Prayers for strangers and hurting hearts
Who else prays for strangers?
I can’t be the only one who prays for folks they don’t know. I’m pretty sensitive, and stories I hear prick my heart. I have to respond in the best way I know—prayer.
Prayer, the most powerful force, is also the easiest to gift to give. It only takes a few minutes of time and a bit of compassion. I find it an honor to bring a situation into the presence of God.
For decades I’ve felt a special nudge to pray for people I barely know or don’t know at all.
One of the first times I prayed for a stranger was over 30 years ago. We lived in a neighborhood of semi-detached homes with small lots. A little boy, probably around eight years of age, lived next door. Our driveways were short and only fit one car. Nearly daily, that little boy would hop off his bike and let it fall into our drive. Nearly daily, I would have to move it aside so my husband could park his car. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was aggravating. One day, the boy did NOT leave his bike on our drive. I soon found out that he had broken his arm. I was relieved to not have to check the drive and move his bike every day, but I felt sorry for him. He was such an active little guy. I started praying for his arm to heal well and quickly, and believe it or not, eventually the bike-in-the-drive situation turned around. I’d like to say he no longer dropped his bicycle in my driveway—he did. But what changed was my attitude toward him. It’s difficult to remain annoyed at someone you pray for.
There was a family on that same street that suffered a huge tragedy. There were two kids in the family, the oldest a little girl around nine years old. She was the youngest entrepreneur I’ve ever met. She’d ring the bell and offer to plant marigold seeds around the mailbox for a dollar, or she’d offer to rake leaves, or paint house numbers on the curb. That child always had a product or service to sell. We left the neighborhood, and about a year later I learned she and her brother were orphaned by a murder-suicide incident. I started praying for those kids, and still do today. She’s probably close to 40 today. I hope she’s got a happy life, a close relationship with her brother, and trusts in the Lord.
And then there’s the mother who was walking her toddler in a stroller here in Colorado about twenty years ago. The path they were on runs alongside a freeway. In a freak accident, a hubcap came off a tire, flew through the air, and struck the stroller. The baby died. I don’t think a month goes by that I don’t recall that mother and her family, and say a prayer.
This past Saturday I went to the grocery store. As I was pulling into a parking spot, I realized a young mom was putting her baby into the car on “my” side. When I parked I apologized, saying I usually don’t try to run over young moms.
She shut the car's back door. “Well, it really wouldn’t matter if you ran me over because look at this.” She pointed her thumb toward her face. “I feel like I’ve been run over already, and I probably look like I’ve been run over. I haven’t slept in years!” Then she got in her car and drove off. She had a baby and a toddler with her. Poor lady, I remember feeling sooo tired when I had a trio of children age four and under. Sleepless nights, endless requests, chores that need to be done, tasks that must be accomplished. I prayed for her as I did my grocery shopping. I hope she got a nap that day, I suggested she try. She smiled in response.
Sometimes I pray only once for a need I see, other times the tug on my heart remains, and I pray repeatedly for someone who's crossed my path.
And I like to think that somewhere, someone else might be saying a prayer for me, too.
What about you? Do you pray for strangers?