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Don’t Say You’ll Pray For Me

January 31, 2014

I’ve been convicted about empty statements. These are things I say to make a conversation a little more comfortable in the moment. But do I really mean what I’m saying?

Or empty statements can be little promises I allude to that give a needed lift to someone. But without a plan to actually keep that promise, do I really intend to keep it?

It’s not that these statements are wrong or bad or ill-intentioned. But they are empty at best and potentially hurtful at worst. People in my life deserve better than that.

I want to be a woman who exemplifies God’s Word by keeping my word.

Don't Say You'll Pray For Me

The Bible is clear that our words matter. Our words carry weight. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Our words can be gifts.

But if we say things that have no follow-through, it can be hurtful. It’s like holding out a gift but refusing to give it.

Here are three of those empty statements I want to stop saying if I don’t have a plan for follow-through:

1. I’m praying for you.

Obviously, I do want to pray for people. And sometimes when I say this, I really have great follow-through. But sometimes I forget.

A great intention doesn’t make for a great prayer.

So, I need to pray for that person right then and there or I need to keep a journal in my purse to write down prayer requests.

2. Let’s get together sometime.

Either I need to pull out my calendar and schedule time with someone or be honest about my current time constraints. The people-pleaser in me struggles with this.

But I know when people say this to me without any follow-through, it hurts. While I can’t change it being done to me, I can make a heart policy that I won’t do this to others.

3. I’m good, how are you?

Understandably, sometimes this is the right, polite statement to say when I’m just quickly greeting someone. But I will also say this to others with whom I really should be more open and honest.

I can be reluctant sometimes to even let close friends in to the needs I have bubbling below my “I’m good” statements.

If I will be more brave with opening up, it will give my friends permission to do the same.

So, there they are. My empty statements and my convictions to do a better job of saying what I mean and meaning what I say.

What about you? Do any of these resonate with you? Is there one you want to commit to working on this weekend? Let’s chat about this in the comments below.

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97 Comments
  1. Kristi

    A very powerful thing I found was instead of simply offering to pray for someone, write down that prayer and share it with them.

    Reply
    • Nico Smith

      I ♥ it how my husband and I enjoy praying for one another- no matter what the problem may be that one of us is facing in our life. Naturally, we all need prayer, whether we ma…y realize it or not. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
      Our words of encouragement are like a refrehing breath of air in someone else’s life. Nonetheless, we could use helpful advice whenever we’re going through difficult times throughout a tough moment in our lives.
      Sometimes, I’ll tell a friend that “I’m good” when things aren’t going well for me in my life. Promising to get together with a good friend usually ends up falling through if someone else has already asked me to help them out. Nevertheless, I make time to help others out, no matter what’s going on.
      My hubby and I make time, no matter what we may be doing, to assist friends with technology issues whenever they may be having problems with their computer. Nothing would make us happier than to help others in their time of great need.See More

      Reply
  2. Lina Hill

    I am totally on board with #1 as I was very convicted of this last year… I always mean it when I say I will pray for someone and for a long time I actually thought I was doing it… Odd, I know. But I was finally convicted that saying “I am praying for you” was NOT a prayer and that I needed to stop and pray right then and there because I am the absent minded Christian!! I actually forget I have an all empowering God… I realized I was doing it all over the place included my own prayers that were only thoughts about praying. Sheesh!! So, ever thankful for that insight, I now stop and pray when I say it or write it on my ever present sticky notes, because I am really that distracted and forgetful.
    Thanks Lysa for pointing these all out again!!

    Best, Lina

    Reply
  3. Alicia

    I used to find myself saying “I’ll pray for you” a lot without every following through. Now that I have fully accepted Jesus Christ and now feel the Holy Spirit working in me, it’s so normal for me to break at the given moment and simply pray in Jesus’name for that particular situation. It’s freeing and feels good.

    Reply
  4. Judy

    LOL – I just had a friend text me to pray about something that was happening in her life today that was out of the ordinary. I quickly sent back “praying” in a text to her. Then I realized if I didn’t stop what I was doing right then and there, I would forget to pray for her. So I stopped and prayed for her situation and asked God to remind me to pray for her later today as well. Ten minutes later I read Lysa’s blog and laughed out. I’m pretty good about remembering to pray for people – I’m bad about following up to get together with them. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  5. JenT

    Are you sure you’re not writing this about me?! I am a people pleaser and I always feel so guilty for not keeping in touch or spending time with people I care about. I always say “let’s get together sometime!” It’s almost like I’m biding time before I actually have to make the effort. At that point, It’s been too long and I’m “scared” to see or talk to that person. A vicious cycle. When it comes to prayer requests from friends or family, I immediately say/text “I’m praying for you,” “praying for peace and comfort”….. I’m trying to make myself pray as soon as I say it. Thanks Lysa, as always, you put into words what I feel on the inside.

    Reply
  6. Christina

    Wow! I understand with “I am praying for you”. Sometimes, I remember and pray right then and there. Other times, I say it and forget. I need to do a better job with that.

    Reply
  7. nylse

    If I say I’m praying for you – I literally stop what I’m doing at that moment and pray for them. If I don’t do that then, I won’t remember and since I don’t say this lightly I follow through in this way.

    As I’ve gotten older, I try to be a person of my word and minimize empty phrases.

    Reply
  8. Becky Rodd

    All of them, for sure! I’m the people pleasing queen! I have a friend that stops you and says let’s pray about it now. I love that and need to up my game and do this. But I also like the idea of taking my phone out and saying “ok, one second, if I don’t make a reminder note I will forget.” I may feel weird but if I were the one needing prayer I would feel great that the other person was taking the time to make note and actually intended to pray for me.

    I had twins at 27 weeks and almost lost them. The one thing that brought me encouragement when I needed someone to stand in the gap for me was the thought that so many of God’s kids were lifting our boys up to him. They are now almost 7 years old and thriving! People do need and covet our prayers!

    Reply
  9. Jen

    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability, Lysa. You give my soul permission to be honest and vulnerable, and embrace growth and grace.
    EVERYTHING you say always speaks to my heart.
    thank you thank you thank you!

    Reply
  10. Angie

    I love this, Lysa. I find myself being very aware of this because I want to be able to be counted on for my word! I love that you put this all into words for us. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  11. Christine Marie

    I really struggle with #3. It’s very difficult for me to share things with anyone, other than my husband and my mom. I know that probably sounds really strange. There are some women friends that I do feel comfortable with and have reached out to, but for various reasons they don’t reciprocate and then I wind up feeling awkward. Then there are some women friends that I really enjoy being around but seriously, I never get a word in. By the end of the time I’ve shared with them I usually come away feeling overwhelmed by everything they are struggling with that I can’t even begin to share what I’m dealing with. So I for the past couple of years I have stayed really quiet because I feel like I must be the one with the problem.

    Reply
    • Judy

      I am so sorry you feel this way! I know how hard it must be for you. I have felt that same way before, and still do sometimes. I encourage you to find just one friend who you can share things with. It may take a while for you to feel comfortable enough or trusting enough to open up with, but at some point you will find that moment. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I like to read it “confess your needs, desires, hopes, sins…”, anything that you need help with because sometimes we just need a listening ear. In that way we can bring healing to our hearts, spirits, minds as well as our bodies.

      Reply
  12. Diane M

    Oh how I agree! I’ve often felt convicted when I said I would pray for someone (and forgot), only to have them come back and say “thank you for your prayers, God did… (fill in the blank).” Ugh. So now, if I say it, I pray IMMEDIATELY. Right then. If the Spirit brings it to mind later, I pray again. But no matter what, I’ve prayed and been true to my word to that person.

    Reply
  13. Jen F.

    Years ago I was convicted about saying “I’ll pray for you” and then not doing it. Now, I don’t say it, unless I plan to do it, and that usually means stopping what I’m doing and praying right then and there. I’ve recently been texting/messaging prayers to my friends – I think it’s powerful. I want to get more comfortable praying for someone in person – right then. I don’t usually think to do that, but when it’s been done for me, I have been incredibly blessed.

    Reply
  14. Charity

    I have read before that if you tell someone you are praying for them or are going to pray for them then just stop right then and do it so that those aren’t empty words and I try to do that now when I say that to someone. However, I am bad about the second – “let’s get together” and then never following through 🙁 Need to work on that.

    I also love the people that just offer to pray with you right then! I am trying to be better about this too – it is still hard for me to pray with other people (I am a shy person!) but I don’t want it to be that way, I want to be the kind of person that will pray with anyone anywhere for any reason.

    Reply
  15. Kate

    I loved this post. Whenever someone asks me to pray for them,I stop and lift them up in prayer right then or I may forget. Ive started keeping a prayer journal but I’ve learned it’s easier to keep it in a nitebook in my purse instead of an app. Sometimes, the old methods work better for me.
    I generally disregard any statements about getting together “sometime” and try not to say them myself. If I want to spend time with that person, I make a suggestion of a time, place and/or activity.
    As for I’m fine, how are you? That’s a very hard one for me. I lost my 22 year old son in August 2012. I learned very quickly that most people do NOT want to hear how I’m really doing. I’ve also learned that the ones who do will look me in the eye or put their hand on mine, or on my shoulder, and ask again how are you really doing? It is very hard for people to accept the grief of another person, especially if it involves child loss. It’s too intense. It’s too frightening because they must then, for a moment, realize that such things can and do happen to us.

    I enjoy your blog and get great inspiration from it. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Reply
    • traci stotler

      Kate, I am so sorry for you loss. I too lost a son. I agree that people ask “how are you?” but really don’t want to hear your answer if it is not “i am ok”. It is an awkward position for both of the people. I am going to pray for you right now. The anniversary date of my son’s death is this Monday and when I read your comment I felt the holy spirit telling me to respond to you.

      I will right your name down so that I can pray for you in August when those darn dates seem to make grief worse. Much love to you Kate.

      Reply
  16. Jen

    When I am encouraging someone via cyberspace, I will write the prayer out in the email. So I’m saying it, writing it,and the recipient is reading it – so it’s like we are praying together.

    Reply
    • Kelly

      I love this idea!

      Reply
      • deb b

        Great idea. Whether its texting, e-mail, in a store isle or on the phone!!

        Reply
  17. Judy

    Praying for someone brings us closer together, but empty words drive a wedge between us. Sometimes it easier than other times to pray for someone. The “I’m good” statement is the hardest for me. Sometimes I don’t want you to know how I really am, nor do I want to know how you are. When we really care about someone we will probe a little or we will ask the question in another way. We treat this as a greeting and flippantly answer; like a waving of the hand. Much to work on, much to work on! Thank you for your honesty! So refreshing from someone as busy as you are!

    Reply
  18. Rhonda

    “Praying for you”….i am guilty of replying “praying for you” when a friend request prayers for whatever they are going through good or bad times….i have a friend i ask for prayers and her reply is always followed with an “actual prayer”….and i love her for that so i need to do the same and reply to my friends prayer requests with a prayer! “Lets get together sometime” i am guilty again of not following through…..i definitely need to stop talking and start doing(keeping my word) and following through!!

    Reply
  19. Latosha

    I like how you follow through with praying for someone at that time. I like to do this as well. The one challenge that I have is praying in written form. I know with my background in growing up in church, it just wasn’t done at the time, but I see even in my local church fellowship, that one of the elders or women will open up or lead prayer with a written script. I realize today’s blog isn’t about methods in praying, but that is what is on my heart whenever the topic of prayer comes to mind. Thank you Lysa, and to all who responded, because you gave me something to truly think and “pray” about. Blessings! 🙂

    Reply
  20. c

    I have a friend who I see frequently who is constantly asking for prayer. About every little thing she comes across. I want to pray for her, and I do, it sometimes feels though like she should be praying herself for those things. I feel bad because I say “okay”, and then sometimes forget. Should I just keep saying okay? And try to? Or am I being weird?
    Also, I feel like I’m being self righteous if I write my prayer out, particularly on social media. So I will say I’m praying and maybe what I’m praying for, and then follow through. What do you think? Do I have too many rules for myself?

    Reply
    • Melinda

      Praying out loud in the moment is the best thing we can do. The enemy should here us in authority cast him out. It’s not self righteous. If we’re walking in spirit and in truth we have authority. God listens to the prayers of the righteous and the enemy has no power when you speak life. And maybe an enthusiastic prayer over your friend’s small issue may keep her from asking again (lol).

      Reply
  21. Kelly

    Lysa, thank you! I can definitely relate to the ‘let’s get together sometime’ phrase. When I say it, I truly mean that I would love to get together and spend time with that person, but in the same moment, I know that I won’t make it happen because of other priorities. It’s a hard one for me…especially when someone else says, ‘let’s get together sometime’ and seems to be leaving the ball in my court. If I don’t follow up, I feel like I’ve let her down. How did THAT happen?
    Thanks again for your honestly…it is always so appreciated & valued!

    Reply
  22. Kelly

    This post is great! I noticed I was doing the exact same things and decided a while back to change it. I know when I ask for prayers it’s usually over something that seems pretty important at the time. I would feel pretty low if I knew people were offering me empty promises of prayer. I don’t want to be that person offering empty promises.

    Reply
  23. Diane

    One day I was in the airport waiting the arrival of a friend. A family was crying as a young man walked away dressed in camouflage. He was a brother and son to this family, and he was on his way to Afghanistan. His name was Michael. I told the family I would pray for them and Michael. Shortly my friend arrived and I forgot about Michael and my promise. Later I was reflecting on the day, and remembered the family and the promise I had made. Sitting there at a traffic light I said a prayer for them, but wished I had prayed with them at that moment. A few years have passed since then, but often God will bring Michael to my mind, and I will stop and pray. This reminded me of him again. Thank you, Lysa!

    Reply
  24. Wendy

    Lysa, your words have really spoken to my heart today. I struggle with all of these and have really been trying to make my words and actions become more intentional. Thank you for sharing!
    Wendy

    Reply
  25. Charlotte Miller

    Lysa, I struggle with all 3 issues that you addressed. Based on other believers’ recommendations,I have begun stopping and praying with that person if they are there or praying right after I send a text, card or an email. I also am a people pleaser because of the Sanguine side of my personality and I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings so I have had a tendency to over-commit. God has blessed me with some close friends who not only shared their hurt when I promised to get together & didn’t follow up but have also called me out for my pride in not liking to admit that I need help in certain areas. Giving those friends permission to call me out about these things they see in me has made a big difference the past 2 years in my transparency with others and also in my prayer life and my being convicted about promises that I meant originally but left empty at the end. Apologizing when I let people down (or prayer or getting together) has opened doors to deeper relationships for me. Thank you so much for your honesty. It helps to know we are not alone in these struggles.

    Reply
  26. Carlene Brown

    Years ago my pastor mentioned in a sermon, Do not tell someone you will pray for them and not pray! I was so convicted. I try very hard not to tell someone I will pray and then not do it. Lysa, I do pray about your problem of ringing in your ear ….. is it still going on? There are so many of us who care deeply for you and would like to know how that is doing.

    Reply
  27. Latosha

    I am not sure what happened to my response, I guess it either got lost in cyberspace or deleted through Divine intervention. However, I am truly thankful that the key to praying for someone, is just that. Whether the method is vocal, written in text or email, I believe that God hears our prayers. Blessings!

    Reply
  28. Melody Byrum

    I struggle with all of these, but in the past year, whenever I tell someone or email someone that I will pray for then, I will stop what I am doing and say a silent prayer for that person. At least, I try to do that all the time. I have gotten better at it though.

    Reply
  29. jaime albaugh

    I totally relate about saying to someone that I am or will pray for them. I think sometimes I have been thinking about them and their situation and hoping it gets better so I say to them I’m praying for them. But then I catch myself and wonder: did I really pray for them or just wish and hope for them. This is a fresh reminder to be more intentional to pray and intercede for those in my life, not just think hopeful thoughts. Thanks for the reality check!

    Reply
  30. Brenna Book

    Most of the people I interact with, including family, is done over Facebook. That is where I tell people I will pray for them, and then I don’t. Just like you said, my heart is in the right place but my brain is so forgetful. So lately on FB when I think to say I will pray for someone, instead of typing “I’ll be praying for you!”, I type out a prayer instead. I am a pretty private person when it comes to pray, so this is a huge thing for me to step out of my comfort zone and do so! But it feels great to follow through and not forget! 🙂

    Reply
  31. Lisa

    I have been so guilty of those unrealized good intentions and empty promises. Now I either tell people I’m “Praying right now!” and DO IT…or I pray first and then let them know, or if we are face to face do it on the spot. This reminds me of a couple of “offers” I made to some good family friends who just suffered a loss. The offer was specific, but needed to be initiated by them. I told them I’d be calling if they didn’t take me up on it soon…it’s been long enough I need to make those calls!!

    Reply
  32. Brenda

    What an awesome God we serve! “I’ll be praying for you” is the phrase I have committed to working on just this week! I was speaking with a very anointed woman of God. As the conversation drew to a close, I asked her to let me know if she needed anything. She said “Pray for me”. Instead of my usual comment, I overcame my fear and insecurity and said “let’s pray now”. And the spirit of God showed me what to pray for. As we said our goodbyes, she said I receive that prayer!
    I am going to start keeping the journal for those times when I can’t pray “now”. Thank you for confirmation!!!!!

    Reply
  33. Debbie Szarka

    Amen! The moment I hang up the phone or sign off of social media or if the person requesting prayer is willing, on the phone with them.

    Reply
  34. Melody Placker

    All three of these hit close to my heart. I have often found my self saying empty phrases on awkward moments. It is something I have been working on. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  35. anna

    Thanks for the post. I really struggle to say the right thing too. I am a people pleaser too. 🙁

    I have another question though. A friend of mine saw you speak at once and now doesn’t follow your blog or fb statuses because you updated your fb status while you were actually on stage speaking. Does someone else post facebook statuses for you? I told her you have a whole organization that supports your ministry, but she was sad that it seemed the person posted as if they were you but they couldn’t be you because you were speaking. What can I say to her?

    Reply
  36. traci stotler

    1. Guilty.
    2. Guilty.
    3. Guilty.

    I too am a people pleaser and put myself in awkward situations to make others happy. I am going to work on praying for people at that instant moment.

    I don’t know how to solve the “let’s get together” situation for me. I tend to be the inviter most of the time and get tired.

    I love reading these comments. Thank you Lysa for your most helpful words! I look forward to more posts dealing with our daily lives.

    Reply
  37. Sandi

    One of the best things I’ve ever learned that has changed my life are these seven little words….”Can I pray for you right now?” It’s amazing how God’s presence shows up when we respond right away!

    Reply
  38. Erin

    I love Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Let us Pray” because it has exactly that message about prayer.

    “I hear you say your heart is aching, you’ve got trouble in the making, and ask if I’ll be praying for you please. And in keeping with convention, I say yes work goods intention, to pray later making mention of your needs. But since we have this moment here at Heaven’s door we should start knocking now. What are we waiting for?”

    Reply
    • KathyFuller

      Erin…I’d never heard this song. I immediately googled the song to get the lyrics and then went to youtube and listened. It’s a great song and I love the message. Thanks so much for mentioning it. 🙂

      Reply
  39. Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing Lysa. Can I comment about # 3? I am a person who spent most of my life consumed with people-pleasing. The comment: “I am good, how are you?” Resonates me. The part that I feel was/is the most misused, in truth: “How are you?” More times than not people say this to be polite, because they really cared less how I was… Some do, but I honestly doubt many really TRULY want to know how you are. I could work on shortening my responses, but it still is something the other side could work on.

    Reply
  40. Shirley

    When someone ask me to pray for them. I say lets pray right now. Like Sandi says God is there when you need Him.
    The other two I am guilty of. All of you please pray with me to be better at the other two.

    Reply
    • KathyFuller

      Lord…Shirley has asked those who have commented here to pray for her. She has commented asking for Your help in using “empty” statements regarding getting together with someone and not following thru and also with asking someone how they are. As we have discussed here, thru these comments, we need to stop and pray immediately when someone asks. I am doing that now. I ask Your for help in rectifying these empty statements not only for Shirley, but for myself as well. We don’t make the statements intentionally of NOT following thru, but in our finite minds and our busy lives, we often forget a promise we have made. Please prick our spirits with a conviction to follow thru immediately, if possible. If it’s not possible, please remind us often until we do follow thru. I have asked these things and thank You for them in Jesus’ precious name…Amen.

      Reply
  41. tammy

    I totally agree. I have felt the same way!

    One thing I did to be more truthful and purposeful is to say, “As the Lord brings you to my mind, I will pray for you.”

    This is more realistic and I can feel sincere as I say this to people.

    Reply
  42. Heather

    Hi!! Lysa,

    This is the first time I’m writing/commenting here. I am married 13years. No kids. I follow your posts. I am from India, Mumbai. I am a people pleaser. I am guilty on all 3 points.

    I say will pray for you and sometimes I pray right there and then whilst the other person is talking. Sometimes I forget to pray altogether. I think some of the girls here mentioned “Lets pray together right now” is a point to be noted.

    I have been in very awkward situations where once we group of friends (some are childhood friends, some after i got married) now they are pitted against each other.. (believers and unbelievers) and I’m stuck in between them. I love my friends.. but this “Let’s get together sometime” has stopped altogether. and if i meet them individually, then i feel guilty of not meeting with the others. That takes a toll on me.

    How does one reply to I am good, how are you? just offhandedly. If i be true and tell a close friend that I’m actually not fine, then i feel as though i am casting a shadow on her day.. i dont want to burden her with my problems..

    Reply
  43. Irma Logan, South Africa

    I have to start my comment by telling everyone that I am a sufferer of severe depression & social anxiety disorder.

    Lysa, you hit the nail on its head with all 3, sometimes, empty things we say to people. Because of the depression my short term memory is badly affected so I fall pray to the same empty words. I try my best to pray immediately for someone if prayer is requested or needed (doesn’t matter where I am). But I still forget as well and feel sad about it. “Let’s get together sometime” doesn’t even play a role in my life anymore as I have zero friends where we live and have become somewhat of a recluse. I’ve also deliberately withdrawn from society because of hurtful words, insincerity and people making uncalled for remarks about my depression. My neighbour, for instance, who works for a 4 doctor practice just said to me “oh no, I just don’t understand this illness of yours” which leads to no.3 – how are you. It is a question asked to easily and with no intention, most of the time, to hear the truth. All they want you to say is “fine thank you and you..”.
    When I ask that question (and please believe me) I really want to know. That is just who I am. BUT, yes fall pray to no. Point 1 a yes and the other two points I’ve explained.

    This is not meant to bore you or ask for sympathy or pity but a straight forward explanation. Thank you for listening and Lysa, may our dear Lord bless your work all the way!

    Reply
  44. Tristi

    I just faced this yesterday when asked if I would sponsor a child. After informing that we already have children we sponsor, I was asked if I would pray for that child. I just looked at her. Since I didn’t respond, she continued talking. I informed her that I wanted to respond honestly. That I was convicted a long time ago that I say I’ll pray for people and then never do. I told her I would say a prayer for that child. And I did. I did again upon reading this post (even though I’ve already forgotten her name). Likely, however, that child will not be a burden on my heart. It’s just not the way I’m wired. I have a difficult enough time faithfully praying for those directly in my life. (It’s something I need to work on, for sure.) Too many times, I say things out of guilt or even good intentions. I’m tired of someone’s word (mine included) not being reliable. These are all things that hit home with me. Let’s not throw empty words out there! Let’s follow through.

    Reply
  45. Toni

    What a blessing to know that everyone has the intent to pray for others but for some reason or another it doesn’t always occur. I’m now going to keep my prayer journal with me so that I can write the names down. I’m also very bad with the whole lets get together thing. I’m going to try my hardest to mean what I say. Thank you for this post. God is truly using you.

    Reply
  46. Pam

    I think I struggle the most with the “lets get together sometime” statement. I do mean it, but you are right. Why am I not pulling out my calendar to set up a day and time right then? I should if I really mean it. And it is hurtful when others say and do the same. I’m going to work on only saying this if I’m willing to set up a day and time.

    Reply
  47. Cindy

    Great reminder on all three points. I would add a 4th…. When someone is going through a difficult time or tragedy and we genuinely say, “If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know. ” The truth is if they were to say something we would gladly do it. The problem is most won’t ask for help or their grief is so deep they have no clue what they need and our statement put the burden on them to think to ask. Just find something and do it. Bring food. Money. Put gas in their car. Sit with them. Sit with their children. Walk their dog. Buy pet food. Scoop their kitty litter! Anything.
    Something God convicted me on years ago… After He had convicted and corrected me of saying “I’ll pray for you” and forgetting to…. was the emptiness of my prayers for people. I had finally come to a point where I truly did pray for others when I said I would but one day I heard of someone who’s child was desperately I’ll and I prayed quickly then stood to go about my business. God grabbed me by the heart and asked, “If this were YOUR child, is that how you would pray for him? Is that how you would want others to pray?” God taught me a serious lesson about intercessory prayers that day.

    Reply
    • Annette

      This is so true. I think that if we did take the time to pray for people then God would lead us to meet their needs. I have been convicted on all three points recently. My husband and father both passed away within days of each other in December 2013, and I have had an urgency to pray for those in need, to fellowship with friends and to really share how I’ve been doing. When you have been on the receiving side of those empty statements you make it a point not to let anyone receive an empty statement. If we really love The Lord and are part of his body we would pray, fellowship, meet the needs and share our heart (be real).

      Reply
  48. Elaine

    I have been guilty of all three at various times and am working to correct those flaws. Thank you so much for this message because I sincerely wanted to follow through at the time, but didn’t make it a priority many times. I had thought perhaps I was the only one with these defects. Thanks for the ideas to help us to take action.

    Reply
  49. Sheri

    I like the idea of the prayer journal. Good devotional for a chilly evening! Thank you!

    Reply
  50. Staci

    Wow!!! I actually do these things!! Thank you for pointing out the HARD TRUTHS!! I’m gonna pay attention starting now!!!

    Reply
  51. Vicky

    Lysa,
    Thank you so much. These are 3 areas I am guilty of as well. I love the idea of keeping a journal or just use my iPhone to keep track (I ALWAYS have my phone).
    I have made the promise regarding #3 already as I am VERY guilty of that. For various reasons.
    Thank you again as God knows the exact moment we need to read and have another reminder thru the lips or fingers 🙂 of others.

    Reply
  52. Noah

    Lisa, may I call you Lisa? Um, I’m guilty of this, I’m guilty of being a shallow friend to my friends, I always say I’m praying, and i used to always mean it, but now my prayers are always for me, and I dwell so much on my circumstances I fail to let God speak through me to my friends. And there are other things that need to go in my life. I don’t want to pretend to love God or my friends anymore, and I need help. I’ve asked this before from many people, this time I’m willing to listen. I ask for prayer that God would break me down into what He wants, and that anything that keeps me from Him, whether sinful or seemingly innocent (both are dangerous). The hard part of this is, most of my friends are overseas, or in another state. Someone special in my life, well I want to love them sincerely instead of pretending to, and I know only through Christ can I love anyone, friends or otherwise. I’ll stop typing now, I know this a lot. I do apologize. Thanks nonetheless for the post.

    Reply
    • MrsL

      Noah. Thank you for your comment. Although you were addressing it to Lysa I heard you. I can relate to what you’re saying. God wants so much to have a relationship with us. Your revelation about yourself is a great way to get closer to Him. Whenever I see something I don’t like about me, but I don’t know to begin to change, God gives me the same message. “Seek year first the kingdom of God and His righteousness And all these things shall be added unto you.” We can’t change us but God can. Ask for help. Ask for the desire to want to do better. May God bless you with the desires of your heart.

      Reply
  53. Melissa

    This is complete confirmation for me! I was literally just thinking about this morning and telling God that I need to have better follow-through. I constantly tell people that I will pray for them, and most of the time I actually do, but sometimes I forget to. I think that perhaps writing it down at the moment I say it may help. I can use my phone to make a note for myself and later write it in a journal so that I can continue to pray for those people.

    The same goes for making plans to spend time with people. However, there have been many times I have tried to schedule it in, but the other person has to get back with me. Perhaps it would be more effective if I take the time to follow-up with them rather than waiting for them to get back to me.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  54. Bing Boettner

    Thanks for the reminders, Lysa. I say those three lines often and forget to follow through. I find it a good practice to just pray right there and then but have not been doing that lately. The calendar on meeting together is a good idea. Blessings to you and yours!

    Reply
  55. Michelle Carrao

    Usually if I tell someone ‘I will pray for you’, I mean it. I want to be a person of integrity not just say something. Besides if God lays someone on your heart to pray for them and you promise Him that you will, you better. 🙂

    Reply
  56. Kathy

    Great posting!

    When I tell someone I will pray for them, I pray right then; I just wish I was better at the follow praying.

    Several years ago, I was very sick and nearly died. In hopes to shed some light, and awareness, of the illness I had, posted all about it on a womens forum, I had been a member of for a while, and thought I knew the ladies. In my write up, I talked about how God saved me, and how thankful I was, and other things. I had a fellow member tell me I was stupid to rely on someone who doesn’t exist, when I should be relying on myself. I was hurt by her words, but blew them off. Until a couple of days later another member posted something, and needed prayers, the same woman who told me I was stupid, responded with an “I will pray for you”. I was so mad; how dare her deny God, but telling someone, who was hurting, that she would pray. However, I knew all I could do was pray, for both ladies. I also decided this group was not the best place for me, because after that I started seeing other, similar situations, taking place. It was not a Christian group.

    Anyway, every since that time I have tried very hard to pray, when I say I will. I don’t want to speak empty words.

    Thanks for posting this!

    Reply
  57. Kendra

    I have also been convicted of this recently. I also felt that when people are experiencing loss or suffering I used to say “Let me know if I can do anything to help you through this” which IS a good thing to say. But I have learned to take it a step further and just DO something to help them through it.

    Reply
  58. Brittany Powell

    I have felt the same conviction related to prayer. I’m so thankful to have read about the prayer notebook app that allows you build a prayer list to look at and allows you to quickly add prayer requests. Also, it has a reminder function that will allow you to choose a time whether daily, weekly, monthly, etc to receive a notification to pray for certain requests. For example: I have been receiving a daily reminder at 11 a.m. for prayer for our upcoming women’s church event. It’s such a great tool if you are like me, and have a desire to follow through with praying for something or someone, and a tendency to forget at times. Enjoyed this article!!

    Reply
  59. Beverly Stethem

    Lysa, you are so right in everything you wrote. I have found myself doing the same things, unfortunately. Reading your blog brings this into the light and makes we want to do better. I do keep a notebook and never thought to use it in such a wonderful way, writing down prayers for others so that I can pray for them. I also do not do well in sharing any issues I may be experiencing. Definitely something I need to work on.

    Reply
  60. Donna Miller

    Thank you so much. I am guilty of not praying every time I promise to do so. There are occasions when it is very appropriate to pray during a phone conversation. Those who are grieving are especially appreciative of our immediate verbal prayers.

    Reply
  61. Jessica

    I have recently been very convicted of #1. I noticed that while I would have honest, true intentions of spending time in prayer for my friends, they would often get lost in the shuffle of daily life. Simply not acceptable. Empty promises don’t accurately reflect the desire I have to lift up my loved one’s in prayer, nor is it acting in obedience to my Father’s commands. I’ve decided, like you, to simply stop what I am doing and pray right then or to make a list and go back to it when I can truly keep my promise in a way that would please my King.

    Reply
  62. Denny

    A couple of thoughts. On the “I’ll pray for you” – Of late, I’ve been trying to make sure I follow through on this promise. I have to agree not only do I forget but some times I forget who I’m praying for because it truly seems like there are SO MANY people that need prayers!!! So, I just generally pray – try to think of the persons that have asked for prayers – and even if I can’t remember all of them – ask God to look into my heart and mind – because He knows who I’m praying for and what needs to be done!!! I recently read something which suggested that when we pray for help/guidance/healing/direction – we should focus on thanking our God for the steps towards what we’ve requested and refrain from asking for the same things – over and over – like a petulant child. So – when I pray for someone – and even just pray for myself – I pray and thank God for all the blessings and assume he has already heard me and will answer my prayers in his time and his way.

    As far as responding to “How are you?” If I’m not at my best I respond, “I’m faking it till I make it.” Which lets them know – there may be some issues – but they can then choose to either ask – or laugh right along with me.

    Reply
  63. Caleine Ajusma

    Hi Lysa,

    Your ministry has truly been a blessing to my life. I must say I am guilty of all three empty statements. Now that I have exposed it I must allow God to do change this behavior around.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  64. Brooke McLendon

    Thanks for posting! It opened my eyes to some small things I’ve been doing wrong. I’ll be working harder to become who I need to be not only for my friends but for myself and God.

    Reply
  65. Ruby

    How my heart is tied to yours with your thoughts today. I have become a pray now person because the reality is: life is crazy; kids, husband, dinners, homeschool, and life in general…if I forget to pray… I am putting an unnecessary guilt and setting myself up for a failure & disappointment. It’s not sad, just honest. So I pray for people on the spot…and if I say “Iwill pray for you” I try and write it down, put it on an alarm on my phone, or write it on my hand with a sharpie!! I am infamous for writing stuff on my hands!
    I am trying to be a woman of my word and get together with everyone I say that too…. now I have learned to not say it so often… not because I don’t want to but because nobody can physically meet with ALL people… Setting boundries is good and seeking the Holy Spirit for who you should be spending time with is wise…We can’t jump into every ship that is sinking…sometimes..those passengers need a partial drowning to see their way out and if you try and pick them up out of the water…they will drown you as well! Not purposely, just because it is not their time to swim yet.
    But the one that totally speaks to my heart is the part about being real with people… I struggle with this! For years have tried to build friendships and relationships with others…by sheer honesty… I have learned to listen to the spirit about who to talk and open up with and who to just give a formal greeting because they do not desire to go deeper. I am a pretty honest and transparent person, which is what people say they love about me…I have a million acquaintances…but only one or 2 friends… So many I have tried to be friends with and talk about things God is doing in my life…and time and time again, people seem to be overwhelmed by honesty and stay far from digging deeper. I have hit depression several thousand times and periods of life where I just remain alone… BUT God is sovereign and good!! For those of who are the same…I don’t even know if anyone will read this… but if you are ever faced with the same… don’t lose heart!! We need to be like Jesus!! even if that means ridicule and rejection…or even crazy stares!! Yes… I get those too!! We need to stay focused on the love and Jesus so we can share it!! This world is full of quiet recluses who want to only peck at the surface while we want to find others to dig deep with. Keep searching!! Keep trying!! Keep looking!! God will bring people your way to laugh and cry with!! Some may be only temporal while other friendships may be long lasting… Don’t lose heart believer!! Jesus loves you and will be the best friend you ever need!! Your honest example will help another to be vulnerable…maybe you are all that believer needs to trust someone again!! So pray, trust, and pray…Jesus will brings the hearts HE wants you to meld with, and the souls HE wants you to encourage…God Bless you Lisa!! Thanks for sharing your heart and being honest…Bless you!!

    Reply
    • Kelly Davis

      Wonderful word. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
    • Gina

      Ruby, your comments about being open and honest really ring true for me as well. I have found people don’t really want open and honesty. They may say they do but when it comes down to it, they turn away when one tries to do so. As a result, I’ve become less open with people and afraid to be more open with people for fear of losing people. But you are right, Jesus will being people into our lives who he wants us to have a true relationship with. And people do come and go in our lives…we just have to learn from them even if it’s not a lif-long relationship.

      Reply
  66. LeQuita Jones

    My sin is lets meet sometime, i do want to meet with them but sometimes i so swap with thing my time doesn’t allow me too. Yes I feel bad, and put them on a schedule just seems wrong. They mean more to me than that. But im doing two wrong trying to do right. What to do?

    Reply
  67. Irma Logan, South Africa

    I am at a bit of a loss here. How can one see all the comments and discussions to this ‘thread’. I’ve clicked on everything that looks like it will take me to the whole list, but only get either the beginning or the end. I would appreciate your help please. May I ask for it by email please as I’m so forgetful that in 2 hours time I will likely have forgotten about this already. Thanking you in advance.

    Reply
  68. Karen Johns

    I always think of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Let Us Pray” when I tell someone I’ll pray for them. I try to always stop right then and pray for them. If it is an online request, I type out my prayer so he/she will know I have in fact prayed.

    The next one of these I need to work on is the “I’m good”….

    Reply
  69. Nadine

    I,m very careful bout this,I usually pray for the request before I reply.then you want forget.

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  70. Kelly Davis

    Thank for bring up this subject. It is so very easy to just brush someone off with “call me, we will have lunch, or I’ll pray for you about that”, and the moment your step away the request has already left your mind. I no longer what to be that kind of superficial person. Great idea to keep a not pad in your purse to write down those requests, or made a date right then with some one. I will be asking the Lord to help me with this.

    Reply
  71. Rosa

    Great post. I try to follow through. I do slip at times. Another one that I am trying to be more intentional about is “MAY GOD BLESS YOU”. I really want to pray God’s blessing upon everyone that I say that to and not just use those words as a way of saying bye.

    Reply
  72. Donna Walker

    This reminds me that many years ago I was faced with a social media situation that exposed my empty and insincere words. In response to prayer requests posted on my face book feed I’d often click ‘like’ or type ‘praying’ or something similar in the comment line with the good intention of following through by praying. Well, it didn’t take the Holy Spirit long to convict me of the times I had not prayed after indicating that I would take the time to pray. My initial rememdy to my genuine yet, ’empty word’ response to fb prayer requests was to bow my head as soon as I read the prayer request… Audibly lift the person and their need to Christ’s throne of grace as he is seated by the right hand of the Father, faithfully and fully interceeding for the prayer need the moment I became aware of the prayer request. Then came the first time the Holy Spirit led me to boldly type out my prayer in the comment line below the posted prayer request… I call this ‘POL’. =) Through the years I’ve written out my prayers in a prayer journal. Often the Holy Spirit will lead me to ‘pray-out-loud’ (POL). =) Other bold prayer warriors have surfaced in my fb feed and I love to read these prayers and agree! The Holy Spirit has used this ‘type’ (pun intended) of praying-out-loud to strengthen my personal prayer life and to expose my faith and love for Christ to all of my face book friends. I’m sure a few individuals have backed off from our fb relationship due to my bold “P’ingOL’. Many fb relationships have deepened as lonely and hurting individuals have reached out via private message for prayer and encouragement. The Holy Spirit is faithful to lead either to pray either privately or openly. Most of my bold praying is done via private message. Social media works well for me as a ministry opportunity because God continues to faithfully protect me from empty and insincere words. Thank you Lisa for your bold, transparent and meaningful witness to life in Christ Jesus.

    Reply
  73. Nannette

    Ruby I love your post!

    Reply
  74. anita steele

    Oh my goodness I am so very guilty of this. I seem to say whatever I THINK needs to be heard at the moment just to satisfy the other person’s situation. This is an area of my life that I have struggled with for a long time. Thank you for the transparency.

    Reply
  75. Kathy

    This is a great posting and a good reminder for all of us. Being real is something I strive hard to be, to mean what I say and say only what I mean. Number three I have to keep in check and I struggle with sometimes. I was told by a former boss that when people ask how I am, I am to say I’m good. So I’ve trained myself to say it just as you expressed above. And I struggle with that because obviously it is not the truth all the time and I hate lying. My dear friends though, they know when I’m not telling the truth and they call me on it.

    Number two, I just try not to say, because it hurts my heart too. Number one, now that is something that has such power to encourage or deflate. Let me explain – my husband lost his job a month ago. For anyone who has a beloved, whose identity was tied (perhaps too much) to their job, you will understand how crushing this is. He literally feels lost in space, floating in a boat w/o oars or an anchor. The people who say this as a closing word to end a conversation w/him, usually haven’t encouraged him much, because honestly, most of the time those same people are the ones who also tell him that God has a better plan for him and he will be fine. That may be true and I do pray it is true, however they are empty words.

    The people who actually stop and say a prayer w/him, who call him regularly to check in and encourage him – now when they say they are praying, it’s believeable. Because their actions support their words and they are helping to be the anchor he needs in this turbulent time.

    Reply
  76. Laurie Fritsch

    You nailed my top three biggies here, Lysa! I totally relate. I need to be ‘real’ with people. And when I’m tempted to feed them an empty statement, I should expect the same in return. On occasion it may be better to say, “Well, I’d love a minute to chat. Can we meet for Coffee on Saturday at 11 a.m.?” There’s got to be a more effective statement we can share even when we’re in a hurry or need to stay on schedule. This is a tough one. However, Lysa, just making me STOP and think about how flipant I can be was worth the read!!

    Reply
  77. Julie Smith

    Hi there,

    I want to take a different spin on this (note: maybe someone has already said this… I didn’t read every post… since we’re being honest) Recently, I have been accused of being “flippant” when I said, “I’ll pray”. Perhaps it’s because we all have been guilty of flippantly saying we will do so, and don’t. But, I have made a point of asking the Lord — even to remind me to remember this person, and what they are needing. Sometimes it means doing something more substantial like a note, or cookies… but I really want my friends to understand that when I promise to pray — that’s no small deal. It means going before the throne, and pouring out my heart – standing in the gap… and I do just that! I consider myself a prayer warrior. I will write it down, and take note at times – but do I need to “prove” in some way that I have followed through? Just a thought!

    Reply
  78. Lori

    “I’m good” is my standard, or I’m OK. Even though usually…i’m very very not. But mostly I a) don’t think the other person REALLY wants to hear all my stuff or b) I don’t WANT to share all my stuff. It’s usually B.

    Reply
  79. Shirl

    So easy to say, and so easy to forget…when I say I will pray for you, I would do it right then, I would say do you have a moment now, many times I don’t have that moment, but to pray for someone I will put there needs first, you don’t have to do a 30 min prayer.

    Reply
  80. Whitney Sparks

    I am so glad you brought this up! I have thought about this many times as a Christian and have wondered why I just never stop and pray right then. Why do I make a promise that I will probably forget to keep? I have often thought “Well, I’m at work. I’m not sure how people would take this.” Now when I read that it seems so shallow. I am determined to do what I say and committed to stopping to pray wherever I am! Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  81. Cindy Neubecker

    This is a great reminder not to put unnecessary expectations where they are not needed. Just the hype of Valentines day (commercials, store displays etc) can get me expecting my husband to be some romantic prince that he is not. I have known that for 27 years and love him dearly. He’s great and loves me but he’s not too romantic. I think it’s a great idea to think about ways to show love to others instead of being so self centered. Thanks

    Reply
  82. Larry Short

    Yes, this was very convicting! I think most of us have been guilty of this broken promise.

    What I try to do instead, now, is to pray for the person on the spot, either together, with them; or if on email, I tell them “I’m praying for you right now” — and it’s true.

    Or else I’ll assure them, “I’ll pray for you as the Lord brings you to mind.” And so often He does.

    I think keeping a prayer journal with you is a great idea. In fact, an iPhone app for this purpose would be superb.

    Reply
  83. Grace

    Waoh!! God bless you for being so open and honest. I am guilty too of all 3 things. Sometimes we faith issues when we are actually hurting. We need to know where and when to draw the line. Let’s say only the things we mean. Stay blessed.

    Reply
  84. Jessica Capps

    Just found this today and it is perfect for me right now, thank you Lisa!

    Reply
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