"You are in my thoughts and prayers"
This sentiment and these words have become objects of disdain in some corners recently. In an era where everything is controversial, even prayer is taking a hit. Don't get me wrong, I understand. When something dreadful happens, those who are devastated by loss want discernible action. It seems like social media users typing that same old line over and over as a response to our pain is just not enough.
Studies have shown that church attendance is way down. You can Google it and get lots of reasons for this decline. But at the same time as we are sitting in the pews less frequently, there are more and more of us praying and meditating. In fact, a CDC survey said that the number may have tripled recently. 55% of Americans pray every day. With this in mind, perhaps prayer is an action which isn't so trivial after all. It might be more sincere, meaningful, and powerful than the redundant tweets appear. Let's not dismiss it so hastily.
I can't begin to calculate how many times people came to my offices for professional counseling and at some point asked me to pray with them or for them. Let me just say that It happened often. At first, this puzzled me. Folks were paying good money to receive my therapeutic wisdom and intervention only to turn the whole thing into a prayer circle. What bringing God into the session had anything to do with overcoming addiction or childhood abuse was a mystery to me. But I discovered including God in the conversation (prayer) was so comforting and healing that I never resisted or objected in any way.
German theologian Meister Eckhart said that If the only prayer you say in your life is “Thank You” that would suffice. And the 12 Step people say prayer is intended to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand him. What I get out of those two statements is that the shorthand of sending thoughts and prayers could be just what we need the most.
So, here is what I have to offer. Prayer is the basis of an ongoing conversation connecting us in the most intimate way imaginable. And it is so intimate because the dialogue invites and includes a power greater than ourselves. We are asking God to join in and listen. What could be better! Get a coffee. Let's talk.