Praying for Strangers by River Jordan
Published by Berkley Books, 2011, This books describes the experiences of novelist River Jordan when she feels led to begin a quest to pray for a stranger daily for a year. This is an unexpected prayer journey because it is written by a popular novelist who is not a religious teacher or leader trying to teach us their latest principles of prayer. Because she is a novelist, the book unfolds in vivid scenes rich with dialogue, honest inner thoughts and well described emotion. River begins her journey at a time when she is wondering how she will survive a year when both of her sons are deployed to war zones at the same time. God seems to gently urge her to try to pray for a stranger every day for a year. River isn’t one to say much about her faith under normal situations and the quest becomes even more challenging when God seems to urge her to approach her “strangers” and to tell them that she has been led to single them out for special prayer that day. (She prays for them later in her own private prayers.) As she goes through her year she finds her heart being changed by the way strangers respond and by the way her prayers help enlarge her own heart toward those around her she often ignored.
Review: My friend sent me this book the first week of January because she was greatly inspired by the idea of making a resolution similar to River’s by doing a personal deed a day to encourage someone daily. I was fascinated by this book because each person responds in a unique way when River tells them that God has impressed upon her to say a special prayer for them that day. Some react with immediate wonder because of the coincidence of the timing. Others react with tears that someone cares. Others are indifferent and ungrateful. Some confess their shortcomings to her. Many stop and share some need big or small that is on their heart at that moment.
Although this isn’t a teaching book, we learn valuable lessons with River along the way. We learn that people who look perfectly all together on the outside might be just the ones who need prayer. We learn to be obedient to our “assignment” to pray for someone even when we are terribly busy or preoccupied. We learn that people who need prayer can come in all shapes and sizes from the parking lot attendant to the woman drinking at the bar. But most of all we learn to never be too busy to allow God to direct our attention to strangers who might need prayer.
Her “technique” is very simple. She allows God to help her sense who the person is for the day. She normally approaches the person and begins by asking them their name. She then quickly tells them that she is on a personal quest to pray for a stranger a day and that they are her person today. Then she asks them if they have any personal requests and that she will pray for them later on that evening.
You will love River’s frank sharing about her times of failing to perceive things she should have about others, her fear that she might look foolish, her times when she would rather sit alone in a restaurant and read a book and unwind than notice the young girl across the room who needs prayer.
Added by Karen Barber on January 25, 2012