“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” | Martin Luther
Let’s imagine, for a moment, that you were born with an incredible memory. Over the last [insert number] years of your life, how many times have you heard the words,
“I’ll pray for you“
come from someone – perhaps after you shared a difficult situation you were going through?
Now, think about how many times you have said the same thing to someone else? For me, my answer to both of the above questions would probably be somewhere in the hundreds!
One last question: How many times have you followed up with the person you said you were going to pray for? How many times have you practically helped them in addition to the prayer you had promised? If I were to answer that for myself… well. Let’s just say that I’m a little embarrassed to even consider it…
As Christians, we’ve gotten comfortable with keeping people at arm’s length. When someone shares something tough they’re going through, I tend to think to myself, “Well, the best way that I can help them is by praying. I don’t want to intrude on their life or get too involved with what they’re going through because they might not want that.”
But is this really what Jesus would have done?
I feel that lately, God has been teaching me more about reflecting the heart of Christ through my actions. When someone opens up about something they’re struggling with, they have already involved me in that area of their lives. While praying is important,
prayer + action is even better.
So, without further adieu, here are 5 ways to practically help someone in addition to praying for them:
1. Spend time with them.
I know I’ve been through tough periods of my life when I was just looking for someone to spend time with. Even if it meant we sat around and did nothing all day, the feeling of having someone who cared for me nearby was extremely comforting when I was feeling down. Think about some of the things this person enjoys doing, and make it happen! Do you live far away from each other? Sometimes, even a phone call can make a person’s day!
2. Go on an errand with them.
This suggestion is pretty similar to what I’ve stated above, but slightly more specific. Perhaps your friend is going through a difficult medical situation? Attend the doctor’s appointment with them. Or it could be that they don’t want to be alone while taking care of daily errands. There is tremendous power in presence. Help them understand that even in the midst of daily activities, they are not doing this life alone!
3. Let them cry/talk it out.
I know it sounds simple, but sometimes your friend may just be looking for someone to lend an ear. But don’t just hear their words, listen. They may not be looking for opinions – just let them get everything off of their heart without worry of judgement or criticism. Help them understand that their words hold value.
4. Take care of some chores for them.
I’ve known folks who have been in such difficult circumstances or depression that even daily chores seemed strenuous. What are some things you could take care of for them? Perhaps cook a meal, tidy up around the house, or pick up some dry cleaning? Again, all very simple things to do! But for someone who has a lot on their mind, even something simple like this could mean the world to them.
5. Encourage them with Bible verses & uplifting quotes.
Whether it’s through text, an email or in person, send your loved ones reminders from God’s Word. If they are in need of some encouragement, send them a few quotes that will lift them up. We can’t forget the power residing in God’s Word. The right word at the right time can make all the difference!
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” | Ephesians 6:18
I’m not trying to say that prayer alone is not effective. In fact, prayer is absolutely essential to every part of our lives as believers! It’s the way that we communicate our thoughts and requests to the God who loves us so much! But, it’s wrong to go on thinking that prayer is the only thing we can do to help those who are hurting.
When someone comes to you, hurting and needing a friend, realize that they’re trusting you with some of the heaviest parts of their heart. Through the Bible, we understand there are practical ways to live out the Gospel and reflect the heart of Jesus to others. After all, He was the best example of how to practically care for and and meet the needs of others, even in the worst of circumstances.
Next time someone comes to us with a difficult situation and in need of prayer, let’s not keep them at arm’s length. Let’s become a people who truly does life together instead.