Praying in real life: Praying for others

Why would we pray for others? What is happening in this prayer? If praying for others is not about trying to remind an aloof God to care, or to convince an unpredictable God to act, then what is praying for others about? Furthermore, how are we supposed pray for others and what does this achieve? Rev Dr Sally Douglas explores these questions in the latest video on Praying in Real Life.

 

Some further thoughts about Praying for others

From Christian perspective, praying for others is not about trying to convince an aloof or uncaring God to intervene. This kind of god imagery is much more closely aligned with understandings of the unpredictable gods in the Greco-Roman world. These gods had to be bribed or impressed with all kinds of food offerings and sacrifices in order to be cajoled into intervening. 

In contrast, the God who comes to us in Jesus enters our suffering and is with us – in utter solidarity –longing to birth wholeness.

In Jesus we encounter how God wields power. While God is powerful to act, in Jesus we discover that God does not act like a superhero, zapping people at will, enforcing power over them. In contrast, in the gospels time and again Jesus honours peoples’ personal boundaries and waits for people to invite Jesus to use Divine power with them for healing and wholeness.

When we pray for others, just like those who bring people to Jesus in the gospels, we are inviting Divine healing power to travel through us to others. We become portals for grace. How people choose to respond to this power is their choice. We are simply called to collaborate with Spirit for healing and wholeness in situations of brokenness.

Praying for others may be with words, or it may be with imagery. Visual prayer may include imagining healing light resting upon the person we are holding in prayer.

Further reading

For further reading you may like to engage with the work of John O’Donohue:

John O’Donohue, the Irish writer and theologian, speaks beautifully about the potent power of praying for and blessing others. He states: “A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal, and strengthen.” (198) O’Donohue goes on: “Blessing as powerful and positive intention can transform situations and people. The force of blessing must be even more powerful when we consider how the intention of blessing corresponds with the deepest desire of reality for creativity, healing and wholesomeness.” (217)

From John O’Donohue To Bless this Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings. New York: Convergent, 2008.

John is interviewed in the On Being podcast and speaks about a range of important themes including beauty and spirituality. Here is a link: https://onbeing.org/programs/john-odonohue-the-inner-landscape-of-beauty-aug2017/