In the midst of great distress, some say that they no longer want “thoughts and prayers.” In the face of tragedy, these words may come across as an automatic reflex offering little comfort or real empathy. They may seem a weak substitute for the concrete action needed to address pressing problems. As one mother whose son died in a mass shooting says, “I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts. I want gun control.”
I get that. We need to go beyond thoughts and prayers to address violence, mental health, racism, poverty, sexual abuse, and other social ills that cause deep pain. We don’t need more excuses. We need real solutions to real problems.
Yet since my husband has now been in the hospital for almost five weeks, I know that we also need the many positive thoughts and prayers extended on our behalf. In the roller coaster of emotions as my husband’s condition seesaws up and down and up again, as we get close (again) to having him come home, I need others who hold us close in their thoughts. As I struggle to navigate the hospital system, I need others who say, “Advocating is hard work. But you can do it.” As I pray constantly, it’s a comfort to know that I am not alone as many others are praying too.
I also realize that it’s not easy to find the right words to express our love and care. Even as a pastor and writer, I don’t always know what to say to someone who is hurting. But over the last weeks, my husband and I have been on the receiving end of so many beautiful thoughts and prayers that have helped to carry us through this time.
A lightly edited selection appears below. If you’re going through a hard time, I pray these words might strengthen and comfort you. If you care for someone going through difficulty, may they inspire your own expressions of care.
Thoughts and Prayers
May you continue to experience God’s gracious presence as you walk these next steps.
Lord have mercy! Praying that you would feel God’s tender embrace.
Sending love and praying comfort and hope for you.
You remain in our thoughts and in our prayers, which are sometimes just those wordless cries for God’s mercy and grace to be with you.
May you sense the presence of the Lord every moment.
Blessings and grace to you.
Sending ongoing, loving thoughts.
Prayers and blessings to you. May you be lifted up knowing God is the head doctor.
Thinking of you and praying for God’s healing touch, comfort, and strength in your lives.
May the many prayers for healing sustain you.
May God surround you with His perfect peace. May He place His healing hand on you, and may you feel the love of those around you.
May God give you courage, hope, peace, and healing!
Praying for peace. You are surrounded by prayer and love.
Covering you and your husband in prayer as you navigate this trial. May he recover quickly and smoothly, and may you both find strength and peace in God’s provision and protection.
Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers: for support, healing, and good medicine.
Peace and grace to you on the journey.
May God draw you closer to Himself and to each other during this time, and bring healing from this distress. May God’s Spirit wrap you in warm blankets of comfort and renewing strength.
Prayers for you today, for the peace that passes all understanding.
May you both sense God very near!
Prayers of healing for this next part of your journey together.
We are saddened to learn that you are in the hospital. We are praying for a good recovery and return home. COVID keeps us all distant, but we are with you both in spirit.
Praying for both of you to be carried close to God now and in the days to come.
You are in our thoughts and prayers! Jesus can speak peace into a storm is our reassurance.
May the God of all comfort be evident during these days.
May the Lord give you strength day by day.
Sending healing thoughts and prayers!!! Love and hugs!! Prayers for healing for him, and prayers for strength for you. Please God, give strength and care as they go down this next road. Give guidance and expertise to the medical personnel.
I’m praying for you both and for wisdom for the doctors. Praying for healing and the best possible outcome.
“In the prison courtyard here there is a thrush which sings a beautiful little song every morning, and now he has started in the evening too. One is grateful for little things, and that also is a gain.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Prisoner for God. I hope you find joys of whatever size today. I hope they lift your spirits.
“The Christian faith makes it possible for us nobly to accept that which cannot be changed, to meet disappointments and sorrow with an inner poise, and to absorb the most intense pain without abandoning our sense of hope, for we know, as Paul testified, in life or in death. . .’that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.'” – Martin Luther King Jr., “Shattered Dreams,” Strength to Love, page 95
Words of Scripture
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
– Numbers 6:24-26, New King James Version
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
– Psalm 30:2, New Revised Standard Version
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
– Psalm 57:1, New International Version
I am thy God: I will strengthen thee . . .
I will help thee,
– Isaiah 41:10, King James Version
Therefore stop worrying about tomorrow,
because tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
– Matthew 6:34, Common English Bible
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
through wordless groans.
– Romans 8:26, New International Version
stand firm in your faith,
– 1 Corinthians 16:13, New Revised Standard Version
We continue to pray that you will be
“strengthened with all power
according to his glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience.”
– Colossians 1:11, New International Version
Writing/Reflection Prompt: In what ways do you find comfort in the “thoughts and prayers” of others?
For more on writing and other acts of faith,