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How to Pray Fiction

Discover how your favorite novel can help grow your prayer life in this excerpt from PLUS: The Power of Faith Magazine.

How to Pray Fiction
Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd
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A good novel or short story can seem so real and engrossing that fiction starts to blend with reality. Sometimes the characters, personalities and lives are so convincing and compelling that you find yourself tensing when the characters are in trouble, crying when they are hurt, and rejoicing when they succeed.

Sometimes a reader’s involvement and investment in fictional characters may go even deeper. You may dream about your favorite characters. You may grieve when the story ends. You may daydream about what they are doing in some timeline beyond the story. You may even find yourself reflexively praying for them.

They’re not real, of course, so it seems silly to pray for them. But you got to know them. They were—at least momentarily—friends of yours. They entered your life and had an impact. You feel not only interested but invested in them. So maybe including them in your prayers isn’t that far-fetched after all. Here’s one way.

When you finish a great story with memorable characters, take a few moments to reflect on why you found them likeable and interesting. Was she winsome and quirky? Was he indefatigable? Did she defend the unfortunate? Was he self-effacing?

Chances are, you’ll be able to identify several strong personality and character traits that made you care about that character and root for him or her. When you’ve done so, take a few moments to pray for those traits to be developed or enhanced in you or in (real) people you love and care about.

For example:

  • “God, make me as faithful and encouraging to my friends as Samwise Gamgee was to Frodo.”
     
  • “Lord, I love Anne of Green Gables’s feisty, funny and fervent personality. Make me more like that, especially when the odds seem stacked against me.”
     
  • “Father, I wouldn’t mind having Sherlock Holmes’s powers of deduction, but more than that, I ask for Watson’s seemingly infinite patience with friends.”

You can even “pray fiction” against certain character traits and tendencies (or outcomes):

  • “Father, deliver me from Scarlett O’Hara’s blend of self-centeredness and petulance.”
     
  • “Lord, save me from the falsity and cynicism that drove Shakespeare’s Richard III. Help me never to use and abuse people like that.”
     
  • “God, I never want to be twisted and deformed by greed like Gollum in Lord of the Rings. Help me not to cling to mere things. I want to value only what You call ‘precious’.”

Once you start “praying fiction,” you may find yourself praying while you read, which can actually have the effect of making fiction even more real to you…and turning a good story into a rewarding spiritual experience.

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