I've heard a lot of people express their outright hatred for "I'll be thinking of you in spirit." No one, after all, does think about people in spirit, and the phrase really makes little sense. It's just polite. I see it as a half truth; kind of like when you say "Hello. How are you?" If you’re like me you probably don't even honestly want to know how they are half the time.
There is a phrase that I do detest; it's the phrase, "I'll be praying for you." It's one thing when you say a half lie that is only bound to Earth, but it's another when you bring an act that should be Holy into it.
That's not to say I think it's bad to pray for something or someone; it is to say that half the time people either say it in vain or at inappropriate times.
Consider this: you’re at church, there's a mother who is telling another mother about how they have a doctor’s appointment and they have no one to pick up their kids, and on top of that they don't have enough money to go to the grocery store; and this is the reply that came from the other mother's mouth: I'll be praying for you.
I have seen this scenario played out too many times. I'm not perfect, and I'm nowhere near a saint, but I don't offer prayers where prayers shouldn't be given. In the case above, a prayer was a nice gesture, but not what this woman needed--she needed someone to pick up her kids, and buy her some groceries.
It disturbs me how many people not in the world, but in our own Christian family hurt and suffer and all people do is say that they'll pray for them.
When there's someone who is obviously suffering, our first thought shouldn’t be about prayer; it should be about love and compassion. Before we get to the prayer part, we should first try and help them with the need part.
If a person wants a prayer, I'll give them one; but before I offer it, I always clear up if that is in fact what they want.
I have heard all kinds of reports suggesting that people who pray live longer lives and our overall happier. This may be, but I don't believe it's prayer that's doing that--I think it's love. It's when the prayer comes from a person who’s not giving an obligatory gesture, but when the person is honestly concerned about their well-being; people are healthier and happier because they know there's people who love them, and they are able to see God in this love.
Every time I hear the phrase abused, all I can think is how much stronger the church would be if people did not ask "Can I pray for you" and asked instead "What can I do for you?"