There was a tragic event in the area yesterday in which three people were killed in an accident on the way to their church. The company whose truck caused the accident put out a statement which included the phrase, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.” That phrase seems to have become the common cliche whenever some tragedy occurs. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the grieving.”
I don’t know if I’m just being nitpicky, but that phrase bugs me. First of all, I’m not sure what it even means that our thoughts go out to someone–just that we’re thinking of them? And much more importantly, our prayers go out to God, not to any person. Are we too uncomfortable to actually speak God’s name? Is prayer mentioned just as a way of sounding generically spiritual or religious?
Putting the best construction on this, what people probably mean to say, of course, is that those who lost loved ones are in their thoughts and in their prayers. How that got contorted into such bad English and bad theology, I don’t know. Why can’t we just say what we mean? “Our hearts ache for the family in their loss. We are thinking of them in this difficult time and are praying to God for them.” May the peace of Christ the crucified be granted to all the grieving.