If someone says they’ll pray for you, that’s a good thing…right?
I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in the South, that seemingly innocuous phrase could mean you’re in trouble. The Bible tells Christians not to engage in idle chatter about other people, aka gossip. That’s a real bummer, because for some reason, discussing another person for no constructive reason is very enjoyable, especially if that person is involved in an embarrassing situation or has engaged in some sort of scandalous behavior. How to overcome this moral dilemma? Enter prayer.
Sometimes, when people say they’ll pray for you, what they really mean is that they’ll call their friends and have a gritty, trashy, down and dirty discussion about your situation. They will rehash every detail and speculate on the horrible things you must have done to bring such tragedy upon yourself. Though their true motive is to build themselves up by tearing you down, they will convince themselves that the only reason they’re talking about you is to figure out how to “pray” for you. During this prayer-research session, they’ll throw in a “Bless her Heart” every once in awhile, and might say something like “I just pray he’ll come to his senses” to try to make it legit. But rarely does an actual prayer take place.
I think that most Christians would agree that these kinds of prayer/gossip sessions are wrong, and choose not to initiate them. But if someone starts gossiping to us, it’s much easier just to go along to avoid confrontation and keep the peace. We think we’ll let the other person do most of the talking, and convince ourselves we can forget about what was said. Plus, if we ask someone to stop gossiping, we virtually guarantee we’ll be that person’s next hot topic. And who would want that?
Despite the risk, I think Christians should be willing to Just Say No when it comes to participating in denigrating talk, especially under the guise of prayer. Gossip does nothing but cause dissension within a body of believers, and it destroys credibility with the outside world. And to call it prayer cheapens the awesome gift of individual communication with God. Personally, I have never been physically beaten, but I have been absolutely crushed by cruel words from other so-called Christians.
I am sure that someone who has read this blog is now thinking about who they can call to “pray” for me. Well, I give you official permission to say anything nasty about me you want – just don’t call it prayer.