“I’ll be praying for you.”
I say this a lot. I believe prayer to be wonderful and powerful, allowing me to converse with God anywhere and anytime. It’s an incredible gift that deepens my relationship with my Savior, has a tangible impact on the world around me, and has the power to bring comfort to the people around me who are desperate for divine intervention.
I, um, also say it when I don’t know what else to say.
Many times this is okay – I’m not expected to have all the answers or solve anyone’s problems. But sometimes I say it when I get uncomfortable and want to end the conversation. And then I mean to pray for them, but then life gets in the way and I just don’t. And it’s behavior like this that makes the powerful words, “I’ll be praying for you” seem trite and devoid of the power it could have.
Am I alone in this? I don’t think so. I think we get overwhelmed by the number of people in our lives that need prayer. We get overwhelmed by the magnitude of their problems. We start doubting, “Could God really do this?” or “What if what I’m praying for them doesn’t happen? Does that mean I’ve failed or they’ll think God failed?” Or maybe we think, “How can I possibly pray for all these people? I’ll be praying all.the.time.”
How do we keep this powerful phrase, “I’ll be praying for you” alive with meaning and a tangible help in times of trouble without becoming overwhelmed? How can we use it not as a conversation stopper, but as a conversation starter with the Savior?
- Pray with her on the spot. I know. Asking someone, “Can I pray for you right now?” and then actually proceeding to pray out loud can seem super scary. But know this: Words have power, the Holy Spirit can supply the words for you to say, and you don’t have to go on and on. You might just take your friend’s hand and say something like this: “Jesus, my friend is in pain. We ask you to come and comfort her, give her wisdom, and show her You are with her always. Amen.” Praying over the phone can be just as powerful.
- Pray for her virtually. All the time in my Facebook feed, I see people hurting. Some are asking for prayers. I know that I love these people. I know I want to pray for them. But I also know that it is beyond my capacity right now to pray for each one in my prayer time every day. Oftentimes, I will write a few sentences of prayer in the comment box on their status. They know I prayed and they know what I prayed. If someone emails you asking for prayer, you can reply with your actual prayer instead of just a simple, “Praying!”
- Don’t be afraid to pray for more than she asks. When we are in pain and suffering, we often don’t know what we really need. Often the extent of our prayer is something like, “Make it stop!” or “Help me!” This is why God created us to live in community. We need the wisdom and discernment of our friends to bring us hope when we’re in the hard places. We need them to pray for all the things we simply cannot realize we need.
- Pray when you’re prompted. It’s impossible to know all the time when your friends need prayers. But the Holy Spirit knows exactly what we need. If you’re driving in the car and your friend comes to mind, turn your thoughts to praying for her instead of trying to figure out why she’s on your heart.
- Send a text. Do you know your friend is struggling and you wish you could fill a box with hope and send it to her? You can. There are so many bible verses that communicate light and hope. Send her some scripture and let God speak to her heart. Maybe even personalize it with her name. Here are some of the ones I love:
- “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” (Hebrews 10:23)
- “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
- “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
- “God is our refuge an strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Prayer is one of the strongest weapons we have to defeat darkness and overcome trials and trouble. It is our connection, our access, to the Savior who longs for us to bring us all our worries and anxieties to Him. Let’s not let our overwhelm and busyness get in the way of truly supporting our sisters through crises. Let’s let the words, “I’ll be praying” hold much weight and worth.
Note from the Editor: Because of his profession in the public eye, my good friend has chosen to write this anonymously. However, the insight in this article is incredible, and something all men can learn from. Enjoy.
There are so many blogs and articles out there geared toward girls and women on praying for their future spouses, but almost none geared specifically toward men… so we thought we’d help fill that gap a bit and offer a little advice for single guys on how to pray for your future wife as you navigate the single life.
Being a single guy in Los Angeles, I’ve had my fair share of relationship highs and lows over the years. Beautiful women are abundant in this place, probably more so than any other city in the world. They’re at every street corner, every coffee shop, every bar, and of course… in every casting office. Makes me think of a famous line written by the 18th century English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which says: “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.”
This city has an overabundance of beautiful women, but that doesn’t mean that most of them are suitable for you to bring home and introduce to your Mama. In LA, and in many other places, it can seem to be a daunting task to not only find a great gal, but one who also happens to be a great fit for you as well. So… how do we solve this dilemma? How do we find the right woman for us?
God Can Help You Find Your Future Wife
Through my dating and relationship experiences, I’ve realized one thing: I’m never going to find the right woman for me if I take on this seemingly monumental task on my own. After my last relationship ended, leaving my mind and heart wounded, I realized I needed to change my entire approach. Sure, I’ve prayed many times for my future wife over the years, even prayed for attributes that I hoped she would have, what she might be like, etc etc… but as I’ve been growing deeper into my faith this year especially, I realized that my approach to these prayers needed a shift.
Shifting Your Prayer Focus
In the book of Genesis, God tells us “It is not good for man to be alone.” Proverbs also tells us “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.” But more importantly, Matthew 6:33 tells us to “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Admittedly, this last verse is the one that I had not been focusing on so much these past few years. Like many of us single men, I’ve been focusing on seeking after what I thought my heart wanted and burned a lot of energy by looking all over the place to try and find the right woman for me. I think like many of us, I haven’t fully trusted God or His timing. I’ve tried to rush Him along. I’ve tried to help him out along the way, and I haven’t always made Him the focus of where I chose to seek.
Praying For The Desires Of Your Heart
Psalm 37:4 says “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
We can rest in knowing that He put those desires for a wife on our hearts, so this is indeed something good that He wants for us. The root of the word “desire” actually means “of the Father”, which tells us the root of our healthy desires come from our Heavenly Father. God knows what I need, and what you need; better than we even know for ourselves. We should have peace in knowing that whatever great plan we think we have cooked up for our lives, God has something (and someone) even better for us if we just trust in Him and seek Him first.
Seeking God First
As you begin to pray for your future wife, choose to commit your life to seeking God first, and you will start to feel the pressure and the burden of looking for the right girl lift off your shoulders. He will bring His perfect desire to pass in your life. As long as your eyes are on Him first, He won’t steer you in the wrong direction. The more you focus on Him, the more obvious His will for you and your future wife will become. He’ll give you the discernment so that you’ll know it when you meet her. I’ve prayed and asked Him to take away the burden of trying to find the right girl on my own, and have asked Him to bring the right woman across my path in His timing. Since I’ve given that task back to Him, life has just felt a lot brighter, and quite frankly, it’s been a lot more fun too. I’ve also noticed that the more I seek Him and take delight in Him, I’ve begun to forget that I’m actually single. I used to think about my singleness and loneliness quite often (which is probably what sent me chasing after the wrong girls to begin with), but ever since I started genuinely focusing on seeking Him, I’ve found that I’m really enjoying this “bro time” with just God and I until He brings the right woman for me.
Pray For God’s Perfect Timing
As single men, we will one day be married and eventually have children to raise, which means that we will have lots of new responsibilities and our time will be focused heavily on our families. So while you have the time now, take advantage of this moment to get to know God more, and I imagine you will experience a new found happiness and peace just like I have been experiencing. So as you pray for your soon-to-be wife to come into your life, just pray for God’s perfect will and timing in this and I guarantee He won’t let you down. I’m believing in this for my own life, and I fully expect God to deliver on His promises for me, as He will for you.
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In the fifth grade, I somehow managed to inadvertently charm the hearts of 10 starry-eyed girls, which meant that, before I even turned 10, I had in both my metaphorical and literal lap 10 potential candidates to be my first ever girlfriend.
Helga was Russian, like her name suggested, and every time I saw her she’d wave at me, even if it was the second, or third, or seventh time our eyes had met in the past twenty minutes.
Tricia lived right behind me, and sometimes when I went through the back to take out the trash she’d see me from her room and bang on the window. Sometimes I wouldn’t look up.
Carol sat next to me in class and guffawed every time I told a joke. I told a lot of jokes, but most of them were probably elementary at best (ba-dum-bum).
I don’t remember the rest of the girls. I suspect there weren’t actually 10, maybe four or five at the most. If there were 10, then some of them didn’t reveal their identities. I still call it the “Year of the 10,” but as a joke, really. I also tell people that this, unfortunately, was the highest point of my woman-wooing career. Also as a joke.
Twelve years later, it still gets laughs.
Laughing is the only thing you can do sometimes. I find myself laughing when I pray. Not because the concept of praying is laughable, although to some people it may seem like nothing more than making a ball with your hands and talking to yourself (a pretty funny image actually, if it is true). For me, it’s more or less because the things I ask for are ridiculous.
I have prayed for a scooter. I have prayed for my dog to bite me less. I have prayed to grow up, or at least look grown-up, to maybe get some acne or something. I have regretted that prayer.
I have prayed to get into Stanford. I have prayed for a good roommate. When I got drunk, I prayed for forgiveness. I was drunk while praying.
I have prayed for a job. I have prayed to not get fired from that job. After getting fired from that job, I prayed for McDonald’s breakfast to still be open or so help me God.
I have prayed to meet someone mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved. I have prayed for someone that could actually understand the crap I write. I have prayed for my soul’s recognition of its counterpoint because yes, Wedding Crashers actually had a profound effect on me. Pray, pray, pray, it was all I did for a while; for pillow talk and an excuse to be vulnerable and the freedom to stare into someone’s eyes without speaking; for a friend that is a girl, for a girl that is a friend, and for safe passage across the cruel, lexical bridge between the two.
My friends have girlfriends. As if that is some kind of persuasive argument.
Steven and Jamie are my friends. Here is a wedding toast I wrote for them:
Hey y’all, I’m Simon. The best man.
Just wanted to say a few words.
I met Steve on the very first day of my freshman year at college. I needed a screwdriver to fix my bedpost, so I walked the three steps to his room and asked him if he had one. He did. Steve’s been fixing everything in my life since. From my laptop problems to my girl problems to even my teeth problems (he wanted to be a dentist, you see), I would not be standing here right now so upright and handsome if it wasn’t for him.
But I never got to return the favor. See, there was only one thing Steve ever needed, and it was that special someone in his life. Someone who could make him work. And play. And go to sleep with a smile on his face and wake up with a bigger one. And he found that girl, Jamie, who is sitting right there next to him now, sitting there with the biggest smile on her face, just a couple months into the school year.
Steve and Jamie, when I look at you guys, I see two people, hearts beating as one, breathing as one, living as one. Loving as one. There’s nothing to fix here. I know it will work just fine for the rest of your lives. Congratulations Steven and Jamie on your beautiful wedding.
I wrote that toast my freshman year. Now I’m living in a suburb of Connecticut and working a full-time job at a collectibles company. On weekends I take the Metro North to the city to see Steve and Jamie. Scrunched up on their living room couch, I fall asleep to the sound of their giggling. I have witnessed them date for four and a half years, and as far as I know, they have never gotten in a fight — or married. Yet.
There are many things that are uncertain in life, but this isn’t one of them: I will be giving this toast at their wedding.
They sometimes pray at weddings.
During a traditional Christian wedding ceremony, there is an opening and closing prayer; the first is an invocation, the second, a blessing. The kiss comes immediately after the blessing.
Muslim weddings follow ceremonies with lavish dinners, where the newlyweds read prayers, a Qur’an placed between them. They can look at each other, but only through mirrors.
In a Buddhist wedding ceremony, the bride and groom handle the preparations. At a certain point the bride will bow down and pray to her ancestors as a way of saying goodbye to her family.
A Jewish wedding day is also a private day of atonement. The bride and groom include Yom Kippur confessions in their mincha, or afternoon prayers.
Modern Hindu wedding ceremonies require the couple to walk around a fire as the priest prays for their happiness and health. Traditional Hindu weddings can last up to five days.
I have only been to one wedding. My thin and small-framed, native Chinese, God-loving aunt got hitched to a tall white man who believed only in the value of nutrients and daily exercise. During the reception, Aunt Katy led my confused grandfather to the dance floor, as deemed by tradition. He stood stiff, never smiling the whole time. This, too, was deemed by tradition.
There was no prayer at that wedding, though.
“Dally, let’s get married and get three puppies and two—”
“Noo Dawn — four puppies. And three kids. And I really, really, REALLY want to name one of them Dante.”
“Okay that’s fine. But can we also get an alpaca?”
I remember watching Dallas and Dawn on the El during a chilly winter evening ride to downtown Chicago. The wind would seep through the train every time it stopped. I remember watching Dallas take his glove off his right hand while Dawn did the same with the mitten on her left hand, just so they could hold hands, so they could feel the creases on each other’s palms and the thin bones on their fingers.
Many Sunday mornings I have heard my pastor say, “There is nothing like the warmth of God’s love.” Or: “Love, because God loved us first.” Or: “Pray, because to pray is to love.”
It has also become apparent to me that one should sing in order to worship God. (Or: to love God). It turns out I have never been a good singer.
I remember reading the words on the projector and thinking about a girl instead.
Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging
Your love is a mountain, firm beneath my feet
Your love is a mystery, how You gently lift me
When I am surrounded, Your love carries me
Hallelujah, Your love makes me sing
Hallelujah, Your love makes me sing
Tim Keller, author, speaker, and founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City once told me that the very concept of love is best explained by God, for God is love. Sitting among a crowd of 500, I interpreted it as a question of perspective. Which one is ultimately better? What a believer sees, or what a non-believer sees?
I suppose it is nicer to associate love with a higher power, rather than with a chemical reaction.
(This is not to say all non-believers use science to explain abstract concepts like love. It’s just that in this case, love — without science, without religion — must be harder, maybe even impossible, to explain. And maybe no explanation is necessary. Love is love. But then I find myself thinking about what Keller said: “Who is really taking the leap of faith here?”)
“What are you thinking?” she asks me.
Love, love, love. Love for my dining hall pasta.
It is Tuesday afternoon, which means for dinner they will be serving made-to-order pasta. I am a big fan of that pasta, probably because the year before I lived in a dining hall with far inferior food, to the point that every day, I was forced to endure the same bland, over-cooked combination of noodles and marinara sauce. I am looking forward to 6:00 pm because this is when I will go downstairs and tell the cook that I would like some delicious ribbon pasta with chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, basil, garlic, and Alfredo sauce.
We hide beneath my dark blue checkerboard covers, just the two of us, and her eyes, coffee-colored in the lambent light, keep pulling me closer. So I stop looking.
“Nothing,” I tell her.
Nothing, I think, staring into darkness, Nothing must sound better than the most delectable pasta in the world.
I hardly ever pray with people. I wonder what my prayers would sound like to them. Or to God.
I pray for many things, most of them trivial, material, even selfish — things you ask Santa Claus for, not God (unless the two are actually the same). Would they judge me for it?
I pray and often end up telling a story that nobody wants to hear, rambling till it becomes ranting, and then I mutter a quick “Amen” and am done with it. Would they fall asleep?
I pray and plead (more or less just plead), try and try and try to convince God that not once was I ever in love, not once, that sometimes things just happened and it was nice and also not nice, and if it was nice, it always turned out to be not nice when it ended.
And I ask him if these things were just a form of preparation, because I have never been in love and I needed to be prepared for love, but now that I’ve had nearly 23 years of preparation, maybe it was time to test it out, to see if all the difficult preparation has been worth it.
Would they laugh and call me a hopeless romantic?
Would God answer?
There isn’t really a formula. No step-by-step directions. Just knees sinking to the floor, hands clasped together, and eyes buried behind wavering lids. Throw a word or two into the wilderness and you might get a reply. But God, like that girl you charmed while walking up four flights of stairs when the elevator broke, doesn’t always call back.
Please help me find a relationship with a great girl. I am a 13 year old male who has had only 2 girlfriends my whole life. Those combined would only equal about a month and a half. I have this great girl in mind and her name is Lindsey.
I really like her but I don’t know if she like me. I am going to Catholic High school next year which is a all boys school and I’m afraid I won’t be able to find a girlfriend before that. I am not socially active except for at school. I have asked this girl out once but she said no only because I was really desperate which I am.
My friends were talking about it today and they said I should ask her out again. I am scared to because she might say no again. Please give her the sense that I like her and me and her start talking more and maybe I can work up the courage to ask her again. Please help me. I love you. Amen