“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16)
It is a great blessing when we go through any kind of adversity or trial that our brothers and sisters in the faith are praying for us. When a Christian says “my prayers are with you” they are letting you know that they recognize that God has the power to intercede on your behalf. They are communicating to you that you should trust God to do so. They are also demonstrating faith that God will honor His promises to hear our prayers. There is tremendous power in prayer. By praying we are appealing to the sovereign power of God to do what we recognize we cannot do.
Lately, however, I have noticed that many people these days are saying things like “my thoughts are with you” or “sending good thoughts your way”. This is one of those areas where there is a huge gap between those who have a relationship with the living God and those who do not. While I recognize that it is a polite and thoughtful thing to tell someone that you are thinking of them it does absolutely nothing to address the underlying issue. It is simply a recognition that someone feels bad that you are dealing with some kind of trial. The thoughts of others cannot change our circumstances nor can they give us the strength to endure them beyond what was already within our psychological capacity. The believer on the other hand has access to the phenomenal power of God who can either resolve the issue or provide the strength for us to grow from it.
For His own reasons God does not always heal us or deliver us from particular circumstances but He always has the power to do so. When I am going through adversity I do not want acknowledgement from others who are just as helpless as I am. I want to know that my brothers and sisters are interceding with my Father, King, and Savior who has already demonstrated His love and care for me. As a believer, if I must suffer, I do so in the knowledge that my suffering has a purpose and is itself accompanied by the benevolent guidance of God. What a privilege that is. The unbeliever is sadly without that hope. The thoughts of people, good or not, cannot change that.
Every time I hear about a person suffering some tribulation and I then hear someone say that “their thoughts are with them” I am reminded of Paul’s words in Ephesians.
“…remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the
and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12) commonwealth of Israel
I then thank God that He has saved me. If you are a Christian consider using these opportunities as a way to share the hope that is within you. Tell people that you are praying for them (make sure you do it if you say you will). Some may not think it will do any good and others may even ask you not to. Most people, however, genuinely appreciate it and I have found it often opens the door for further discussion about faith down the road. Even if it doesn’t, it is an expression of your own faith.