Posts Tagged 'Praying for strangers'

Ride-along Chaplain

Typical_Summer_Afternoon_on_Lake_Shore_DriveI love my Uber app. Just a few clicks and I am good to go somewhere when Tom is using our shared car. Of course I learned about it from my 20-something daughter who stayed on the phone with me while I signed up as I was anxious about somehow “doing it wrong.”

My opening question is always, “How long have you been driving with Uber?” The answer has ranged from three years to one day. Most of the time it is just a few months.

Perhaps because I may or may not have a “Mom-like” presence, I’m honored with hearing many stories from the drivers during our rides. I don’t broadcast an invitation like “Tell me your life history in the next 10 minutes” but that’s often what happens.

About half the time, especially if I’m transported to the hospital, I mention I’m a chaplain (i.e. I pray for people.) The most common response: Will you pray for me?  I do, of course, right there. No time for theology or inter-faith discussions, just simple prayer.

My favorite encounter was on a long ride to the airport, lots of time for stories. As we were pulling in, the driver turned around, “Ma’am, we are almost there and you haven’t prayed for me yet!” Another time the driver asked me if it would be OK to give me a hug after we had prayed about some tough family stuff. Yup, just fine.

Funny but I’ve never had the same driver twice and never hear how things worked out but that’s OK.

Looking forward to the next round of stories, everyone has one.

Hope for the best,


“I Will Pray for You”

My Mom with her great-grandson last weekend.

My Mom with her great-grandson last weekend.

I recently led a group of hospital patients in a conversation about prayer and asked them how they felt about people saying “I will pray for you.” Each one of them, even the ones who called themselves non-believers, remarked that they felt cared for and supported and appreciated the gesture.

I wish they could meet my mother.

If you have ever spent any time with my mom, she probably told you she would pray for you. She immediately gets on first name basis with most everyone she has an encounter with: the guy pushing her wheelchair through the airport, the wait staff in any restaurant and the individuals sitting next to her in public settings. She manages to get the highlights of their story and ends each conversation ends the same, I will pray for you. And she does.

She once told me how worried she was about her ADT tech’s girlfriend’s family and put them on her prayer list. Each night the list gets covered. She says it takes a long time to get through everyone.

Sometimes I feel like maybe I should mention that perhaps some of these folks might not welcome being prayed for but I’m sure she would just pray harder for them.

When we’re together, she usually commits me to the effort as well. “We’ll pray for you” even though I haven’t been a part of the conversation and sometimes she adds, “We’re good pray-ers.” That always seems a funny thing to add but I guess it is like a personal endorsement. So I pray too once I get proxied in.

I thought of her today when “Luigi” drove me home from getting my car serviced. I got his story but didn’t add the final line, “I will pray for you.” I did anyway though.

I don’t know if I will ever take my stranger prayers to that level (Bless You (even if you haven’t sneezed) but know my life has been profoundly shaped by being near the top of that list for every one of my days.

Hope for the best,


Bless You! (even if you haven’t sneezed)

A Public Prayer Post

A Public Prayer Post

How do you feel about praying for strangers? I bet you already have in some fashion even it was just to add to the chorus of “Bless you’s” when a random passer-by sneezed in your midst.

You might have taken it a notch further by praying for a friend-of-a-friend. Has one of your Facebook friends/work colleagues ever asked you to say a prayer for someone they know but you don’t? Easy to say a quick prayer and pretty safe too as you are usually in the privacy of your home doing the praying.

I am actually in a profession when I get paid to pray for strangers in my role of hospital chaplain. Of course, I’m wearing a badge and they know why I’m there but it is one of the big attractions of the job for me. I’m confident some of the patients I see have never had anyone pray for them by name in their presence until our brief encounter.

Years ago I read about a practice of the famous preacher, Norman Vincent Peale, who made it a habit to silently bless everyone he encountered in his daily round. The grocery clerk, receptionist, street vendor, taxi driver, all got a quick blessing.

I thought about that over the weekend when I noticed a few wedding parties getting photographed at a retreat venue. I offered a quick prayer of blessing on their marriage and carried on with my walk. Nothing long but a real blessing, not like the sneeze kind.

Today on my home from the train I passed by a very weary looking woman sitting on a bench. My greeting was verbal but my prayer was silent. Both took about the same about of time.

So I’m going to keep it up for a while. Maybe not to everyone but to those who look like they could use a blessing. Want to join me?

And to you dear reader…

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 New International Version (NIV)

Hope for the best,


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