Sunday, September 06, 2009

Praying for the other

Over at Country Parson today I was reading a post about intercessory prayer and it got to me thinking about prayers I've been concentrating on lately. I’m trying to pray more these days for folks I don’t always agree with and for those who really don’t care whether I agree with them or not. These subjects of my prayer would probably agree with me that the other, that’s them, that’s me, is totally misinformed, totally uneducated, totally inept in their evaluation of a situation (perhaps health care, comes to mind?).

I'm not doing this to make me holier than they are because some might even be offended that I would lift their name in prayer. I’m doing it for me, of course! Isn’t that what always motivates me to take action – when it affects me personally?

And how does it affect me personally? I’m not sure but the prayer makes me internally (and maybe externally) different in some way. Softens me toward the other as fellow children of our Creator, softens me in understanding they are trying to navigate this life as I am. It doesn’t change my mind about their opinion being the right one but it does soften the edge for me to understand that I do not have to declare the other an enemy just because we disagree. Yep, the prayer thing definitely makes a difference for me.

Any thoughts about praying for the other with whom you disagree? Softening, comforting or maybe just stupid?


  1. I have been feeling unfuriated and dismayed at the reactions to health care I've been seeing and hearing about here in Australia.

    And so I did exactly what you did the other night, after I'd had a giant whingefest. And yes, I agree, softening is a great word to use to describe it. Relieves the anger and frustration we all feel in this world, too, somehow, when the compassion sets in of, "Have you considered ..." or "The fear is so strong, they are bound up" or "Perhaps if you grew up in certain parts of the US you would be reacting the same way" etc etc.

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  3. A few nights ago we were burgled. I left the garage door open; the cars were rifled and my old bike stolen. For some reason, and in spite of my anger, my prayers that morning turned to a desire for the things they took to become blessings in their lives. I wonder.

  4. That is awesome, Country Parson. The freedom Jesus tried to steer us to - "See, even in the worst and direst of situations, there is space for you to stand and be free." Wow :)

  5. Sorry to hear of the burglary.

    SS, this post reminds me of the Buddhist concept/meditative practice of Loving Kindness. Meditating upon four types of person in loving kindness, working up to someone you feel hostile towards. There's quite a good article about it here:

  6. Sue - nice to see you here today and I appreciate your understanding comments to me and to CP:)

    Tess - thanks for the site, I've got it marked to take a look.


  7. It is softening all around. I recall at a point in my life when I still felt hostility towards my deceased father, when I was driving home -- a long trip -- from a retreat, a thought entered my mind. It was as if Jesus were saying to me that my father was in heaven constantly praying for me. I was then healed from the hostility. It never returned.

  8. a couple of thoughts here. barbara's words remind me of the notion that holding resentments or anger against another is like swallowing poison and hoping the offender will die.

    softening is such a great word here - i don't see it as "holier than thou" at all (although it can be!) i am reminded of a quote i underlined today while reading "My Grandfather's Blessings":

    "we are all here to grow in wisdom and learn how to love better. as we do this is our own ways, we slowly become a blessing to those around us and a light in the world."

    we muddle through and do the best we can, 'cuz if we don't take care of ourselves, how can we care for anyone else?