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I have a friend on Facebook who, in almost all ways, is the complete opposite of me. He’s a liberal thinker, seems to be pro-choice, he pushes for free healthcare & free college, and he’s an atheist.
He’s open minded though, and we respect each other’s differences (even though we sometimes butt heads). One of his posts caught my eye though & has stayed with me for some time now.
He said the phrase “I’ll pray for you” was really sweet & respectful, because to him it means that person is asking for the highest power in his or her life to help someone else in need. But after that, another man responded differently. He said the same phrase had a completely different connotation to him.
To him, it meant that the Christian saying “I’m praying for you” was taking the easy route. That they didn’t like what was happening to the victim, but didn’t care enough to do anything about it other than say “I’ll pray for you” and then go home & forget all about the person. As compared to someone who doesn’t believe in a higher being, who would be more apt to say “what can I do to help?”.
Wow. That was a humbling moment as I looked at my phone & completely relived all the times I mindlessly said “I’ll pray for you“. Did I offer my cancerous friend of a friend a ride to treatment? No. Did I call my classmate who lost a loved one to give her emotional support? No. I just said a lazy “I’ll pray for you” and went on with my day. Now my close relatives and friends are a different story, with them I already know what needs to be done & either I or my family gets it done, be it cutting firewood, or feeding their livestock, or just preparing a meal for him or her. But as far as people who needed to be reached out to & may not have friends & family for help? I had completely let them & God down.
When Jesus heard that his friend Martha had a man named Lazarus who was terribly sick at her house, he didn’t tell Martha “I’ll pray for Lazarus“. Jesus went to Martha’s house to see what he could do for Lazarus. In this case, He had the power to bring Lazarus back from the dead. We may not be able to bring others back to life, but we can most certainly offer to help clean the houses of those sick, provide meals, drive them to a hospital, and give them good company while they need it.
So that leads me to my conclusion. It’s time we stop avoiding each other, and finally step up as Christians. No more “I’ll pray for you“. From now on, it’s an enthusiastic “what can I do for you?”. Who knows, you may just lead someone new to Christ.
Ps. It’s a wonderful idea to pray & for one another, and I think we should. It’s also okay to tell people you’ll be praying for them. But don’t let that be your easy ‘out’ when you could be changing lives.
What’s your take on praying? Fellow atheists, how do you feel about being told you’re being prayed for? How can Christians better serve by doing more than praying?
As always, thank you for reading!