Remix – #53. Saying "I'll pray for you" and then not.

Sometimes, saying “I’ll pray for you” is just the Christian equivalent of ending a date by saying “I’ll give you a call.” It shouldn’t be, in a dating situation you usually tell the person you’ll give them a call because you’re all out of words and the night needs some sort of punctuation. You know deep down you will not be giving that person a call, but they are just standing there, and they weren’t a horrible date, just not the right person for you.

So you’re faced with two choices โ€“ either you throw your house keys and hope that the moonlight reflecting off the key chain blinds them and the sound distracts them allowing you to escape inside or you tell them, “I’ll give you a call.” And since you need your keys for getting in the house, that option isn’t great, unless you carry a spare set of “bad date keys” but then you have to wonder, how many bad dates are you going on that you had a special set of keys made just to throw?

Instead you say, “‘I’ll give you a call” because it’s easier that way. Or maybe we mean it at the time. Maybe we intend to call that person, but life gets busy and we just forget. I think that’s similar to what happens when we say “I’ll pray for you.”

Right now I have about a 17% success rate when it comes to actually following through on my “I’ll pray for you” statements. I know that’s horrible, but it’s a ten year average and from 1996 โ€“ 2004 I was batting about 0%. I’ve done better these last two years to pull up my average but you know what they say about prayer statistics, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” (I think there was an analogy traffic jam in that paragraph, whoa.)

But what if there was a better way? What if instead of saying “I’ll pray for you” and then not, we could all do something else? What if we learned five new ways to end a Christian conversation without saying, “I’ll pray for you?” I think we should.

Five new things to say instead of “I’ll pray for you.”

1. “Here, have some pocket candy.”
Conversations, much like Saturday Night Live skits, are often difficult to end. What started out funny and enjoyable just kind of slowly deteriorates until you’re both standing there saying, “so yeah, that’s what’s going on.” I think it might be nice, when you sense that a conversation has lost its momentum and it’s time to move on, if you offered the person you’re talking with some pocket candy. Instead of saying, “I’ll pray for you,” you could say, “I need to go now, but I’d like to leave you with these hard candies. Here, have some pocket candy.” Everyone loves candy, and even if they don’t, they’ll be too stunned to really say anything as you fill their hands with delicious treats instead of an empty promise to pray for them.

2. “Razzle Dazzle, Razzle Dazzle.”
This one makes no sense and that’s kind of the point. It’s just really fun to say, and at the bare minimum, it will be awkwardly funny. Just imagine if your friend says, “so anyway, that’s what’s going on, not much else, whatever” and you reply, “Razzle Dazzle man, Razzle Dazzle.” (Bonus points if you combine this one with #1 and actually give your friend a handful of Razzles, the candy that turns into a gum. Remember that stuff? It somehow managed to suck as both a gum and a candy. Phenomenal.)

3. “I’m sorry, I can’t multiply the funk.”
Occasionally, a friend will ask you to pray for something that you completely disagree with. They’re in a funk right now and if what they’re praying for came true, the funk would be multiplied. Maybe they’re in a horrible relationship and they’re praying they’ll get married or they’re trying to quit their 47th job that year and when they ask you to pray for a new one you can’t do anything but shot block it. You don’t want to, it won’t feel loving at the time, but you don’t want to multiply the funk by praying for something you adamantly feel like God is clearly against. So be upfront and work in a little George Clinton/Prince type language to soften the blow.

4. “That’s interesting.”
If you’ve ever worked in a corporation, you’ve heard this phrase. This term is so large and undefined that when someone shows you an idea at work you can say “that’s interesting” and it can mean everything from, “I like that idea, I think we should turn it into a project” to “that is the worst idea I have ever heard in my life.” Try it today, you can use it in almost any situation. Someone spills a coke in your computer keyboard, “that’s interesting, the vowels don’t work anymore.” Someone offers to give you a raise and an office with a door, “that’s interesting, I would like a promotion.” It’s great for work and is a pretty handy “I’ll pray for you” replacement. Not because it’s a dishonest phrase but because it buys you time to gather your thoughts and reflect on the conversation instead of just throwing out an instant “I’ll pray for you.”

5. “Let’s pray right now.”
Rock the PRT, Prayer Right There, if you really want to pray. Don’t let the push and pace of life swallow the request. Even if you write a prayer request down, you might lose that piece of paper or have your wife throw it away because she thought it was trash even though it also had a great book idea on it. Hypothetically speaking of course. So just pray. Or if that feels weird, pray while you walk away or drive away or Ruckus away, if you are so lucky to own a Honda Ruckus scooter. (I love that word, “ruckus.” That’s what I want to do with God, create a ruckus and the idea of creating a ruckus while at the same time riding a scooter named Ruckus makes my head spin.)

If we ever have the chance to hang out and we find that our conversation starts drawing to a close, and neither of us knows what to say, I hope you’ll say, “Razzle Dazzle” and hand me some Razzles. Because even though itโ€™s a sucky candy and then a sucky gum, it’s still free candy, and hey, I like free candy a lot more than fake “I’ll pray for you” shout outs.

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  1. Daniel James says

    So, I was wondering if you would let me use this razzle dazzle phrase. It is awesome!

  2. says

    My Mum taught me her secret tool of awesomeness to combat this all-too-common problem. Basically, if you tell someone you're going to pray for them, you do it….right there. On the spot.

    As soon as the other person starts to respond, you set your head-nodding/affirming murmur faculties to 'Autopilot', mentally check out and offer up a quick, explosive "energy blast" prayer. Right about the time when they're winding up their turn at talking, you're finished and resume the conversation with something vaguely applicable, based on the few snips of verbage that filtered in while you were praying.

    Is this sneaky? Undoubtedly. Bordering on rude, even. But forced to choose between this maneuver and the alternative (forgetting to pray for them at all), this one is the clear winner. Even if you totally forget to take their burdens before sweet baby Jesus ever again, you will still have kept your word and prayed for them at least once.

  3. says

    Get razzles to advertise your book since you advertised them on your blog at no charge to them. Razzle dazzle man, razzle dazzle!

    Launch a 'metrosexual worship leader' line of scarves and hair gel, or get a Christian clothing company to produce a deep-v neck tshirt with a quote from your DVS essay on the front (like just the titles of the 5 steps).

    Get Rob Bell to recommend your book frequently in his talks over his current tour (hey he's your Zondervan buddy… surely he should want to help you while he's plugging his own book).

    Get a flash mob together for a wreckless publicity stunt somewhere big . When the first whistle blows everyone takes off their jacket (revealing a lovely tee with an ad for your book and website on the back) and then side hugs someone else for 5 minutes (or any variation of this flash mob sort of thing would be cool).

    Get Zondervan to find you a song writer who can write a Christian Lady Gaga cover (which blatently plugs your book) and set it loose on Youtube and pray it goes viral…

    Wheeeey ๐Ÿ˜€

    • says

      This is posted under the wrong post and I don't know how (I think it was because I had multiple posts open at once. I'm reposting it where it should be, so feel free to delete this :)

  4. says

    Last Thursday I was catching up on posts that I had missed and I came across this one. I know I am guilty of the "Oh I'll pray for you" tactic for filling a quiet spot or to smooth over a potentially awkward moment. When I read this I asked God to help me put that into immediate use because I wanted to start practicing.

    Friday night one of my best friends called me and was asking me for directions from Lubbock, TX to Ruidoso, NM because he wasn't sure of the exact way. During his trip though, he ran into a snow storm, and he texted me asking me to pray for him. Yes, I know it's not advisable to text and drive, let alone do it during a snow storm.. So I said "Sure, yeah, I'll pray for you." And then, this post came to my mind and I was like, "I want him to know that I actually prayed for him."

  5. says

    So I sent him a text containing the simple prayer my dad always prays over me when I go on a roadtrip, sealed it with a "Matthew 18:19 (if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven). amen" I also ordered him to quit texting and driving.. He got there safely and I'm glad I was able to grow my prayer life even just a little bit by saying a 30 second prayer for him.

    So, all that to say this: I just wanted to say thank you for being able to cover both the serious topics and the humurous ones with ease. I always am able to gather something from the posts, and I love reading these things.

  6. Tamay says

    LMBO! Ok I've done the pocket candy (or bottom of the purse candy) thing. But I just love Razzle Dazzle, for some reason its similar to It is what it is. I personally don't like it is what it is for some reason because I'm asking myself and God sooo what is it?! I have on a couple of occasions done the PRT and hope that I made sense as I prayed and encouraged them. Remember Pop Rock candy, that works too.

  7. says

    so. i just got hooked on your blog. literally. my son is screaming and instead of going to see what he needs, yeah i'm reading your blog. and this is definitely one of my top 5. i literally almost peed my pants.

  8. michelleakiko says

    "that's interesting, the vowels don't work anymore."
    haha, my sister and i call each other's outfits or hairstyles "interesting" when we don't want to say they're ugly.

  9. Natalie says

    In the city I currently live in we have a cosmetology school called Razzle Dazzle College of Hair Design.
    Needless to say I think the name says it all.

    You are great by the way. I enjoy reading your stuff every morning while at work at 5 am. I recently discovered you and your writings have kept me well occupied, they have even given me an extra boost because most of the time it will make me laugh or smile and it really helps as I greet every person that walks in the door.
    So thanks for being funny and creative.

  10. says

    I am fairly certain that I LOVE this blog. Thank you for it. Not just for its high quality hilarity, but for its honesty. This needed to be brought to my attention. I can't speak for everyone else, but sometimes I say this and then completely forget. Not on purpose mind you. So, thanks a bunch. I really think I like option #5 of praying for them, but if its awkward, I must say that option #4 is a definite back up plan! lol

    I would also like to point out that I was T-Totally with you on the #2 option: RAZZLE DAZZLE.
    Dig it, fa sho!
    As I moved past option #1 and went to #2, before I even got into that point, I thought, "Kinda like the candy?"
    Haha! Great transition for so many reason. Gold star for you.
    And consequently, that really was a horrid candy….yet for some reason as a child, I continued to eat…
    C'est la vie…

  11. The Frenchie says

    One day I was talking with a man at Church, and he ended the conversation with “So that’s it, bleek bleek, blak blak, bluk bluk”, then smiled and went away.

  12. says

    I agree. I think prayer is powerful, and even more so when we stop in the midst of our daily lives to reach out to God right then and there. Besides, whenever two more more gather in His, name, He promises to be there… so aren’t our prayers more likely to be effective if we “rock the PRT” and pray together, rather than off by ourselves later on, if we remember to get around to it?

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