How many times has someone you’re friends with on social media posted a request for prayers? It happens to me pretty much on a daily basis. And of course, I always respond with something like “praying for you”. Sometimes though, that just doesn’t feel like enough. As an introvert, it’s difficult sometimes for me to take it beyond that. I get overwhelmed trying to think of the best way to help – or more precisely, the best way to help that truly is helpful. I worry that I’ll be intrusive instead of offering assistance and comfort. And I worry that I will say the wrong things. So, sometimes a simple “I’ll pray for you” is the easy route out for me. But I can speak from experience – when we were in a car accident, the prayers of course were greatly appreciated. But tangible help offered up to us felt like prayer in action. So, here are some ideas of what to do besides saying I will pray for you:
What to Do Besides Saying I Will Pray for You
1. Offer to go grocery shopping or run other errands.
We had to exist on ordering takeout for a while after the accident and it was getting expensive and boring. My sister-in-law came to spend several weekends with us and while there, she would do a big grocery shopping for us and get us stocked up for the week to come.
2. Make some meals – even better if they are ones that can go in the freezer until needed.
Many people think to do this when someone dies but it is also incredibly helpful in other situations as well. We weren’t in any physical condition to prep food. Meals we could simply pop into the oven or slow cooker were a godsend.
3. Offer rides to appointments.
We couldn’t drive for quite some time after the accident. Yet, we had nearly non-stop doctors’ and physiotherapy and other appointments. The insurance company would provide transportation for some of these appointments but there were others that weren’t covered. Friends picking us up and taking us where we needed to go was a kindness in many ways.
4. Ask to come over and clean their house. Or do some laundry.
Or if you only have a little time, simply offer to do one small task. Again, the insurance company provided us with cleaners to do the major cleaning but having my sister-in-law put fresh sheets on my bed every weekend was a little luxury that made such a difference in how I felt.
5. Babysit the kids.
In our case, we weren’t able to go anywhere other than appointments so we weren’t in need of babysitting but it can be such a blessing to those who need it. Maybe an overwhelmed mom just needs some time to herself. Or maybe a couple in crisis just needs some time alone together. In our case, people offered to drive my daughter to and from school for us. They arranged fun outings to take her on so she could still have some fun (because being at home with people in constant pain wasn’t much fun at all).
6. Call them up and offer to talk. Or if you live close enough, ask them to go on a walk.
Be that person who listens while they unburden themselves. Hug them (if they want to be hugged). Pray with them and over them right there in person. Be the person who goes beyond social media with their physical presence.
7. Bring something to them they can no longer take part in.
After my accident, members of my church would come to me to bless me with holy water and anoint me with oil. They would bring the Eucharist to me. They would bring recordings of the most recent Mass and bulletins from church so I could stay up to date. The priest even came to take my confession and offer me the rite of reconciliation right in my own home. You could bring Bible study, quilting group, book club, anything to the home of the person who can’t attend. I would have loved to have been able to participate in any of those even while on bed rest!
8. Ask your friend what they need help with.
If they’re like me, they’ll probably be afraid of imposing and say “nothing”. Try again. Let them know that you sincerely want to help and they might just take you up on it.
Don’t let this list leave you feeling inadequate or intimidated. Prayer IS a powerful gift and there’s nothing wrong with leaving it at that. Even the simple act of taking the time to say “I’ll pray for you” is in itself a small prayer. And if you are too far away or simply too busy to offer more than that, you can extend it beyond those many “praying” messages they are receiving from others. Simply follow up a few days later with a text or private message – “still have you in my prayers”. Knowing that they haven’t been forgotten can be deeply touching.