When Praying is Strange

Sometimes, and I can’t explain the “why” and “how” of this so don’t even try to ask me, but sometimes, I pray for people I’ve never met.

Leaders, for example.

Oprah. Tim Keller. Lauren Winner. President Obama. Beth Moore. HRH Prince George. Famous people for whom I have varying levels of respect, but all who've moved me in some way, and who’s work influences (or will influence, in the case of HRH) the masses.

Random people, too. 

Like the blonde by the window, scribbling on her legal pad at the 1369 Coffee House, or the teenage cashier who kept watching me from the corner of her eye, probably wondering what the heck I was doing eating by myself on a Friday night. People on the subway are easy targets, as are most of the Market Basket employees. I venture a silent prayer that their day unfolds with grace-they’ll never know, after all.

And then there’s the group petitions.

Mothers. Always mothers. Especially new ones: “Oh, God. There’s a mother out there who just needs one more hour of sleep. She’s drowning in baby food and dirty onesies and an hour is the difference between her insanity and her inner calm. Please God, make a way for a nap.” Egyptians recently, because military coup or no military coup, if my President was ousted by soldiers, I’d be scared. Migrant workers who’ve invested years of labor into a country that’d prefer to pretend they don’t exist.

Motorcyclists. Prostitutes. College Presidents. Bachelorette contestants.

Rhyme and reason has left the building, my friends. 

The mood strikes (or is it the Spirit?) and I pray.


Today I prayed out loud for someone I knew, someone who was in the room next to me. I wanted to, my heart was surely in it, but I’m a little rusty at my “out loud” prayers. You know, the ones that ought to resemble spiritual wisdom, or at the very least, sound cohesive enough that the person on the receiving end won’t feel like they’ve been lifted up to the Lord by a total loon.

I got through it okay, but after the "Amen," I was exhausted.

Me and God aren’t on the best of terms these days, and talking to Him felt like checking in with Mom during Finals Week. (Sorry, Mom.) You want to talk, you know it’s good for you and for her, but you’d rather save that conversation for a time when you’re a little more emotionally available-not when you’re gulping down burnt lattes and staying awake for 36 hours straight. (Did that. Wouldn't recommend it.)

I know I could ask questions.

I know I could yell.

I know I could cry and not say anything, and it could still be prayer.

But I’ve been doing a lot of all of the above lately, and honestly, I'm tired.

And plus, there’s a part of me that wonders if somebody, somewhere, for some unknown reason, feels led to pray for a woman who thinks her life is too great a burden for her to bear.

They don’t know why, they know it’s a little crazy, but they pray.

There's a part of me that wonders if that's the prayer that's getting me through.