Book Review: Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit by River Jordan

9780425245606LBook Review: Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit

by River Jordan
ISBN 978-0-425-24560-6
Berkley Books, 2011

“Everyone, no matter what their faith, their background, their race may be, is united in their desire to be blessed.” —River Jordan

Imagine picking a person out of a crowd—a stranger—and walking up to tell them you will pray for them that day. Could you do it? Would you? What kind of reaction might you expect?

River Jordan did this every day for a year to fulfill a New Year’s resolution. Then she found she couldn’t stop. The practice became part of her very being.

The resolution bubbled up from deep within her in response to her concerns about her two sons being sent to war zones. When she actively looked around her for others who might benefit from prayer, it helped her deal with her own fears. She left her house every day and looked—really looked—at the people around her. She waited for a feeling to stir inside to tell her which person would be her stranger for the day. Jordan called it “. . . listening with my spirit to a cry my ears would never hear.” Sometimes it was someone poor, sick, or disenfranchised, but often it was someone wealthy, healthy, or well-connected. Her stranger radar led her to people who needed prayed despite their shiny surface. Occasionally she received a lukewarm or hostile response. Every so often a stranger would take a step back. Usually the stranger responded with deep gratitude. Often the stranger said something like, “You have no idea how much I need this today.”

This book is easy to pick up and read for a short time and then set down. Each chapter stands alone and summarizes one encounter with a stranger. There is some repetition of theme, but most chapters give a singular take on a life issue. By the end of the book we feel like we know the author very well.

Jordan’s resolution changed her. It brought a new level of awareness to the world around her. She didn’t daydream on her walks through the grocery store anymore. She studied people around her. She imagined what their cares might be. She felt herself integrated with people and her community in a deeper way: “We don’t come into this world separate, or belonging to a select few, but we’re a part of the human race. All of us amazingly the same in spite of our differences. That is the real thing. We belong to each other.”

Walking up to a stranger and telling them you will pray for them is no easy task; Jordan struggled against her trepidations and hesitations every time. But the stirring within her, the voice her ears couldn’t hear, spurred her on to move through her days, her year, on a wave of prayer.

“Could it be possible for us to move through our day on a wave of prayer, receiving and giving, offering silent words, thoughts, good intent to the people that we meet along the way?” River Jordan


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on July 17, 2013, in Book reviews, Books for the beach, Books I bought, Non-fiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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