A while back I read the book Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit by River Jordan, and at the time I had no idea how that book would impact my life. The book is about the 2009 New Year’s Resolution of an introverted woman whose sons were about to go off to war. Her quest for comfort and to keep her own sanity in the face of every parents nightmare, led to the idea for the perfect resolution–to pray for a complete stranger every day for the following year.
While it seems like such a small act of faith, it grew her faith huge. It became more than a resolution to River, but an exploration of, and journey into, the human spirit. She found that not only did her prayer touch the lives of those she prayed for, but it changed her own life in ways beyond what she ever could have imagined.
After reading the book, I began to think about how frequently I hear people say, “I’ll pray for you.” And how often I have said it without actually thinking of the follow-through. It was simply lip service.
I was so moved by River’s book that I told myself I was going to do the same thing, but that follow-through didn’t happen on an every day basis. What did happen, however, was the awareness of making an effort to follow through when I said I was going to pray.
“I’ll pray for you,” now means I really will pray. I have found that it’s something that costs absolutely nothing yet rewards abundantly.
And the other thing that happened was the compelling awareness at the most unexpected moments to pray for a stranger that is brought to my attention by a God who knows all things.
When I see someone on the street corner holding a sign asking for money, I’m compelled to offer up a prayer for God’s hand in his/her life.
When I see someone crying, I’m compelled to pray for healing.
When I hear someone speaking ill of another, I’m compelled to pray they find peace.
And each time I’m compelled to pray, I’m the one that’s richly blessed.
It gets me out of my own head and self-centeredness and leads me to think about others. It puts others needs before my own. And that’s what helps me grow closer to God. By connecting my human spirit to that of another.
“God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.”.
– E. M. Bounds