When “I’ll Pray for You” Is An Insult


Sometimes words said with good intention can be insulting. We live in a world where it’s easier than ever to comment on a friend or family member’s trials, triumphs, and everything in-between. But do we stop to think before we insert our like, love, or laughing face?

I will be the first to say I love emojis and use them often in texts and on social media, but I often wonder what all this instant, no-thought-required communication is really doing to our ability to communicate. Take, for example, the statement, “I’ll pray for you.” Or the comment I see more often, “Thoughts and prayers!”

Now, by no means am I saying we shouldn’t pray for others. Sometimes, as I stated in my previous post, it’s all we can do. And let them know you’re praying. It can encourage a person’s heart to know there are people rallying behind them in prayer.

But what if there is something else we can do? What about the times when someone desperately needs help, and we could be the ones God uses to provide it?

There are times when I see people on Facebook crying out for help. Sometimes, it’s a home that’s flooded and they need a place to stay. Or they’re sick and could really use a hot meal. The possibilities are endless.

If we have the resources and ability to help the person in need, are we really displaying the love of Christ by saying “I’ll pray for you,” and then carrying on with our lives? While I’m certain God is all-powerful and able to swoop down, make the person some soup and deliver it to their front door, do you think maybe that’s what he’s called us to do instead?


When Jesus walked the earth during his earthly ministry, he prayed. A lot. He and the Father were in constant communion and he often removed himself from others completely so he could be alone in prayer.

But I don’t recall a single time when someone walked up to him, begging for help, food or shelter, and he said, “I’ll pray for you.” He knew there was a time to pray and a time to act, and he wasn’t going to mislead others by confusing the two.

John, who was with Jesus during most of his ministry, says it like this:

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:18 NIV

Friends, prayer was never intended to be used as an excuse for inaction. And I am convicted. I am guilty of turning the other way when I know God was asking me lend a helping hand, but he is showing me that if we are to be his hands and feet, we must act. We must move. We must do something other than say, “I’ll pray for you.”

I know there are seasons when we are stretched thin between little ones, jobs and other responsibilities. Prayer may truly be the best we have to offer. I know there are also times when we aren’t the best person to help.

But if we are constantly turning the other way, we need to reevaluate. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask the question every person who attended VBS as a kid knows: What would Jesus do?

I can guarantee you, he would do more than sit. Let’s follow his example and do the same.


Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #IntentionalTuesday

17 thoughts on “When “I’ll Pray for You” Is An Insult

  1. So true Abby, and commitment to offer help when needed doesn’t go unnoticed. During a recent trial, it meant so much to me when a friend called and asked if she could come to the hospital, or bring food to the house. I will always remember her offer to help in our time of need:) Great thoughts to ponder today my friend.


    • Yes, it’s amazing how much love a hot meal can convey during a time of need. I experienced that after delivering our youngest son. Such a blessing. Thank you for sharing, Kristine.


  2. What a great and challenging post, Abby! You are so right. Even when we are face to face, it is so easy to say “I’ll pray for you” and then not do it. Which is why I have tried to say “Can I pray for you now?” instead, when meeting people or at church. But it is still so easy to say on social media that I’m praying for someone and happily carry out my day without actually doing it. I am convinced Jesus would never say those words without actually praying, so we should do just the same! Blessings to you!


  3. Amen, Abby! I hear and have ashamedly sometimes used praying for someone as an excuse to not do what the Lord may have been asking me to do. Convicting, helpful words today. Thank you!


  4. “Prayer was never intended to be used as an excuse for inaction.” I totally agree. We can use it as a cop-out, to make us not look as bad or feel as bad. Of course there are times when prayer is our only option, but it’s best when combined with hands-on action too. Thanks for sharing this, Abby.


  5. Abby, I got your contact from your admiring brother, Daniel Breter, here in Columbia at ASGDC where I am religious volunteer on Sundays. Just a passing word to a home schooling mom, I think Daniel said? And fellow FB and blogger. Inmates need strong support groups to stand with them. I like your blog. Press on in the Lord, sister. Fred Kerr


    • I am so glad to hear Daniel is finding good Christian support there, Fred. Yes, I am a stay-at-home mom but no homeschool. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by today. Good encouragement for my heart. I’ll be praying for your ministry.


  6. “But I don’t recall a single time when someone walked up to him, begging for help, food or shelter, and he said, “I’ll pray for you.” He knew there was a time to pray and a time to act, and he wasn’t going to mislead others by confusing the two.” ~~~ Grabbing a hold of these statements right here and carrying them with me, Abby! Thank you for these words!


  7. Great practical encouragement, Abby. I know that in this busy and hurried world, we can often forget the need for tangible service. I’m not one to call out for help, but when I have a need I know how blessed I am when others take the initiative to bring a meal, or pick up my son from school, or just visit. You’ve reminded me today of the great value in those actions. Always blessed, friend. xoxo


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