Why “Thoughts and Prayers”?


After a tragedy of some scale, whehter it’s a mass shooting or some natural disaster, it seems we always hear people offering their thoughts and prayers  to the survivors and/or their families and depending on the circumstances to the community as a whole. Why do we hear this, which is especially common from the media?

Of course, it’s a way of expressing condolances to those affected by any disaster, and it’s just become part of the lexicon that we hear from public officials and those in the media, those words, which mean absolutely nothing.

So what do we say to those we know that have had a tragic loss of faamily or friends? It really is up to the individual and , this may seem heartless, depends on what the situation was at the time. It’s difficult, I’ve been through it , it seems countless times in my life and there never seems to be the roght words to convey my sympathies.  A family member that’s died after a long illness, someone that’s passed tragically in a traffic accident, or through a natural disaster, as those 50 (as of this writing) in the fires in California.

It depends on that situation and how close you are to the person you are expressing concern for but I don’t see offering thoughts and prayer as having much consolation for anyone, in any situation. I wish people would just stop using that phrase, especialy in the media. There are other ways to express sympathy personally, and we should all be morew thoughtful before we use any of them.

5 thoughts on “Why “Thoughts and Prayers”?

  1. I have dropped the “prayers” part of the statement and just say “our thoughts are with you” and I get dirty looks like people are waiting for me to add the prayer piece and of course I don’t.


  2. I haven’t added any prayer bit since …uh…actually, even when I was a Christian, I don’t think I ever said such a thing. Just, “I will be thinking of you.”

    Obviously, the media and elected officials and anybody speaking for more people than just themselves say “thoughts and prayers” because they are speaking for more than just themselves.

    In a “Christian nation” it would be difficult for our President to do otherwise, if he were a person who did not believe in prayer. But still, that particular phrase is very meaningful to those who are being kept in “thoughts and prayers” and why risk disturbing any person who feels they need “thoughts and prayers” and who may feel it helps them?

    It is a compassionate phrase in our culture and in our time. I know that my dear Christian friends actually are praying for me and that is okay with me, because they are my friends. They know that when I say the “thought or thinking” phrase, that I am doing so, because we are friends.

    The phrase bugs some atheists as much as “Merry Christmas” does, but the terrible harm some think it does is, in the end, not of much meaning. Well, that is my opinion, anyway.


    • I am not sure Merry Christmas ‘bugs’ anyone, unless they are looking for something to complain about. I say it to people or back to people often. I also say Happy Holidays or Happy Chanukah. Sometimes that does bother them. If it not Christmas day, I use the holidays greeting. It is a day, have a merry one.
      But I do see thoughts and prayers as useless, and may even be a cop-out instead of doing something. Shall I send my thoughts and prayers to folks in trouble, or some other form of practical aid? (see meme) It is harmless, but it is also pointless. Kind of like the man choking, “would you like me to pray or do the Heimlich maneuver?”


  3. The phrase hardly means that no action is being taken to aid, but aid is not always needed, and if and when it is needed, it is not always necessary for every single person to become active.

    I don’t have to hover at the hospital when my friend has surgery, but she knows I am thinking of her and that many are praying for her, which helps her to be brave and positive, which are important things when facing scary surgery.

    Sending monetary donations is certainly helpful, but knowing that others are thinking of you, empathizing with your plight and praying for you is important when the struggle gets real.

    Your example is an extreme and not at all realistic of the phrase’s sentiments.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s