I don’t take prayer lightly. Prayer is important to me. It is woven through my faith in a way that can’t be pull apart. Prayer is an honor to me. It’s a privilege. It’s a closeness, an invitation, a conversation, and a comfort.
I do not claim to pray for someone without actually praying for them. Well, of course, there are the times I forget or get delayed, but I keep that to a minimum by setting reminders on my phone, keeping lists, and praying in the midst of a lot of situations and conversations.
When someone says they will pray for me, I am grateful.
But recently, I had a different response. Then, God paused me.
Two people I’d been close to before the divorce, who I believed loved me well, for all practical purposes, severed their relationship with me. After praying about and over it, I wrote them a note. I heard nothing from them. Not that I expected to; that wasn’t the goal of the letter. I reach out every now and then, and the last time I texted, their reply was “We still pray for you.”
In the context of the severed relationship, their reply stung even though it was about prayer. It left a bitter taste in my heart. How sincere could their prayers be when they didn’t pursue a relationship or show anything to me but rejection?
But God paused me.
Don’t I do the same for my ex? I absolutely still pray for him, but I don’t pursue a relationship. That choice comes from the need for safe boundaries, away from manipulation. It has nothing to do with my rejection of him but is a consequence of his rejection of me. But still, the differences don’t stop me from seeing some similarities and stepping away from the bitterness of their response.
We can’t know others’ motivation or follow through. But we can be familiar with our own. We can focus on and through prayer with as pure intentions as possible. We’ll still struggle. We’ll still forget. We’ll still struggle to pray in pure ways.
But we can try, right?