The purpose of prayer is to draw close to the heart of God, to be entrenched in the Father’s presence, and to be one with the love of Christ.
If someone asks you for prayer, that is what they are yearning for whether they’re aware of it or not. To be closer, feel protected and safe, and to know they have hope. They’re not praying to you. You are not their Savior. They’re crying out to a God they either do or don’t believe in.
So let us respond in such a way that acknowledges that. Instead of “I’ll pray for you”, how about we supply what they are lacking by reminding them of God’s faithful promises. Supply it right then and there, not later. Not future tense “oh ya, I’ll keep that in my prayers” (as well intentioned as that is), but instead in present tense “let me pray with you now”.
You can shoot a prayer over text message. You can do it via email or over the phone. You can certainly do it in person accompanied with the laying of hands. A hurting soul desires to feel seen, known and loved. They’ll experience that with depth, not with hallow words.
Maybe we get away with “I’ll pray for you” because we’re actually unsure of encouraging godly truths ourselves. In that case, we need to know we can love others more holistically emulating Christ if we are more committed to Him in our individual walks. Committed to know knowing, studying and meditating on His scriptures. That way, we are firm in our foundation of our own identity before reminding someone else’s of theirs.
You have to know, believe and understand God’s truth for yourself before you can go lavish it well on another. Let this be an admonishment for us all. Ceaseless prayer should be what we do; being one with the Father should be who we are.