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On the Journey
By Rick Hamlin

Praying for Strangers

It’s so easy to pray for the people we know and love, but what about those we don’t know?

Isn’t that what we do when we pray for the victims of a catastrophe like the recent tornadoes? Praying for strangers is a way to stretch your heart so that the world becomes full of friends.

I was thinking of this when reading the compelling book Praying for Strangers by River Jordan. In 2009 both of her sons were heading off to war, one to Afghanistan, one to Iraq. What would she do with her worries during their absence? How would she cope? She decided to pray every day for one stranger.

Prayer, for me, is a way of organizing the noise in my head so that all those scattered sounds and distractions make sense. My quiet time helps me understand how what seems disjointed is working together for a common good, like an orchestra and chorus making one unified sound.

What Jordan’s book showed me is how praying for strangers is at the heart of prayer. Instead of turning away from what is confusing or disturbing, from the beggar on the street corner to a natural disaster across the globe, I put it in my prayer life and then let it go. The benefit to me? My own concerns and worries shrink.

Do you pray for strangers? How does it help you? Tell me in the comment section of this blog. I’ve got three copies of Praying for Strangers. I’d love to give them away to any three strangers who post a comment. I’ll select your names at random and send you the book. By then, of course, we won’t be complete strangers.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts magazine and the author of 10 Prayers You Can't Live Without. To learn more about the book and explore your own prayer journey, watch this video.