ and ‘mindless cliche’ just hurts. He is probably right that most people should avoid that statement because they either have no intention of following through or they have no thought that prayer actually means anything.
Let us not be those kind of people! If we say we will pray, let us pray, and do so with expectation.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16b
And when people say their ‘thoughts and prayers’ are with us, let us accept it enthusiastically, thanking them for going before the Father and Creator of all things, with joy that they love us this much! If they said it mindlessly or carelessly, may God use our excitement at prayer to shake them up and reconsider the power available to all who cling to Jesus – we can come to the throne of God himself, boldly!