I’ll Be Praying for You. But…?

I’ll Be Praying for You

I said, “I’ll be praying for you.”

I meant it. I would be praying. My friend was in a tough situation. 

So why did my response bother her? Why didn’t it make her feel better? Wasn’t that what she needed?

Well, yes and no.

She did want God’s help. And she appreciated prayers. She had already been praying herself to God every day.

She knew God heard her cries. 

But her need now was answers to those prayers.

And one of those answers?

It was supposed to be me.

How Many Prayers Are Enough?

God doesn’t work by popular demand. One prayer is enough to get God’s attention.

Instead of passively waiting for more prayers to stack up on my friend’s behalf, God was already ready to move. 

How? One way was by prompting people—people like me—to get moving.

But we were too busy just praying.

Do we use prayer as a substitute for action? Do we think if we spend 10 minutes a day, maybe every day, maybe even 30 minutes on a good day (pat on the back!) talking to God about our friends, that we’ve done well?

Maybe prayer is only step 1. Maybe God is prompting us through our desire to pray (which is a good thing) to become an answer to the prayer as a step 2 and 3 and 104.

  • What if instead of praying, “God, please help my friend,” we prayed, “God, use me to help my friend.”
  • What if instead of praying, “God, I trust you to take care of this,” we prayed, “God, you trust me to take care of this with your help.”
  • What if instead of praying, “God, comfort my friend as only you can,” we prayed, “God, help me comfort my friend in the ways I can.”

Even Jesus, after praying in the wilderness by himself, would return to his friends, moving on to heal, listen, teach, love. 

Be an Answer to Prayer

If my friend that day had wanted to be blunt with me (but she didn’t want to hurt my feelings, so she wasn’t), she might have said:

“Don’t just talk to God about me. Talk to me too.

God already knows it all. We’ve been talking. I know God is on this.

I don’t need more prayers right now. I need you to be an answer to prayer.”

I get it now.

Instead of more prayers, my friend needed more people in answer to the prayers already prayed.

  • More listening ears.
  • More compassionate hearts.
  • More shoulders to cry on.

When God’s answer to the prayer is me, I don’t want to be too busy praying to respond.

I knew I still couldn’t change my friend’s situation and take away her pain.

  • But I could sit beside her in it. 
    “I’ll be praying for you, but I’ll also stay here with you.”
  • I could assure her she’d be seen and heard. 
    “I’ll be praying for you, but I’ll also be listening to you.”
  • I could say I’ll check on you again tomorrow.
    “I’ll be praying for you, but I’ll also talk to you again soon.”

Granted, we can’t take action like this for everybody we pray for. Sometimes offering a prayer is all we’re equipped to do. And that’s fine. Pray continually. Keep the line open for an ongoing conversation with God. 

But for the other times? In situations where we actually can help in a tangible way?

Instead of asking God to handle it all, let’s allow God to handle us as we reach out our hands.

God, use my prayer to change me so I can be an answer to prayer.


Share your thoughts in the comments.

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18 thoughts on “I’ll Be Praying for You. But…?

  1. Natalie

    I appreciate this so much, Lisa. You’ve got some great insight to consider and some practical examples of action. These are words that spur me to think and act differently–and that’s what we’re here for. Well done.

  2. blankJoanne Viola

    Lisa, may we pay attention to when the Lord moves us to do more. And may we be alert to those times the Lord moves us to pray, and pray more. We need to be agents of both prayer and action, and I so appreciate the reminder.

  3. blankLory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    I love this formulation: “God, use my prayer to change me so I can be an answer to prayer.” I don’t believe God needs my personal prayer in order to do things in the outer world. He needs it in order to gain access to my inner world and change ME — because he won’t violate my freedom in order to do that against my will. Somehow I keep getting it backwards though, wanting to remain the same while asking for things outside me to change. I needed this reminder, and will try to keep referring to it on a regular basis!

  4. blankAritha

    Dear Lisa,

    What a beautiful blog this is. I was touched by it. This is what I missed when we were really struggling as a family. Now I suddenly understand and I want to apply what you write in my life with others.

    It was an eye opener. Maybe we need a little courage and insight to start doing it this way. I’m sure I can’t do it perfectly. But God wants to help me with that. O and Lisa, I also enjoy your writing style. Refreshing.

  5. blankAnita Ojeda

    What a thought-provoking post, Lisa! The next time I’m ready to say, ‘I’ll be praying for you,’ I’ll take a moment longer and add, ‘is there anything specific I can do to help?’

  6. blankBarbara Harper

    This is kind of the spiritual or emotional equivalent of saying “Be warmed and filled” without doing anything to help. I tend to want to just pray about it because I don’t know what to do and because God can handle it better than I can. But He does work through people, and I need to be available and seek His guidance for ways He wants to use me.

  7. blankLesley

    This is a great insight, Lisa! I agree, praying for people is good but we do need to stay open to how God wants to use us to meet the need or even just to think about whether there is a way we can help practically in addition to prayer.

  8. blankLisa Blair

    A wonderful reminder to be sensitive to God about praying and acting. Sometimes He uses us and sometimes He uses others, but the reminder to be “alert” and “sensitive” to God and our family member or friend is greatly appreciated during this season.

  9. blankDonna

    Great post Lisa! Working with hurting people I have learned the value of prayer, but also that saying “I’ll be praying for you” can be the easy way out too. Love your suggestions at being more in tune with the pain of others and having a willingness to enter into that pain in a more concrete way.

  10. blankLois Flowers

    This is convicting, Lisa! I try not to tell people I’ll pray for them unless I actually plan to do so. What you’ve said digs down deeper, and makes me think about what else I can do, along with praying. As you said, sometimes prayer is enough, but not always.

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