I’ll pray for you. “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” Growing up these were perfectly courteous things to say in the wake of tragedy or difficulty. At some point, I realized I said these phrases a lot without actually praying, so I made it an effort to stop saying them. I’d rather pray and not tell, than not pray and say I did.
The phrase “thoughts and prayers” has been under a lot of scrutiny today. “Prayer doesn’t work!” a lot of people say. I disagree, but I feel the frustration. Especially when people have the ability to do something to prevent tragedy but instead offer a clichéd catchphrase. Of course I do that too. I posted #prayforparisa few weeks ago, #prayforiv a year ago.
Jesus himself recommended praying from a closet, instead of from street corners and stages. Perhaps because prayer was never meant to be a spectacle of empty words or PR statements, but something deep and sincere and intense. Some of the most powerful moments in prayer don’t lend themselves to words.
As somebody who prays, I’m learning that if we don’t take our own prayers seriously, we shouldn’t expect anyone else to. What if prayer and action weren’t two binary options? What if the best route to seeing the changes we want to see are the two put together? What if whenever we prayed over major tragedies and brokenness, a call to action was whispered in our hearts? What if whenever we tried to take action to pursue justice, we gave it our all and were driven to our knees at the end of each day? Thoughts and prayers. It can be an empty catchphrase, but they can also be real things when taken seriously enough. All my own experiences have led me to believe that prayer changes things. Most notably, me.