The news about the second wave of covid-19, and the rapidly rising numbers of positive cases, was all over India during the months of April and May. The social media messages were filled with sad emojis 😥and praying hands🙏🏼 during this time. Many people I knew were also affected by the virus and few of them even lost their lives due to it.
“Please remember my family friend in your prayers. He is Covid positive. He is in critical condition and is on oxygen support.” This was the message I received from one of my friends during the same time. I assured her of my prayers as I saw her message. “Sure! I will pray,” I replied instantly. While closing the chat tab, I whispered a prayer in my mind for him and went on to do the household work.
Later on, I didn’t remember praying for him or asking about his health until few days later, when the virus hit my own family. When I saw my husband struggle with severe cough during the night, and the way the virus was causing emotional and physical chaos to us, I realised the seriousness of covid-19.
During those most challenging moments, I wanted everyone I knew to pray for my husband. I was stressed! All I wanted was to see him healthy again. By God’s grace, there wasn’t any need for oxygen support for him, but the other health issues seemed hard for him. During this time, I could truly feel burdened and empathy for my friend’s friend. I felt for his family and thought about their emotional pain as I was going through mine. Their challenges were more intense than ours.
My friend kept updating me about his health. Each day doctors were losing their hope for him. It was heart-breaking to know that his 7-year-old son was waiting for his daddy to come back home. My thoughts went for his wife who might be crying day and night for him to be cured. I could picture the family and how hard the situation was for them. And I began to pray for them with a real burden on my heart.
But God had different plans. After battling for more than a month for his life in the hospital, my friend’s friend passed away. He couldn’t return to his home. He was gone, but this incident taught me a thought-provoking lesson about how easily we use the phrases “I will pray,” “Prayers assured” or, “I am praying for you.” But do we truly mean them? Do we pray with a deeper empathy for others? Do we truly feel their pain?
When someone shares a prayer request, we do assure them of our prayers and pray for them, but there are times when we don’t pray with a burden, or we have a very little understanding of the seriousness or the depth of their struggles, or maybe the prayer point just gets slipped through our minds in the busyness of life.
But, do you know? Those who ask you for your prayers really want a prayer support from you in their desperate moments of crisis. They want people to stand by them, and your prayer means a lot to them.
I remember sending prayer request to almost everyone I knew when my daughter was suffering from the severe form of childhood epilepsy at the age of 5 months. I googled all the prayer tower ministries I could and requested them to pray for her. I felt helpless. I was scared. I was broken beyond measure. I wanted prayer support from others. I somehow wanted to feel that I am not alone in this.
Prayer is a powerful tool, and faith-filled and meaningful prayers are needed for those who are suffering. Prayer is also a gift which we give to others when we intercede for them. Through our prayers, we carry their burdens and walk along with them. Thus, our prayers for others should always be genuine, heartfelt and intentional.
I think it’s okay not to assure others of our prayers if we don’t feel burdened to pray for them at that moment. We can always take time to first understand their crisis and feel for them. Then with a real burden on our hearts we can intercede for them.
Not promising our prayers won’t make us less of a Christian or less spiritual in that matter. But when we say that we will pray, we must make sure that we not only pray but pray wholeheartedly for the person. The prayer phrases will only sound religious and hollow if we don’t mean what we say.
Because, our prayers truly matter to someone in need, our prayers can uplift a burdened heart; our prayers can comfort a suffering soul, and our prayers can touch the heart of God.