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5 Ways That I Pray for Others

How a Guideposts editor responds to prayer requests.

Woman praying for others on the beach during her ash wednesday reflection
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There are probably as many ways to pray for others are there are people in the universe, but here are my own notes-to-self about what to do when someone asks me to pray for them.

1)  Do it right away.
I always make time at the beginning of my day and the end of my day for some dedicated quiet time (sometimes it actually happens on a New York subway train and if that doesn’t sound like “quiet time,” well…trust me, it works). But don’t wait till you have a free moment. Do it then and there. Send a silent prayer. No one has to know. It’s just between you and the divine.

2)  Hold a good thought.
This was the phrase my father always used. If he heard that someone was facing some difficulty–a health crisis, a loss in the family. He would say, “I’ll hold a good thought for you.” And that indeed is a good description of prayer. An opening of the heart, compassion for someone’s troubles, a shared understanding. Hold that good thought.

3)  Give yourself a reminder.
In the turmoil of a busy day it’s easy enough to forget a sacred promise to pray. Jot down a note, send yourself an email or a text. I always have a yellow Post It note at my desk with a name or two scribbled on it. I can put in my pocket, pull it out at the end of a day and remember, “Oh, yes, I need to pray for…”

4)  Communicate.
I sure am grateful for the technical wizardry of emails and text messages. It makes letting someone know that you are praying for them an easy part of the prayer process. It also gives you a chance to find out how their situation might have changed or if new prayers need to be said. And it gives you an opportunity to rejoice over answered prayers.

5)  Be changed.
As the old saying goes, prayer may not change things for you but it will change you for things. This is the wonder of prayer, the reason to engage in it and take it on. Every time someone asks me to pray it’s an opportunity to grow, to change. How does prayer change the world? Simply by changing us. 

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