This is a serious question; what do you do when the person you’re trying to help doesn’t want you to pray for them? Some people I know would get very defensive and an argument is inevitable. What is it that sets someone so on edge about someone wanting to pray for them? Is it because they don’t believe? Do they think it’s silly? I speak only for myself when I say that it is simply because we haven’t seen anyone follow through with it; the actions they stated in the prayer, nor the compassion they spoke of in the prayer. When I told my youth pastor I had attempted to kill myself he offered to pray for me and I refused. He didn’t get upset, he didn’t argue; he offered me a hug. Something I could feel immediately. Something that I didn’t hear as a polite way to make me go away quickly. For a while now ‘I’ll pray for you’ has been interpreted as the Christian way to say ‘Piss off, I don’t have time for you’. Why? That’s easy; because today, when we pray, we rarely act on it. Any of it. To someone who is ‘stable’, doesn’t contemplate suicide, doesn’t hear voices, isn’t depressed, doesn’t live with being Bipolar, ‘I’ll pray for you’ is the sweetest thing in the world. To someone trapped in the world of their mind, that same sentence means ‘You’ll get over it’ or ‘I don’t really care, but it isn’t polite to say that out loud’.
I’m not saying not to pray for someone. I’m saying that when you do, they need more than just your pretty words. Hug them before you offer prayer. Sit with them; listen to them. You can’t pray for someone’s mind without knowing at least a tiny piece of what it’s like in there. This may sound weird, but we have to change the way we think of prayer. It can’t just be something you do to take the pressure off of you, it has to be something you do because you’re willing to share this person’s burden; help them let off some that weight. Don’t just say a prayer; be a prayer. They need you. Your arms to hold them, your hands to guide them, your legs to stand with them, your eyes to see them, your ears to hear them… It’s not all in your voice. So, I’ll ask again; what do you do when the person you want to help refuses prayer?