I heard about the book by River Jordan, Praying for Strangers when it first came out in early 2011. She’s a popular local author of novels but this was her first work of narrative non-fiction. A friend recommended that I read the book since I was involved in our healing prayer ministry at church, but I thought, “What good does it do to pray for strangers, if they don’t know you are praying for them? Seems like all that does is make you feel better.”
As usual when I jump to conclusions, I was wrong. From the title, I thought that River just picked people out of the newspaper, or read about them on the Internet or Facebook and decided to pray for them. I was privileged to meet River this past Tuesday night and she told us how she started praying for strangers as a resolution. It wasn’t two weeks into the “private prayer” process that she was compelled to go back into a highway rest stop to tell a lady that she was “her stranger for the day” and that River was going to pray that night for untold blessings for her. I won’t spoil the story by telling you the ending, but River commented that she was amazed how much a difference it makes when you look someone in the eye and tell them you care.
The stories are enriching, but I was listening intently when she said, “Let me tell you how praying for strangers has changed me.”
“It’s easy for me to get caught up in the busyness of the world, taking care of routine things, being with the people I care about and just “living”. But it would also be easy for me to just retreat into myself, tired from my world. Instead praying for a stranger each day forces me to see the people around me and to care about others, more than I care about me. I have been amazed at the popularity of the book. I didn’t have this cute idea one day and thought it would make a great book. Instead God had this cute idea of how I am supposed to live my life, loving Him and loving others. Praying for strangers is the way that God is using me to spread the good news that He cares about us, that He loves us and that He wants the best for us. It catches people off-guard when I say my opening line, “Excuse me, but can I have your name?” No one ever refuses; they think that I’ve mistaken them for an old friend. But then I say, “I do this thing, every night before I go to bed, I pray for a stranger. Today you are my stranger and I want you to know that tonight I will be praying for you.”
What a powerful message from River, that we need to reach out to others and show them that you don’t have to be in my inner circle to feel God’s love.
Blessings, my friend,