Praying for someone or for a situation is a common Christian practice. Prayer brings us into solidarity with one another, but it also is a confessional posture. Praying for someone often suggests a powerlessness to a situation and that we pray that God may intervene. Prayer is a powerful practice that bathes the Christian life and it is good a right thing to pray for people.
My co-pastor and wife showed the Brene Brown clip making the distinction between sympathy and empathy. Brown points out that sympathy is a noble thing, but sympathy is something that one feels at a distance from another. When a tragedy strikes we send our sympathies. These are well intentions, but sympathy can only get one so far. Which is why Brown points out the need for empathy.
Empathy is that posture of being with someone who is in the pit or dark night. Empathy requires that we sit with another. That we move toward them and be with them. Empathy is with another while sympathy is for another.
Christians are called to pray for people to be sure, however Christians have the greater call to pray with people. In order to pray with people we have to move to where the people are. We have to go out into the world and not just pray at our dinner tables for the world. We are to pray with the dying not just for those on hospice. We are to pray with the prisoner not just for the incarcerated.
I am comfortable praying for people but praying with people has changed my life.