By Ashley Hooker, Crosswalk.com
Have you ever been included in a prayer chain? The request is given in a long message with more detail than you really want to know. Then the responses happen. Your phone begins dinging with that usual message, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Or maybe you have a friend or family member who is sick, hurting, or grieving and those are the words you say.
This response is meant with good intent. Sometimes it is all we can come up with in the moment. It is not a bad response, but it has become a bit generic in the 21st century. With the rise of social media, it has become the praying hands emoji.
As we think about what we mean when we say my prayers are with you, we can understand the need for alternative options and why they can make a difference to someone.
What Do We Mean When We Say, “My Prayers Are with You?”
Humans have the ability to be compassionate and empathetic. God made us to be a people who are interconnected on so many levels. When someone is hurting, sick, or struggling, we can stand in the gap for them. We can pray for them.
When we say to a person, my prayers are with you, we are exercising the muscle of empathy, compassion, and love. Our goal is to ease one another’s burden because we are acknowledging that their crisis is real. Their pain is real. We are showing genuine concern for their well-being during their difficult times.
Christians use this response to display their faith in the healing power of God. We are sharing our belief in the power of prayer. It is a promise to that person that they are not alone.
Alternative Ways to Say My Prayers Are with You
If your desire is to find a deeper response than 'my prayers are with you,' consider the following options.
For a Friend
- No matter what, I am here for you
- My heart is breaking for you. I am truly sorry
- I may not have the ability to make this any better, but I will be there for you always.
- Remember you have my support and the love of all those around you. Be strong.
- You can lean on me.
For a Family Member
- We love you and will support you in this time of need.
- May God bring you peace and comfort in the coming days.
- I am sorry for your loss, and I am here to help you in any way.
- I understand how much you are hurting right now. Call me anytime. I want to help.
- We are all by your side. You are not alone.
For the Loss of a Parent
- Hold on to the memories of your mother/father as they will always comfort you in tough times.
- I pray the love of family and friends bring you peace and comfort in this time.
- Always remember how much you are loved.
- I can’t understand how you feel, but I promise to be there for you during these tough times.
- Your mother/father was an amazing person. I am devastated to hear of their passing. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything.
For the Loss of Spouse
- The love you two had was inspirational.
- I understand the next weeks and months may be a blur for you and your family. I am here if you need anything.
- It was an honor to know your husband/wife. They will be missed by many.
- My prayer is that all the wonderful memories you have of him/her will bring you peace and comfort.
- I don’t understand what you are feeling right now, but I love you and pray for your comfort during this hard time.
For a Coworker who has lost someone
- Sending my love.
- Even though there are no words to ease your pain, know that you are in our prayers.
- Please accept our deepest condolences from your work family.
- We are here for whatever you need. Please accept our heartfelt condolences.
- I heard of the passing of your friend/loved one. I will be praying for you during this time of grief.
Why Changing How We Say, “My Prayers Are with You” Can Make a Difference
Using the phrase my prayers are with you is not wrong. The problem is that it is often overused. It is an easy response that too often we say because we don’t have to think about it. This phrase has become generic, no longer holding any real meaning.
I am reminded of the story in Matthew 20:29-34 when two blind men receive their sight. As Jesus is leaving Jericho, there is a large crowd following him. Along the way, two blind men hear that Jesus is coming by and they begin to yell, have mercy on us. Jesus’ response is to ask them, what do you want me to do for you? Once they gave their specific request, Jesus restored their sight.
When we tell someone, our prayers are with them, what truly is our prayer. Are they just quick prayers that say Lord give them peace and comfort or are they a specific request that calls out their name? Are they a prayer asking God to show you how you can comfort and support them?
The above alternative responses have one thing in common. They are personal and honest. When we tell someone, we don’t understand how they feel, but we love them, it truly is comforting. When my mom died, people would send me cards with this exact response. I was always comforted because I knew they could not understand my pain and they acknowledged that. I knew they cared even though they had no understanding of what I was feeling. I was confident that I had people who were specifically praying for me.
In Matthew 5:4 Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” We have to ask ourselves how we can comfort others. When our words are all we have, we need to choose them wisely. We need to not be afraid to say we don’t have any words, or we don’t understand. Jesus acknowledged the grief we would feel. We must follow that example and acknowledge the grief others feel and use our words wisely.
Proverbs 16:24 states, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” When we choose to respond in an alternative way, it could change the way a person is feeling in that moment. It could be the time that changes the trajectory of their day. It says we truly care for them. We want to be there and stand in the gap when needed.
Our challenge should be to not give a quick response to someone who needs our prayers. We should be like Jesus in our response. Be intentional, personal, and honest. What if Jesus gave us life instructions similar to “my prayers are with you.” Then we would not know how to live for Him. Instead, we have specific instructions from God as to how we live and treat others. Let’s all strive to be that specific when we express our love, care, and concern for others.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Ashley Hooker is a freelance writer who spends her time homeschooling her two children, ministering alongside her husband as he pastors a rural church in West Virginia, and writing about her faith. Currently, she is a contributing author for Journey Christian magazine. She has taken part in mission trips with the NC Baptist Men during the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey in Mississippi and Texas. In her local church, she has served on various committees focusing in the area of evangelism along with traveling to West Virginia and Vermont to share the Gospel. Her dream is to spend her time writing and sharing the love of Christ with all she meets.