I sat crumpled on the floor of my kitchen, mascara streaming down my face – the only makeup I could wear. Painful red patches, cracked and bleeding, spread from my mouth to my cheeks to my chin, across my forehead and down my neck. The pain was unbearable.
At one a.m., I woke up to the same burning sensation across my face and stumbled to the kitchen for another ice pack. I opened my phone, the bright screen lighting up the darkness.
I’m praying for you, friend.
A simple text, but just what I needed at that hour of the night; in that dark moment for my soul. I blinked back tears.
I used to think things like “I’m praying for you” fell rather flat when my friends were suffering. They seemed so trite… so empty. Sure, I KNEW prayer accomplished things. I knew positive words could uplift a spirit. But would me offering to pray really put courage into a hurting friend? As someone currently walking through a season of physical pain, I can assure you these words have meaning. More than that – they have the power to equip your suffering friend for the road ahead.
Put Courage Into Her
To “encourage” literally means to “put courage into”. When we seek to encourage a friend we’re literally pouring courage into her spirit for the circumstances she’s in. What a powerful gift to give! But sometimes we haven’t walked that road ourselves; then what?
This is where prayer comes in. When we don’t know what to pray or what to say, God does. So our prayers on behalf of others (our intercession!) are a way for God to pour courage through us and into them. We get to be part of God’s work in their lives when we partner with Him in prayer!
Our words have power too. You might never have experienced an autoimmune skin disease, but I bet you’ve walked through hard things. And even if you haven’t, the Word of God is applicable to any and all situations. You can share God’s truth, and by doing so, speak life to others. Some of the most meaningful messages I have received are passages of Scripture brought to mind as someone prayed for me. Other times it’s a word or picture the person felt impressed to share as they were lifting me up to God. The combination of prayer and true, kind, uplifting words is powerful for weakness. Don’t underestimate it!
It Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
I’m learning, through the people who have poured courage into me in this season, that putting courage into others doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as a late night text: I am thinking of and praying for you. Just knowing that people were bringing me before God’s throne of grace gave me the motivation to keep going through the pain.
Don’t be scared to reach out because you don’t have the right words or because you haven’t experienced the exact situation. Don’t be afraid to speak what God has spoken to your heart about your friend. Don’t be afraid to send your encouragement and not get an answer – you never know how impactful your words may have been in your friend’s dark season.
Share your courage. We need it.
Phylicia Masonheimer is an author, speaker, and founder of Driven Women. She teaches strong-hearted women how to follow Christ’s call in work, home, and the world. She writes about the Bible, productivity, and sexuality on her website, and her book on biblical sex can be found here: Christian Cosmo: The Sex Talk You Never Had. She lives with her husband and daughters in northern Michigan.