As a pastor’s wife and the mother of a child with autism, I often hear the words, I am praying for you. It seems to be everyone’s go to words when they don’t know what else to say.
Sick? …. I am praying for you.
Lost your job?… I am praying for you.
Hurting?… I am praying for you.
I can’t help but wonder how many people really mean it. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the power of prayer. I truly appreciate all the individuals who are genuinely praying for my son and my family, but genuine, heartfelt prayer is more than a one sided conversation with God. It involves, listening, seeking, and obedience. Ahh…. There is the part that might trip people up. It is so easy to ask God to make a difference in the life of a special needs family (or anyone we are praying for), but what about asking God if there is a role for you to play in that difference?
Special needs families are struggling. They need for people to do more than just ask God to help, they need people who are willing to ask God “what can I do?”. Hmm… this is where everyone starts making excuses. I have my own family to care for, I am busy with work, I can’t. Stop. Listen. Obey.
Maybe God wants you to encourage. I recently received a note from someone telling me she thought I was a great mom. She didn’t pity me. She didn’t judge me. She respected me. I can’t tell you how much that meant. Stop. Listen. Obey.
Maybe God wants you to help with a financial need. It is expensive to raise a child with special needs. Therapies, special schools, doctor bills…. It adds up and many families of children with disabilities have to do it on one income. Stop. Listen. Obey.
Maybe God wants you to reach out to the siblings of the special needs child. They are often making due without a lot of extra attention.Take them out for pizza. Offer to take them to the park. Stop. Listen. Obey.
Maybe God wants you to help with everyday tasks that often are neglected because mom or dad is just too tired. Offer to help with household chores, cook a meal, shovel the sidewalks. Stop. Listen. Obey.
Maybe God wants you to simply offer your own time and friendship. Make a phone call to let the family know you are thinking about them or better yet, invite the family over for dinner. It has been at least two years since anyone other than immediate family has asked my family over. I can’t begin to tell you how lonely that becomes. Stop. Listen. Obey.
Maybe God wants you to help the family attend church. Offer to sit as a “buddy” with the special needs child in Sunday School. If you are a Children’s Church worker, ask what you can do to accommodate so the child can attend. Maybe God just simply wants you to let the individual and family know you are glad they are there. There is a lady in our church who stops my son every week to tell him she is glad he is there and gives him a dollar for being a good boy. I seriously doubt my son understands the value of money, but what he does understand is that someone cares about him and is glad he is at church. Stop. Listen. Obey.
Maybe God will ask you to do something big, or maybe it will be something small. Either way, you have an opportunity to make a difference. So, the next time you tell someone you will pray for them (whatever their need is), be sure you really mean it and then, take it one step further. Stop. Listen. Obey.