When ‘thinking of you’ is not enough
The past few weeks of media coverage of the Queensland floods has been a fresh reminder of the challenges of living in a post-Christian society.
If the viewing public gave a dollar to a flood appeal for every time a politician or news anchor said to a victim that they were "thinking of you during this difficult time", then the amount of money raised would be significantly higher than it already is.
Why is it that people seem content to tell someone going through grief that they are "thinking of them"? Does the person going through the pain really feel better knowing that others think of them in their state of despair?
There was a time in our distant past that people used to say "we're praying for you", rather than "we're thinking of you". We knew that the prayers of those who cared would make a concrete impact on peoples' lives as those saints of old raised concerns with their heavenly Father.
Yet, today, we've not really come up with a satisfactory replacement in our post-Christian lexicon.
Some people opt for a compromise, saying "our thoughts and prayers are with you". This seems more palatable in our secular and pluralistic society. Yet, it is still unsatisfying.
In contrast, when a believer in Christ tells someone that they are "praying for them", then it is a powerful statement.
Not only does the prayer itself make a real difference, it also is a remarkable evangelistic opportunity.
I was speaking last week at a youth training event and was asked by someone in my workshop about a great strategy to make an impact in their school.
I told them that the energy in having a major lunchtime pre-evangelistic event would be better spent running a prayer meeting with school friends, and making the most of every opportunity to tell the teachers and students that they were praying for them.
The impact of having a believer bring prayers to their heavenly Father is an activity that reaps a double-reward. The prayers themselves bring concrete outcomes, and the announcement of those prayers to unbelievers is a bold demonstration and testimony to the love and care of the believers who graciously bring the requests of their friends, family and community to their heavenly Father.
If only we had more Christian politicians, journalists and everyday believers who would be brave enough to say "we're praying for you." Imagine the double impact!
Jodie McNeill is the Executive Director of Youthworks Outdoors.