A simple tip when comforting others: Don’t try to be profound

2 Corinthians 1:3–5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Christians are uniquely equipped to comfort others, and it is one of the great gifts you can give to your friends.

We can get tongue-tied when trying to comfort others, as we don’t know what to say or we may fear that we’ll say the wrong thing.  A friend asked me how to approach someone who had been diagnosed with cancer because he was worried about saying the wrong thing.  He asked me because he knew my cancer history.  My advice was to just be there and keep it simple.  More than that, I encouraged him not to feel like he had to say something profound.  That really resonated with him and took the pressure off.  He had felt like he had to say something that would make it all better. 

So here’s my simple advice for illnesses, deaths or other hardships: Don’t try to be profound and all-encompassing.  Just listen and love.  Ask how they are feeling.  Offer to do specific things for them There is a big difference between “Let me know if I can do anything” and “What specifically can I do to help you?” But don’t let your fear of saying the wrong thing keep you from reaching out.

Prayer Mate App

The Prayer Mate app is a key part of my daily devotional routine, which currently looks like this:

Morning

  1. Read a page from The Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers.  These guys were intense and motivating.
  2. Go through my PrayerMate app.  I have it set up with various categories, such as adoration, confession, gratitude, family, church, evangelism, current requests, etc., so I get a mix of prayer topics each day. 
  3. Read a chapter of the Bible plus commentary notes.  I love the chronological Bible reading plan or a plan that rotates between genres (i.e., the Pentateuch, history, Psalms, Proverbs, Gospel, letters, etc.).  This gets me through the Bible every 1.5 – 2 years.  When I finish, I start afresh the next day. 
  4. Work through some memory verses on the Bible Memory app.  Some days I do more than others.  If I have downtime during the day I’ll go through verses then as well.

Evening

  1. Read another chapter of the Bible plus commentary notes.

I’m not good at “freestyle” praying. Having an app like this gives me the structure I need. It also reminds me to check in on people for whom I’ve been praying. You can easily add categories and individual prayer items. Best of all, it is free!