I practice random acts of prayer multiple times daily because I feel compelled to do it. I pray when I see someone who looks like they need a prayer. The urge to pray falls on me like a strike. I am desperate to do it.
I pray for the woman buying her toothpaste. Her sadness speaks to me by the lines on her eyelids. There is worry I see glimpsing at her eyes, tangible worry I can almost caress. Her eyes are slightly dulled with the chore of shopping. I worry about her home life. I wonder what she worries about, what she does with her evenings, is she lonely? What hides beneath that silence, she is a stoic victim of something.
I pray for the mean images in social media that suddenly pop up to scare me as I scroll. The images of way too skinny dogs where I see bone contours where I shouldn’t. I see the world-wide disasters, shootings, earthquakes, the tornado damage, and the hate crimes. They hurt me and haunt me; I can’t un-see them. I pray at instant sight of them. I am helpless but for offering up a prayer or meager donation.
I pray for our country and safety and no more shootings. I pray our people don’t suffer hateful terrorist crimes. I pray for goodness to live here with us in our America.
I pray for the woman next to me at the track meet who sets up her young son for success but all her efforts fall apart as his illness loosens him up and he is so mad he hits her. He fights her. I pray for her to have strength to endure his fit. His rage attacks her generous mothering. Her packing him special snacks in his kiddie backpack isn’t enough for him. I see in her eyes she worries what I think of her. I wish I could help so I pray for her strength; her strength is real and true and patient. I look away but I pray silently for her. She speaks to me so I look back. She says she was worried he would hit me. I tell her it wouldn’t matter to me if he had hit me. I imagine she endures so much more than one hit. Her calm resolve falls on me like a blanket as I watch her cradle him and I wonder if I would be able to muster that much restraint and love.
I adore her mothering.
As I drive I pray for the old woman walking crooked with one shoulder more down than the other. She walks jerkily down the street where there is no sidewalk. She limps. On her hands are two black gloves so worn I can see her skin peeking through even from my windshield view. She wears muted red and green clothes the wrong colors together. I wonder where she went so urgently down this snowy street. Maybe there are no rides for her. I wonder if she took her meds today or if she forgot them, I’m sure she must take pills. I pray she has someone to organize her life into her daily pill boxes so she doesn’t miss the important ones.
I pray for the woman in the grocery store holding the crying infant whose bald head is tilted back, his mouth open like a rectangle spewing cries while her two-year old sits in the stroller, cracker crumbs spraying from his mouth like a dry brown firecracker. Desperation in her eyes, I know that look, I’ve almost drowned in it myself. She just needs to get through the shopping list. She collects her items careful and quick as her young ones are always on the verge of explosions. They don’t last long in whatever they do. I pray she can finish her shopping before the next crisis hits.
I pray for the man who wears the same green jacket every time he swerves slowly down a street near my house, jacket unzipped and carrying a stick too short to be a cane, his white beard square at the bottom of his face under his cap. I wonder if he walks to buy food or if he walks for something to do with his lonely life. Boredom breeding his precarious stroll down the sidewalk-less road, cars carving around his thin frame like a video game. I pray he makes it safe wherever he is going.
I pray for animals. I have done this all my life. I fear no others pray for them. They are the forgotten beings God made. Just once I walked into an animal shelter, all the dogs’ eyes pleaded with me, told me such stories it still haunts me now. Their lonely hurting gazes gripped and squeezed my heart so hard I could barely breathe. I began to cry. I had to run out of the building their sadness was so soundlessly piercing me. People can be the most brutal of monsters. I can’t take them all so I pray. I pray every time I pass an animal shelter. How could they be so unwanted—such sweet babies.
I pray for the homeless people I see downtown who mill about in odd clothes of colors no one else wants. They have bags on their shoulders I’ve donated. They try hard to look like they have something they need to do. They talk to each other and then turn quickly because they are all alone in their odd journey trying to survive the cruelties in the world. I pray for them because they don’t know what to do with themselves. Purpose lingers constantly out of their grasp in our mini-vans as we zoom by them.
I pray for children I see at school who seem a little too needy. I wonder what they are missing at home. Maybe I can help and give them attention while I volunteer hanging on their every word as they count to one hundred for me. I have a smile for them. I have a prayer.
I cry for starving children everywhere living unfair lives. I pray they get food. Hunger needs prayer in our world.
I pray for the abused to get to safety.
I pray for my friends who are sick, though they don’t know I pray for them but I do, I pray for remission and health and the return of hair.
I pray for my mother as the motherless womb that I am after the loss of her. I pray for my grandma who is gone too. I pray for my pets in heaven and my miscarried tiny baby. I pray for time with them in my future; I pray they can know my joy now and participate somehow. I cry hollow unfulfilled tears since they are not here anymore, missing like the robin eggs stolen by the crow. I am sorry mother robin, I wish I could have helped scare the crow away. But I did not know he would steal your babies.
I pray for the man with the sign on the corner asking for money who I don’t quite trust, he might be a scammer. I pray for myself because I don’t help him. Jesus would help him even if he’s a scammer, but I’m afraid to put my children at risk. What if he’s holding a gun under that warped cardboard with faded black marker words asking for donations for food. I’m so sorry I don’t help him; I pray that he finds the help he needs instead. I know that may not be good enough for God, but I fear for my children’s safety so I keep going and drive onto the highway. I am so sorry if you are genuine Sir. I am sorry I didn’t stop to give you a twenty.
I pray for my past self who made so many mistakes and the self of my future who has seedlings growing to make more, all of which make me who I am today. I pray for my kids and my husband and health and joy. I pray for a future together in heaven.
I pray random acts of prayer and I’ve done it for years. I’m not sure why but when I see it, I need to pray for that human being or animal right at that moment. Urgently. Maybe God will see my point and help. Maybe he gave me this urgency to help. Maybe he will help that one person or animal when I pray. Maybe it will make all the difference in their life and they will heal, their life turned around from the dark to sun.
Maybe God will slip a message into their heads because I prayed that random act of prayer on their behalf. Just maybe is enough for me.
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Republished with images added.