Saturday, January 6, 2018

"In Our Thoughts and Prayers"

I’m sure you’ve noticed that every time someone has an accident or other unfortunate event in their lives, there will be some who will immediately tell them that they are in their “thoughts and prayers.” Whenever I hear someone say such a thing (often on TV or some other form of mass media), I can’t help but wonder if the person saying such a thing really understands what they’re saying. I know that this is usually offered as some sort of consolation to the one who is the victim of the mishap. But does the speaker understand what he or she is saying? More than likely they do not. All too often you will hear people say such things who, by the way they conduct themselves and the things they say on a daily basis, have no concern for the spiritual and who, dare I say it, probably do little if any praying.

It is perhaps a testimony to our nation’s spiritual heritage that even in an increasingly secular society, the spiritual dimension still has a strong hold on people. Since our country has been the beneficiary of individuals who established laws and other norms for society based on God’s law, we still carry in many ways the vestiges of such undertakings. Much as the secularist has tried, he has been unable to erase all traces of our spiritual heritage. It is true that the founders of our country were not all Christians. As a matter of fact, many were deists and others were outright unbelievers (take Thomas Payne as an example). But our country was established at a time when the overwhelming majority of men understood that there is a God and that He is someone we will have to give an account to. Thus, you see the many statements such as John Adams’ that “the constitution is made for a wholly religious and moral people; it is inadequate for any other.”
Prayer is a powerful thing. But it has to be undertaken with the knowledge of who exactly it is we’re praying to. We can’t simply pray to some unknown deity (as the Athenians of Paul’s day did) and think that somehow, some way our requests will be answered. Not only so, but the relationship that the individual has with God is critical in determining whether He will hear the prayer. “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ear is open unto their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). We cannot expect to live a life that is completely contrary to God’s will and expect Him to come running whenever we call. No doubt many who declare that we’re in their thoughts and prayers are sincere and even moral people. But sincerity and morality are not enough. If that were the only thing necessary, then just about everyone would be in right standing with God.
At this point I think it’s important for me emphasize that I’m not at all discouraging you from saying such a thing if you sincerely mean it and if you know that you have a true relationship to the Creator. But it is important to understand that mouthing the words without knowing what it is you’re saying will do more harm than good. If God does not hear your prayers because you’re not in a right relationship with Him, then it is misleading at best to tell others you’re praying for them. And therein lies the key to the whole affair. Ensure that you have committed yourself entirely to the Lord and then you’ll have the assurance that your prayers will be heard. And, if it hasn’t been clear to you by now, you must worship and serve the right God. The idea that “many paths” lead to God is as erroneous as it is dangerous. Take for example the LDS church (the latest president of the group died a few days ago). Although the LDS claim to know Christ and even have His name on their group’s official title, they know nothing of the true Christ of the Bible. Try as they might, God is not going to listen to their prayers since they are not believers in the only true God. Their god was a created man who eventually rose to godhood by obedience to the commands.
It is not my intention to be unkind. And perhaps some of you reading this will be among those who believe they have a true relationship to Christ, but do not. The Lord himself said “unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Bottom line, we must worship the right God in the right way. Otherwise our efforts will all be for naught. Since it is impossible for us to do enough good things to merit salvation, then we must depend on the Christ who died for us to cover us with His righteousness. The covering of Adam and Eve in the garden was the first picture of how God covers our sins. They were physically covered after disobeying God. We are spiritually covered when we come to Christ in repentant faith. Nothing else will do!




  1. If you live long enough, you will likely notice certain words and phrases pass in and out of frequent usage and acquire new shades of meaning. A few years ago my two grown daughters took to saying "awesome" all the time. If I called them and said I was feeling a little better I could expect to hear "awesome!" If I mentioned to them I'd opened a book picked up at a thrift store that had a $5.00 bill in it, I'd hear "awesome!" In fact anything that could be construed to be something short of disaster was (and is still) met with "awesome!" To his old man, who has used the word "awesome" sparingly in his life, "awesome" is to be reserved for things that are...well...genuinely awesome. It's overuse makes it hollow and virtually meaningless. Thus in a way is the phrase "our thoughts and prayers." A perfectly fine phrase in itself, the recent incessant use of it in public and otherwise non-religious forums has rendered it often shallow and trite. It has an airy sense to it generally, and is often ushered forth by men and women whom one suspects actually think with marked infrequency and truly pray even more rarely. It has mostly become a way to appear concerned without any true corresponding heart-felt concern.

    1. David, you are absolutely right. The "awesome" thing has become sort of the refrain of the age. It's like younger folks constantly interpolating "you know" into every sentence they pronounce. I would say that "in our thoughts and prayers" has become what one author recently termed "christianese." It sounds Christian and may even come from a pure intent, but it has lost its meaning. Sort of like telling someone "if you need anything, let me know." We may mean it, but the abuse of the term is such, that we usually just pass it off as courtesy and little more. Thanks.