UCTAA churchlight

Site Search via Google

Ask the Patriarch 241
Responding to "I'll pray for you"

from: a discussion board

To open a discussion on this article, please use the contact page to provide your comments.

The previous question leads me to something we risk hearing all year round, and that is the issue of prayer. The question was posed on a discussion board recently something like this.

My son is in hospital for an operation. What do I say to those who say to me "I'll pray for you"?

A related question is what to say to those who ask you to pray for them.

And finally, what do you say to those who say they will pray for you, not because you are in trouble, but because you are a non-believer?

The Patriarch replies:

First of all, let's deal with those who offer prayer for you because you have problems in your life.

By and large, people want to offer comfort and they do not know what to say. They are trying to say they care without getting all mushy about it. So, the basic proper response is "Thank you." As to the religious issue involved which may be bugging you, let it slide. It is not worth getting hot and bothered about when you have more important things to deal with.

You can also take "I'll pray for you" as an offer of help, if you know the person well enough to feel comfortable in asking. So continue the conversation "With all the time I'm spending at the hospital with little Billy, I'm letting some things slip. When you are shopping, could you pick up a few things for me."

That involves treating the person as a friend - not as someone who has intrusively thrust their religion in your face. And most of the time in these cases, recognize that's not what they intend. They are offering support.

The other side of this coin is a friend or acquaintance in trouble who says "Pray for me." I get this from my mother all the time. What do you say?

You know you are not going to pray for the person, and I don't think you have to lie about it. But you don't have to refuse either. You reply with something like "I'll keep you in my thoughts." Or, better, offer some real help: "Let me look after the kids tonight while you get some rest."

"Pray for me" is an outreach for support. Don't let it bug you. Offer support.

The time to get bugged is when someone offers to pray for you so that you will "come to Christ." This is intrusive and arrogant. And whether you let it irritate you or not is up to you.

One attitude to take is to essentially let it slide. If they are off praying for you, they are not standing there trying to convert you. So just ignore it if you can.

Or you can take the approach in Meditation 202. Suggest things that the person can pray for which, if granted, would make the world a better place.

Or if you are feeling combative, then take the "impossible prayer" approach. "Instead of praying for me, pray for Uncle Jimmy. He really could use a thumb to grow back to replace the one he lost in that bandsaw accident."