Are you thinking or praying? Why the difference matters

A few years ago, a friend of mine received a tragic cancer diagnosis. As this mother of three labored through her arduous chemo schedule, I talked with her burdened and exhausted husband, who was a colleague of mine at the time. He lamented that loved ones didn’t know what to say to him about their current life circumstance. Of course, he totally understood, but I could tell the whole situation was taking a toll on him. He was working full time, had three kids in school, was taking care of his wife who was unable to pitch in as normal, on top of interacting with so many friends and family who, like all of us, just wanted his wife to be healed. “Sometimes,” he said, “people tell me that they’re thinking about my wife and our family.” He followed, “Knowing that someone is thinking about us doesn’t really help too much. We desperately need prayer.” Thinking vs. Praying I think we all agree there is a huge difference between thinking about something in our minds and bringing someone’s name before the King who sits on the throne. My friend wanted people to offer up prayer to the One who has the power to save. He knew the significance and power of that conversation. I know what we often mean when we say that we’re thinking about someone or a situation. But prayer is so much bigger and demonstratively more powerful than our human thoughts! I mean prayer isn’t a conversation that simply happens in my head. It's not a positive thinking, self-help session in my brain. Most Christians wouldn’t use the word thinking in place of praying. But, does our prayer life indicate that we really know the difference between thinking deeply about something and approaching the Lord in prayer?