That kind of thinking is simply not true. That is not what prayer is.
Prayer is a literal conversation with your creator, God Himself. It's a pretty amazing thing. Even more incredibly, God has it set up that we can call in on Him whenever we feel like it. We don't have to be in a holy place or schedule a time to talk to Him. (As busy as God is, I think that's pretty generous of Him. :)
When we talk to God, we can petition Him for things. We can ask Him for ideas how to help somebody out. We can ask for special blessings to be on people during their hardships. I know from countless experiences that He hears the prayers and answers them. I have even had one special occasion where I literally felt the power of the prayers that were said for me when I was really struggling.
Prayer is an amazing tool.
Whenever bad things happen, phrases like "You'll be in my prayers" tend to pop up. What I wish I would say when I hear those words or see them typed up on social media is this: "Honey Child. You are the prayer." (Or rather, the answer to someone's prayer.)
Some prayers are dished out without realizing that God has something to say after the requests have been made. Like many, I'm so guilty of throwing in a prayer like "Please bless Amy that she'll have the faith to be healed and will be comforted at this time" and then moving on without hearing God's response of "Chaun, I need you to visit Amy and let her talk out her feelings. Be there, so that she knows I am there."
This past weekend has been devastating for Orlando, Florida in two separate events. It's been a shock and brought tears in our family. Sunday night, after hearing of the latest shooting, I was stunned. Since then in our prayers, whether it was family prayer or blessing the food, we prayed for the people. After a couple of those prayers, I found myself stuck and frustrated. I didn't know what more I could do, other than praying. Prayer is more than just asking for goodwill. Prayer is a tool to inspire action. But I did not know what action I could take.
So what could someone (like myself) without direct contact to the people do to help?
Here's what some pretty great people are already doing.
1. Sharing words of inspiration on social media. Whether it was the call to action of "#PrayForFlordia or sharing a testimony, both shared goodness.
3. As inspired by my grandmother who made cookies for her new neighbors today, I realized goodness could be done in the lives I could touch. Everyone is fighting a hard battle. Everyone needs kindness. When I can't jump on a plane and hug every single person in Orlando who was hurt this weekend, I can still make dinner for a pregnant sister-in-law. Or visit lonely grandparents. Or even send cards to recovering victims.
With the mindset that "I can do something", then there isn't much need to even say "Let me know how I can help". Any creative, small act of kindness will always go a long way.
When saying "I'll pray for you" doesn't feel like it's enough, realize that meaningful prayer inspires action. God will tell you what you can do. There will always be an opportunity to help.