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How to Pray Like a Secret Santa

Powerful ways to pray in the moment for just about anyone—including those you don’t know.

Pray like a Secret Santa
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Many businesses, families, churches and other groups have followed a tradition of exchanging Christmas gifts called “Secret Santa.” Participants draw names from a hat or box; the participant then becomes the “Secret Santa” for that person, which involves buying a gift (usually in a specific price range) and giving it anonymously to the recipient. The recipient is left guessing the gift-giver’s identity until all is revealed at a Christmas party. 

You may be someone’s “Secret Santa” this year. But why not take it even further and pray “Secret Santa” prayers between now and Christmas Day? 

Frank Laubach, in his classic volume, Prayer—The Mightiest Force in the World, wrote:

Some of us who travel much have hundreds of days when we can sit behind people in street cars, trains, stations, restaurants, concerts or lectures, and pray at the back of their heads with our eyes open to see how many of them show signs of being aware.

Some time ago, I was looking at a man sitting by an open window half a block away. I shot a rapid fire of prayer at him, saying three or four times a second: “Jesus, friend—Jesus is coming to you.” In thirty seconds that man put his head in his hands and bent down over his desk as though in prayer. Flashing hard and straight prayers in a street car while repeating, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” usually makes some of the people near you act as though they had been spoken to. If they do not respond the first time, you can return again and again, until they show signs of being “tuned in.” They look at you curiously, often smile, and frequently say something. All Christians should acquire this habit. I will try to describe how it feels. It seems to me I am pushing these prayers from my breast and fingers, as well as from my brain—from my whole nervous system. I find myself exhaling a little through my nose with each pressure. After a while, the car or room seems gently “excited,” like the magnetic field around a magnet. Everyone behaves like an old friend. People seem to like us to pray for them.

Prayer: The Mightiest Force in the World by Frank Laubach, Fleming H. Revell Co., 1945

Try it. Between now and Christmas Day, as often as possible, focus your prayers on someone who can have no idea they’re being prayed for. Pray for the cashier in the store as you wait in line. Send your “Secret Santa” prayers to someone sitting alone at a bus stop or waiting in their car at a traffic light.

They don’t have to be strangers; make a neighbor or someone at church your “Secret Santa” target. Pay special attention to their reactions; rejoice when they seem to show some awareness or effect of your prayers. You may eventually reveal yourself as their “Secret Santa,” and let them know that you were praying for them. But wait until after Christmas.

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