Are you one of those people who always answers "I'm OK" when someone asks how you are? Perhaps it seems too personal to say something like "I'm having a bad time of it ..." since they may ask you to tell them more. On the other hand often, in my experience, people use this question as a throw away, they don't really want to know how you feel but it makes them feel better to have asked and anyway if you told them you are not doing well, they might not know how to cope with that.
If you are someone who asks the question not expecting an answer, how do you handle someone who tells you that life is not good or they have some illness or problem to face? Do you wilt under the barrage and cut down the conversation moving on to someone else as quickly as possible or respond with platitudes like "it's OK it can only get better" or "I know someone much worse off .." or do you ask them more, listening with a sense of care?
Its not easy to get it right but perhaps having a right attitude to both the asking after someone or responding to the question would help us all to engage better with each other, not getting or giving a life history of troubles but simply responding to a genuine question with some reality which allows sharing of issues and joys.
When someone in church says in response "I will pray for you" - do you expect them to do anything? I do, I am an optimist at heart and want to find the and see the best in everyone, if they say I will pray for you in that situation, I trust that they will.
Paul in letters he wrote to churches says "pray continually" and "... and always keep on praying for all the saints", reminding them and us that prayer is serious, talking with God for that person and their situation is a privilege not a duty or a bore. We should neither promise what we won't follow up on nor turn from offering to walk with that person in prayer or allow others to walk with us in prayer.
So in the same way that I expect others to pray for me, I pray for them, keeping a note of who I am praying for and why for my daily prayer time. For me offering prayer is not an excuse to do nothing and pass on, it is a way to actively participate in a persons situation and life, bringing them before God and asking him to transform their situation or thanking him for the good things in that persons life.