Origin and Meaning of ‘Thoughts and Prayers’
While offering condolences has been commonplace throughout time, using the phrase “thoughts and prayers” appears to have become more prevalent as social media has taken over our communication in the past few years.
With the uptick of mass shootings over the past 20 years, those left with a feeling of helplessness have shared the phrase to express empathy over the tragedy. “Thoughts and prayers” has become a cliché to verbally show concern for tragic events.
The meaning of the phrase is letting someone know you are thinking about them as they grieve and praying for those involved. It is a way to express compassion for those who are hurting.
Biblical Significance of ‘Thoughts and Prayers’
The exact phrase “thoughts and prayers” is not actually in the Bible, it is a cliché or an overused term. Christians should be careful when taking a cliché and trying to fit it into Scripture when it is not actually there. Even though the exact phrase is not present, the connotation is a biblical practice.
The phrase denotes compassion which is a character quality of Jesus Christ that we can emulate. This takes the phrase, “My thoughts and prayers are with you” to a higher level, as Jesus not only verbally expressed compassion, he demonstrated it. Jesus had compassion for the sick, lame, hungry, and ostracized. Throughout the gospels, Jesus expressed His compassion by caring for individuals who were afflicted.
In Matthew 9:35-36 (CSB), Jesus traveled the area preaching and healing. He felt compassion for the “distressed and dejected.” His compassion moved him to heal and share the gospel with them.
In Matthew 14:14-21, Jesus’ compassion prompted him to heal and feed thousands of men, women, and children. Jesus not only held them in his thoughts, he also acted on his compassion and served them.
Jesus also modeled praying for those he had compassion for. In John 17, at the last Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus spent time praying for them. He loved these friends he had spent the last three years with, teaching and ministering.
Jesus was about to be arrested and put to death on the cross. He chose to pray for his friends who would witness these events and feel overwhelming fear and sadness. Jesus prayed for their protection for whatever persecution they may face. He also asked God that they would be sanctified or set apart by God’s truth.
Jesus continued to pray for all believers that may believe in him through the words of the disciples. He prays that God’s love would be poured out to all of those who would come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ compassion for mankind led him to act on his compassion through healing, serving, and prayer.
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