We tend to think of the phrase, “I’m praying for you,” as either a throwaway phrase, of sorts, or a last ditch kind of effort.
In other words, when someone is having a hard time and we don’t know what else to say, we say, “Well…I’m praying for you.” Or, when things seem really bad and beyond all human efforts, we say something like, “All we can do now is pray.”
The problem is that in both of these situations, we are massively underestimating the power of prayer. We are treating prayer as if it’s rather anemic and pathetic, unable to accomplish much, unable to have any effect on real circumstances.
But here’s the reality…
When we say, “I’m praying for you,” we are saying something that has the potential to radically change everything.
I’m Praying For You: The Action That Makes All The Difference
On the subject of prayer, Charles Spurgeon said:
My own soul’s conviction is that prayer is the grandest power in the entire universe, that it has a more omnipotent force than electricity, attraction, gravitation, or any other of those other secret forces which men have called by name, but which they do not understand
Think with me, for just a moment, about all that happens when we pray for others.
When we pray for someone, we are asking the God of the universe to take action. He is the one who has all power, who rules over all things, who causes nations to rise and fall, who controls the seasons, and keeps the planets in order.
God can change any circumstance in an instant. He is not limited by time or space. The laws of nature do not apply to him. Even though a circumstance may be beyond our ability, nothing is too hard for God.
When we say, “I’m praying for you,” what we’re really saying, “I will ask the God of the universe to do something absolutely staggering on your behalf.”
We’re saying, “I’m going to invite God to intervene in this situation in a way that we would never expect.”
E.M. Bounds, who wrote extensively on prayer, said:
Few Christians have anything but a vague idea of the power of prayer; fewer still have any experience of that power. The Church seems almost wholly unaware of the power God puts into her hand; this spiritual carte blanche on the infinite resources of God’s wisdom and power is rarely, if ever, used—never used to the full measure of honouring God.
Did you catch that? We have just the vaguest idea of the power of prayer. This is why we treat the phrase, “I’m praying with you,” as being of little value.
It’s because we underestimate the staggering, overwhelming, life-giving things that God does in response to prayer.
God Responds Mightily To Prayer
There would be little use in praying if God didn’t respond to our prayers. But the amazing truth is that God really, truly, powerfully acts when we pray to him.
In James 5:16-18, we read:
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
This verse should absolutely take our breath away and should give new meaning to the phrase, “I’m praying for you.”
James is saying that Elijah wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t like his prayers were more powerful than our prayers. And yet when he prayed, God caused it not to rain for a whopping three years. And when he prayed a second time, God caused the heavens to open and the rain to come down in torrential sheets.
Do you believe that your prayers are that powerful? Do you believe that when you pray, the living God hears your prayer and takes powerful action on your behalf? Because that truly is what happens when we pray for others.
In Matthew 7:6-8 Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Ponder these words for a moment. Notice that Jesus doesn’t qualify them. He doesn’t say, “If you ask the right thing at the right time with all the right motives, then your prayer will be answered.”
He simply tells us to ask. To bring our petitions to God. To plead with God.
When we do this, the results are absolutely amazing. Everyone who asks receives. Again, Jesus doesn’t qualify this phrase. He tells us that when we earnestly pray to God, we will see God move.
Doesn’t this truth breathe life into the phrase, “I’m praying for you,”?
It’s not a throwaway phrase. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say that there is NOTHING more meaningful that we can do for a person than pray for them. Yes, we should care for people, bear their burdens, and seek to serve them in any way that we can.
But more than anything, we should pray for them.
Because when we pray the prayer of faith, stuff really happens. The living God gets involved, and when he’s involved, you never know what sorts of amazing, mind-blowing things are going to happen.
Tim Keller says, “Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us.“
Do you want God to do unimaginable, unbelievable things in your life? I certainly do.
How does that happen? Through prayer.
The implication of all this is that we should say the phrase, “I’m praying for you,” EVEN more. It should be the first thing we say when someone tells us that we’re struggling.
Our first impulse when we hear about a challenging situation should always be to come before the throne of grace and ask God to intervene in mighty ways.