Introduction to Praying for Others
Think of the many times you have been asked or moved to pray for someone, or to pray for peace throughout the world.
Or to pray for those who are dying. Or to pray for the ones who have no helper. Or to pray for those who are alone. Or to pray for the weak and hungry. Or to pray for our country, or the countries of the world.
Or, how often have you been in a struggle with life yourself, and felt like you needed the prayers of others to see you through?
Prayer for ourselves and others can become an overwhelming task. Not because we lack the compassion or even motivation, but because there are simply so many needs.
Waseskun is a Cree word referring to that moment at the end of a storm when the dark clouds are breaking and the blue sky and sun are beginning to seep through. This is an image we can easily identify with because we have all been present at such awe-filled times. We’ve known the gathering of the clouds that warned us of the coming storm; we’ve felt the overshadowing darkness as the storm was unleashed; we’ve witnessed the quiet that settles as the storm abates; and we’ve felt the lightness of seeing slivers of blue and finally the sun peeking through bulbous clouds, casting its warmth on the moistened ground.
Life is much like waseskun. We see the storms gathering in our own or others’ lives, and are keenly aware of the pain, suffering, sadness, grief, and worry that seem to overshadow the joy of life. At such times of darkness, our natural response is prayer. We ask the Holy One to intervene and halt the storm, part the clouds, and let the light shine through. Yet, because the needs are so great, we feel helpless to pray for all those who have asked for our prayers, much less all those who are in need of prayer, and we wonder if others will offer their prayers for us.
“Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24).
God reads the prayers of our heart even before they have been formed into words or vocalized by our mouth. Prayer becomes not so much trying to remember the names and needs of each person or group. Rather the task of intercessory and petitionary prayer becomes opening our heart to receive all the needs and then asking the Holy One to read what is there.
In some ways, it is more difficult than simply naming names and asking for God’s assistance, because it requires the full opening of the heart and soul to our own pain and the pain of the world. But, the God of love takes our offering and blesses our love. The God of love hears our heart and blesses those we love. The God of love lifts the needs from our heart and takes them into the heart of heaven. And we, we stand amazed, at the miracles that unfold.
A Process for Praying for Others
1. Sit quietly and center yourself in the present moment.
2. Slowly read each name listed.
3. As you read imagine the name floating into your heart.
4. Bring your awareness to being in the presence of God.
5. Open your heart and ask God to read the names that are written there.
6. Thank God for the time you’ve spent together and for listening and answering you in your prayers.