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.

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Your Comments (19)

What a blessing your story has been to me. Thank you.

I was delighted to hear that someone prays for strangers, but has taken it a step further than I have. When I drive into town, I take the time to say a prayer for the people who pass me heading in the opposite direction. I just say something simple like: "God bless those people on their way to work or play or pick up children." If someone is going a little fast, it's easy to pray, "That person seems to be in a hurry. Please calm him and help him face whatever it is that is bothering him." It helps me focus on something positive rather than be irritated by the other drivers. River Jordan has made her "mission" personal which is even better; her recipients KNOW she is praying for them. She is doing a great thing for the Lord. I am encourated by her passion.

I love the idea of praying for a stranger a day. I'm going to do this and put a new twist to it and make a journal along the way. I'm excited!



I have learned so much about ways to pray for strangers just by reading the comments above - thanks for giving them the opportunity to tell you about the ways they pray for strangers and a big thank-you to each one of them for sharing with me these new ways to pray. jc.cates@att.net

It heps and it is our responsibility to know that there other people out ther who needs to be cared for. Connecting to them through prayes is your obligation.
May God bless you abundantely.

Yes I do pray for others. I pray online for our prayer.However here I prepare to pray. But the real praying for others comes out of surprise even to me. This may be on seeing/reading a news report of a sinner or a poor child who is sick or lost parents, old people who don't have anybody to care. I feel a heaviness in my heart, sometimes I pray with tears in my eyes as if I am/ my son/ parents are going through the situation and I feel a great relief after praying and leaving it to God. The curious fact is that I am not moved like this in all situations. I don't know why But i am happy doing this.

I have been praying for strangers for many years. I prayed for the patients I transported on the ambulance. I prayed for the patients I cared for at the hospital cardiac floor, at the pediatric clinic, and the doctor's office. It was a way for me to give emotional care and connect with the people in need. Now, I am disabled and pray for the people in the news, the world leaders, and those I pass on the street. I find young mothers, service people, and the homeless. It's the only way I can give care now. It's an effort, a conscience effort to find a stranger. On days when pain holds me captive, it offers a way to reach beyond the pain and find a way out. Prayer gives me peace. I also like to watch for when God answers the prayer requests.
Stephanie S.

Hi, I clicked the link to see your book and saw I might have a chance at getting chosen to get one. I had just then told my husband I wished we had money to get your book. I am an intercessor/Prayer Warrior for children on line. I have been for years. Being a shut in (till I became homeless a year ago after the roof went bad on a rental house I had in KS)left me feeling the need to do something for God and feel useful. I love doing this. Also I too Pray for the ambulance patient, drivers, care takers and their families. I am so excited to see others do this too. God is amazing. I am HFA and recently married and so blessed by God. Kandi Ann-inyourwildestdreams AT Yahoo dot com

Yes, I pray for strangers. One in particular has been an ongoing prayer through the years. When both of my children were in college in the mid 90s there was a horrilbe accident one mother's day. A car load of students from SBU in Bolivar, MO were on their way back from KC after spending mother's day with family. A brother and sister were in the wreck, and they were their parents only children. I could not think or talk about the accident with shedding of tears, and have prayed for the parents every time I have thought about it since. The last I heard about them was that they attended homecoming to be with their kids friends. I still pray for this couple who lost so much.

LaRee LaMar, Springfield, MO

Yes, I do pray for strangers, I go to a bible class every Thursday evening - we post prayers for all the people we want prayers for, and most of them are strangers, or the ones that they are asking prayers for, are strangers, not the ones posting the prayers. I have prayed for our military for years, and like others have said when I see an accident or hear fire trucks and etc. All the people in Ala, Georgia, Tenn where all the tornados have been and the fires that have raged here in Texas - "God have mercy"

Barbara Lupo
Austin, Texas

I went to Catholic Elementary school, where when fire truck, ambulance went by, the nun would stop talking, bless herself as we also did and prayed for the people and who they were attending. This habit continued into my very adult life and added when stopped at a traffic light to look at the person along side and pray that God would reveal himself to her/him and to Bless them. So prayer has become a very real part of my everyday life along with praying for family and friends. Marilyn Jarnecki, Mills River N.C.

I feel like when folks are requesting prayer for someone during our church service, a lot of times these prayer requests are for people I don't know so these names will go on my prayer list. Like some of the other folks when I see an ambulance or hear a siren I say a quick prayer for those involved in the emergency. The book you are recommending sounds really interesting. Our prayers can be simple or complex, God hears them all. May God richly bless you.

I found that when I pray for strangers, it's very easy to pray in faith & expect miracles (for the people the rescue workers are trying to get out of the mangled car on the other side of the freeway), because it's purely from a heart of compassion & trust in God to do what I can't, and since I'm not the one in the midst of the crisis, I don't have all the fear, doubt and negative emotions to contend with. It also makes it easy to pray for my Facebook friends ;^)

Yes, I do pray for strangers. As others have mentioned I lift-up a prayer when I hear emergency sirens. I also started praying for our armed forces and those they might encounter overseas when my husband was deployed to Afghanistan for a year. Since then my prayers have grown to cover strangers I may read about in the news. Or a stranger I may pass on the street who for some reason tugs at my heart.

(I inadvertently submitted this anonymously the first time and then wasn't sure how you'd figure out who I was if I was one of the lucky random three chosen - so here it is again!)

Yes, I do pray for strangers. As others have mentioned I lift-up a prayer when I hear emergency sirens. I also started praying for our armed forces overseas when my husband was deployed to Afghanistan for a year. Since then my prayers have grown to cover strangers I may read about in the news. Or a stranger I may pass on the street who for some reason tugs at my heart.

I do pray for strangers. Last night our Bible study group was discussing this very subject. We are surrounded by people as we walk through shopping centers and other public places. It's the perfect time to send prayers to the Father on their behalf.


Like Monique, a passing ambulance, firetruck or police car launches a prayer. Still, I know I have much to learn, many new things to consider, when it comes to praying for people I don't know.

Yes, I do pray for strangers. While driving, if an ambulance passes me, I pray for the patient they are taking to a hospital, for the people who care for this person and for the driver to get where he is going safely.
Yes, I do pray for anyone I see as I walk on the street or in a store who seems sad or depressed. May god help him or her in thyeir need and may he help me in mine.
Yes, I do pray for Marion Bond West and for Edward Grinnan whose books have brought me much direct comfort and hope in these very difficult days I am living through after my wonderful husband's death, not unexpected but still so difficult to accept.
May God bless you all at Guideposts.

Monique Vadlovo - mvlanda@videotron.ca
Longueuil, Quebec, Canada