When “Thoughts and Prayers” Don’t Work


You’ve seen all over social media, the internet and even heard it from friends and family. “You’re in my thoughts and prayers.” Some people take that to heart while others snark at the comment. But do thoughts and prayer really work?

If you are just saying the phrase then no it doesn’t work. You may mean well when you type or speak that phrase, but it quickly becomes another trained response to avoid a real conversation. Why do we say it if we’re not going to actually pray for that person? That is when it doesn’t make a difference at all. Thinking about someone is nice but when we say we’re going to pray – we need to drop to our knees that instant and do it. That’s when it works.

After several shootings many people became tired of the “thoughts and prayers” phrase. Even some people I work with saw it more as a passive way to overlook gun issues in the country. Like I said before – if we say it but don’t pray then nothing will change.  BUT when we pray – oh that’s when things change. Mountains move and we see the change even in ourselves.

I truly believe prayer is powerful. It has the ability to do so much for our country. God literally says it in the Bible.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Our country is crumbling at our feet because many of us (yes, even Christians) don’t feel the need to pray. They either don’t think it works or they don’t have the time. From experience I can tell you I’ve seen what prayer can do. I’ve seen lives change, including my own. I’ve seen miracles happen. I’ve seen people step away from their selfish lifestyle and give their whole heart to Christ. So why are people so surprised that God can do amazing things when we pray to Him? I honestly believe it’s because they’ve never seen prayers answered. That makes me a little sad.

No, God is not a Genie that grants our wishes. Our prayers are answered every time but the outcome might not always be what we expected. The fact that our loved one passed away from cancer instead of being healed. Or we were skipped over a promotion at work again. God is answering your prayers. But they are within His will for your life.

I ask you, the next time you say the phrase “thoughts and prayers” PLEASE pray before you say or type those words. Maybe specifically ask how can I pray for you. If you’re on the phone with them or even texting them – say a prayer with them. Type out the prayer. Whatever it is. Because in that moment the person will see that the phrase is no longer an empty promise but a reminder of how powerful prayer is. We need more of that in our country. We need people to be vulnerable and to pray over us when we’re hurting.

We are all called to pray. If you even have a relationship with God then prayer should be a major part of your life. If not, then that relationship needs to start. We must humble ourselves before the creator of this world and pray. You’re not too holy to be exempt from prayer. Nor are you too far from God to be heard. The very act of prayer will start to change the world. But most importantly change you.

I truly believe many issues of this world develop from a heart problem. Not physical but spiritual. We measure our motives, actions and conversations next to what the world accepts. But we were not made for this world. God created us for something greater. As humans we still struggle with sin but we don’t have to become it. I’m calling Christians out to take time and pray. Instead of saying the phrase – do the action.

Remember, “thoughts and prayers” WORK when WE do the work. After reading this, some may still believe they are empty words. That we can’t fight gun violence with thoughts and prayers. We can’t fight murders with thoughts and prayers. We can’t feed the hungry with thoughts and prayers. But I would say we can. When hearts heal from praying there is less gun violence. Marriages start to mend. Fathers stay and children grow up in a loving home. Parents begin to invest in their kids and teach them right and wrong. We start becoming givers instead of takers. We start seeing others and their needs instead of our own. That’s when the hungry get fed. That’s when “thoughts and prayers” prompt action not apathy.

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