“I’ll pray for you!”
There’s a lot of power in that sentence.
Sometimes it is comforting to have people praying for your health or relationship or job or overall success.
When I was in the hospital as a junior high student, both my church youth group and my class mates at school were sending me cards they had made and signed. They let me know that they were praying for my full recovery and that gave me a connection to others that helped sustain me through the difficult and frustrating times of recovery.
At other times in life, people have said “I’ll pray for you” as if I am deficient. This is still a statement of power but in a different manner. The simple declaration can imply, “I am in a better place spiritually than you. I am closer to God. I am praying that God will change you to become more like me.”
This second approach is actually an abuse of prayer. It wields prayer like a weapon. It is designed to orient the world to the self rather than to God.
Studies have shown that more and more people are getting fed up with the followers of Jesus looking at the world in this manner. While the first example can be moving even to people who don’t consider themselves religious, the latter turns people away from faith rather quickly.
Fortunately, United Methodists hold to prevenient grace. We believe that God is already active in all people’s lives whether they acknowledge it or not. This understanding leads us away from weaponized prayer. It also helps us to see that when we pray for others, we open ourselves to transformation as much if not more so than the individual for whom we are praying.
If you’ve joined a United Methodist congregation, you likely committed to upholding that congregation with your prayers. This (hopefully) doesn’t mean that you’re praying for the church to do a better job of meeting your needs! Rather, it means that we recognize that we are an important piece of the puzzle and if there is a need in the church, we might be led to see our own part in the solution.
If you’re in the Edmond area and religiously unaffiliated, we would love to have you join us for worship as we explore this topic on Sunday. If this doesn’t apply to you, you can worship with us online at your convenience! We will pray for you because we need it as much if not more so than you do.