Prayer is important to me, and I often pray for others. However, I seldom promise to pray for them. Why is that?
Too many times, people have told me they’d pray for me, but I sensed they never would. Their words were hollow. Perhaps they had good intentions, or maybe they were just saying what they thought they should, being socially polite, with no intention of following through.
I seldom make that promise to pray for others because I’m afraid I might forget. I’d rather not promise to pray and pray anyway, than to make a promise and not pray.
This reminds me of a story Jesus once told about two sons. The father tells the first to go work in the vineyard. The boy says “No,” but later changes his mind and goes to work anyway.
When Dad tells the second son to get to work, the boy says “Sure,” but he never does. Jesus commends the first son as the obedient one.
As they say, action speak louder than words. Don’t talk about praying, just pray.
When an opportunity to pray for a person or situation arises, I try to pray immediately. If the situation allows, I pray aloud. Other times I pray silently. In both cases I trust the Holy Spirit to remind me to pray again later. Sometimes it’s a single prompting; in other instances it’s multiple times, over the course of hours or days.
Usually this spiritual cue results in a short prayer: God does not need to hear many words or elegant words, just honest words. Other times I stop what I’m doing, become still, listen to God, and pray accordingly.
Our promises to pray are not what’s important; it’s our actual prayers that matter.