Praying for Strangers-Guest Post by Samantha Holland
My very busy schedule continues for another month, so I will be sharing with you a number of guest posts. Today I have the privilege of introducing to you Samantha Holland. She shares a great perspective on what to do when the needs around us seem to intrude on our lives
Darren and I are in San Diego for meetings this week. I can't tell if I'm inside or outside here, as the temperature averages a perfect 71 degrees year round; that coupled with palm trees and ocean makes this place a slice of heaven.
Last night, we had dinner while watching the sun set over the Pacific; the glowing red-orange ball slipped over the edge of the earth at exactly 7:00. As I sipped my drink and gazed out the window at the Mission Beach sidewalk, I reluctantly started noticing people. I just wanted to drink my drink, enjoy the sunset, and feel the balmy perfection of California coastal air.
But there they were, people--lots of them--getting in my way. A forlorn young girl sat on the seawall and stared at that same sunset. One older man, looking worn out on life, shuffled down the sidewalk with a limp. I didn't want to look at them, but I couldn't tear my eyes away.
I love and loathe this aspect of the Christian life: I can hardly look at anyone without God showing me them through His eyes. They are precious. They have blessings and they have struggles, just like me. They have a secret inner life, just like me. Sometimes, viewing people through God goggles physically pains and burdens me.I don't understand why God allows things to go on the way they do, from the lonely people on the beaches to the current events in places like Syria. My initial reaction tends to be a soul-crushing, helpless sadness, because what can one (introverted) person do about the billions of people lonely and/or suffering on this planet?
But there is always something I can do. I can pray.
I mean, I spend the majority of my life thinking anyway. I'm beginning to wonder if prayer might be the contemplative introvert's single greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God. Since I live my life inside my head most of the time, anyway--why not channel more of that toward God and others? Richard Foster's excellent book Celebration of Discipline suggests constantly praying for strangers I see but may never interact with--and I say, why not?
Some might question if prayer is really the best, most strategic thing one can do--maybe it seems too easy, and maybe it's not the comprehensive answer for every single situation. But is praying for others truly easy? Does it come naturally to us?
Not me. Especially not when I'm out on a date with my husband, having my alone time, refilling and refreshing. That's one instance where tearing my thoughts away from myself and my own comfortable life seems most difficult.
So I sacrificed time out of our dinner last night to really notice the individuals outside, and to pray for them. I usually pray a few simple prayers: Lord, may the circumstances in his life point him to you. God, please put a kind, loving, caring Christian into the life of that person. Jesus, show her that you are in that sunset she's watching.
San Diego feels like heaven on earth, but when I truly enter paradise, I hope to encounter some of those strangers again.