As I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed I notice a friend announce her mother is in the hospital. Another friend has just been in a car accident. My first thoughts are of sympathy and I can’t help but want to chime in with the other well-wishers and offer my support.
What can I do? How can I help? Reality check: I’m on Facebook, and they’re across the country. So, like many others I simply write, “I’m praying for you and your family.”
I used to be a terrible meddler, always inserting myself into other people’s personal lives in an attempt to “help” or “fix” their problems. Partly I truly wanted to help, partly I wanted to feel important.
When I was 20, my father died and I received countless business cards from well-meaning folks who’d say things like, “If you ever need anything, just give me a call.” …ya, right. SO not happening. Thanks, but no thanks. Unless you can bring my dad back from the grave, just put your card in the box with the others. Although these people weren’t “meddling” they weren’t helping either.
As an adult I now simply offer condolences where I can to show I care. Prayer is powerful, and it’s beautiful. When you pray intentionally and with conviction, beautiful things happen.
But how can we pray for someone who doesn’t know they need help?
How can we pray for someone who is blocking out the world and keeping their problems inside? How do we respond when we read a simple, “Pray for me” or “Prayers for my family please.”
Maybe something like:
“Dear God, please watch over the ______family.”
I don’t know about you, but I believe God is always watching over us, so asking for that seems redundant and empty.
Here are 3 things you can pray for someone (without meddling) no matter what is going on in their life:
1. Pray for Peace
Regardless of the trouble in our lives, peace in the middle of a torrential down pour can grace us with much needed clarity. When the world is going 100 mph in every direction and everything around us sounds like static television, peace is what we need. Praying for peace will put a warm blanket of calm over whoever we are praying for.
2. Pray for Wisdom
Troublesome times bring endless doubts and questions. We often find ourselves asking, “Why did this happen?” “God, give me the answers I need.” Wisdom is defined as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Many times all we are seeking is direction. What should I do? How do I cope? Endless questions. Sometimes the answers just aren’t there. Wisdom offers answers such as “Just wait.” “Have faith.” “Persevere.” Wisdom comes from God. God offered Solomon anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisom.
2 Chronicles 1:11: “God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth,possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. “
3. Pray for Patience
Waiting for answers is tough. Waiting for anything is tough. In today’s culture of instant gratification, 4G smartphones, Free Wi-Fi, and social media, waiting is not something we practice. Sometimes, the only answer we get is to wait (which can feel like no answer at all.) Other times, we don’t like the answer we get, and we need patience so we don’t get frustrated.
One other thing: Don’t say you’re gonna pray for someone if you are just trying to sound supportive. If you promise to pray for someone, write it in a prayer journal, or write down a reminder on your night stand. No empty prayer promises. We’ve all promised well wishes or prayers to someone without following through. Let’s pray intentionally for others, or don’t promise at all.