(May 21st) In defense of (and the proper usage of) “thoughts and prayers”

Ours is a world of sin and suffering. Because of that, and because God’s people live in this world, we often find ourselves either suffering directly or indirectly as a result of this world’s wickedness. Suffering directly of course means we feel the direct effects of evil being done against us, but we also suffer indirectly when we see others hurting as a result of sin. When others are in pain we are in pain. When it happens you’ll often hear Christians encourage other Christians to keep the sufferer “in your prayers.”

Lately, however, the mantra of “you’re in my thoughts and prayers” has come under attack.

Non believers scoff at the idea, because to them it’s empty and hollow. To toss a warm, fuzzy thought up to an invisible man in the sky does nothing to solve a problem, they say. And of course they would think that since they are, as mentioned, non-believers.

But on behalf of believers, let me at least say that we do not believe in an inactive faith. We do not subscribe to empty prayer rhetoric. Our Bibles teach us that if we believe in a cause we should be willing to sacrifice for it, otherwise our belief in that cause is dead on arrival…

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

James 2:14-17

When I see someone hungry or cold and I say “be warmed and filled” without giving them food or covering, what have I done for them? Nothing. You can’t just say “hey buddy, thoughts and prayers coming your way!”

But, having said that, we have to recognize our own limitations. There are some problems too big for me. There are some things I simply can’t do. So what then? Should I do nothing? No. Should I do anything? No, that’s usually a terrible idea. We have the avenue of prayer, where we can take our problems—small or big—to the throne of God and turn our worries, anxieties, frustrations, and hopeless feelings over to Him. I may not be able to solve the problem, there may not be a solution in any practical, worldly, way; this is an evil world and evil will continue to abound as long as the world exists. But what I do know is that God is bigger than me.

So I will continue to mourn sin in the world and I will continue to think about it and pray about and do whatever I can to diminish it.

Because that’s all I can do.

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