The prayers of strangers

It wasn’t the typical Sunday morning but I’m not quite sure what typical means some days. My sister was visiting and going with us to chapel service, her first in the recovery community.  Hudson was leaving town immediately following the service and before I walked out of our house I had a message from a friend in another town asking our men to pray for JW.

As I set up the computer for the media another message flashed across my screen: please pray for JR’s wife and then the needs of another not asking for prayer but I knew it was needed.

chapel edit


Every week there are those sitting in silence, doubting prayer, wondering why theirs wasn’t answered or if they should even ask for prayer. We’ve all trivialized our problems because those of another sounds greater. We’ve sulked because we’re still waiting for the last 10 prayers to be answered and now we aren’t even sure we believe.

It stays in my mind, this woman of the faith who has never met one of the men she has asked to pray. She knows of their brokeness, of the reasons they’ve had to put humility aside and walk through our doors. She’s heard me tell the stories and these are the ones she wants to pray, for one they don’t know either.

My faith is shallow and impatient. It doesn’t wait long and its doubt comes quick. My faith reaches to people I know, I’ve seen their lives and heard their hearts and maybe, maybe, I’ll whisper my need to them.

I know these men and I know God and I know the broken are just the ones God uses to crash my arrogance and pride. I know he hears the hearts of those whose hearts beat for Him and nothing beats louder than a heart needing to be made new.

We prayed for the known and the unknown. Some are praying still. I don’t understand the mystery of prayer. I’m not too good at it, at least the way it seems it should be done. I hope I’m wrong about that. I hope I’m wrong that it needs to be always done on my knees in a quiet room with no distractions and no less than 10 minutes, preferably 15 minutes. Doesn’t that sound right?

You thank and praise, which seem the same to me but I heard someone say they’re different and you should include both in your prayers.

You admit and request and you wrap it all in gratitude and that I know it right because how can I not be grateful to the One who somehow holds it all.

Mostly I pray in spurts. In the moment as it comes to me like seeing a request on Facebook and sometimes I touch the screen and say a prayer. I know I’ll forget if I don’t say it just then.

I pray with my eyes open a lot because I’m driving or at my desk or someone comes to mind while I’m cooking. It always too little  but God isn’t the one measuring prayers by word count or eyes closed.

I don’t know why she asked a group of strangers, men with addiction problems, to pray for her friend. I do know God has heard their prayers. I know her faith in God is why she asked and not her faith in people. I know her faith has helped strengthen mine.


6 thoughts on “The prayers of strangers

  1. patrickhawthorne01 says:

    There was once a man who raised numerous people from the dead. He was born in the latter parts of the 1800’s. His name was Smith Wigglesworth. When someone asked how long he prayed, Smith commented that he rarely prayed longer than 15 minutes. That shocked the person. But then, Smith went on to say that he rarely spent more than 15 minutes without praying. In other words, he spent his life praying…praying on his knees, praying as he walked, praying here, praying there, praying out loud, praying silently, praying sitting, praying in bed. In other words, he talked with his friend God wherever he was and was not concerned about being RC (religiously correct). Be blessed.

  2. Annie Rim says:

    It took me a while to embrace prayer on the go. I had been trained in formulaic prayer done during a set Quiet Time. I realized how much prayer I was missing when I waited for the Right Time. Now, I pray where I am, as I’m prompted. I don’t know what percentage of my day is spent in prayer, but I do know I pray more! Thankful for a God who listens, wherever we are – eyes open or closed!

    • Debby says:

      Annie, I use to serve on youth camp staff when our ministry was to a more traditional congregation. I remember a guest speaker teaching about the prayer journal she developed and the acronym P.A.R.T. Good stuff, but another box I’ve long since discovered I don’t need. I do need reminders that those ‘breath’ prayers, as I call them, are no less than any other kind of prayer. Thankful for those who, unknowingly, give those reminders. And thankful for you taking time to leave your encouraging words.

  3. Mama's Empty Nest says:

    I’m with you. My prayer time isn’t stuffed into a formal box (pray for 15 min or longer, on your knees, in a certain way, or in a certain place), my prayers are ongoing. Short arrow prayers sent heavenward during the day. A prayer sentence while driving. Prayer at the computer. Wherever, whenever God brings someone to mind that I need to pray for. And I do believe that’s what our Lord wants from us – to be in conversation with us through our daily routines, in the middle of the night, or even in a crowded room.

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