When friends get together, we laugh about all kinds of things. We laugh when someone says something funny and we laugh when someone says something stupid. We laugh with and at each other simultaneously. The nature of friendship is such that we know one other’s  flaws. Part of the way we cope with them is through laughter. A long time ago, my brother, Rick introduced me to the “courtesy laugh” – a tool I employ with my friends at every opportunity.

Let’s say that you just said something that you thought was absolutely hilarious, but no one else found it to be even remotely funny. This is a ripe occasion for a “courtesy laugh.” One of your very good friends would show you grace by laughing enthusiastically on your behalf, but just as you are enjoying this laugh and beginning to revel in your great sense of humor, your very good friend abruptly stops laughing, changes his expression to one of patronization, and then says, “courtesy laugh.”

The typical response is some very authentic and enthusiastic laughing by all those present, at your expense.

Please note that this is only acceptable within the confines of close friendships – outside of this realm you may suffer  unexpected bodily pain.

15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:15-16)

The other day, someone was hurting. Their heart broken.  They asked for prayer. I was busy. I whipped out the “courtesy prayer.” Unlike a “courtesy laugh”, the “courtesy prayer” typically never takes place. We promise to pray, but not right now. Unfortunately, we tend to never get around to praying as we promised. The “courtesy prayer” is a pacifier without remedy.

Hi, my name is Herb, and I am a recovering “courtesy pray-er.” I fell off the wagon yesterday.

13 thoughts on “courtesy.prayer”

  1. Oh yeah, very familiar with both scenarios. I’ve sort of trained myself that when someone sends me an email or tweet requesting prayer, I stop and do it right then in sincerity otherwise I may forget totally. I used to do this all the time and like you, it bugged me.

    Thanks Herb- great post.

    1. Yeah, text-messages, tweets, emails – I usually prayer right then too (sometimes I still fail). But it’s the face-to-face while I’m on the run that I most struggle with. Thanks, Jason.

  2. It is interesting when I offer to pray right at that moment. For most people there is a sense of relief or even a feeling of acceptance. Then there are those who used the prayer request as a way to gossip or whine about something. After a few times of praying on the spot, the latter seem to stop asking for prayer.

  3. Hi, I am Ryan and I a recovering courtesy prayer too. Thank you for the reminder that people matter to God. And I need to slow down to make people matter most to me too.

  4. I’m a recovering courtesy pray-er too. I first realized I had a problem when I was working at the car lot and I told another salesman I would pray for him. (non-believer) He immediately asked if I was just saying that or if I would really do it.

  5. I try to make a point when someone asks for prayer whether it be on the phone, text message, email, or even in person, to pray with them right away. I am gulity at times, especially at church, when someone ask for prayer that I tend to be in a hurry or something and say I will pray for them, and I forget. If we would just make it a habit to stop what we are doing right away, and take a moment to pray for that person, what a dfference it would make.

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