However, many people have polished this language now to be more honest and be real. It is rather popular now to say that ‘you will be in my thoughts’ than ‘in my prayers.’ That helps us to bail ourselves out of the guilt of not praying.
A promise of prayer is sometimes the best way to dismiss responsibility. Many times when we approach authorities and they say that they will pray about it, you can go home pretty sure that you are not going to get it! The language is so corrupt, it is something to hide behind and to dismiss the action.
However, Jesus seems to have given it a new meaning in Matthew 9:38. On his return from preaching the Kingdom of God in the various villages and towns in Galilee, he told his disciples what he saw over there. He had compassion on them since they were helpless like sheep without the shepherd. He also said that the people are ready for the goodnews of the Kingdom. Then he asked them to pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’ (Matt 9:38).
However, they did not have a prayer meeting after that! In the following verses (which is continuous with the previous, though in a new chapter) Jesus called them and sent them out to the fields that are ‘ready for the harvest.’
What do we make out of this? When Jesus said ‘pray’ to send, he really meant be ready to go! For Jesus, praying is preparation for going and nothing less. It is not praying that people other than the one who pray will go. It is a prayer where the one who prays gets ready to go.
This leads us to conclude that when we pray for something we take up the responsibility for that. For example, when we pray for the poor, we also take up the responsibility to do something about their poverty. Then we may pray for what is beyond our capacity having done what we can. Jesus, when he asks us to pray intends that we get involved first.