Friday, July 29, 2005

Praying for Strangers

When I am driving alone, as I often did when commuting to work, sometimes I think about work-related matters, sometimes I meditate on God's Word, the Bible, and sometimes I pray. But sometimes I will notice some stranger on the street, and feel moved to pray for them, although I know nothing about them.

I don't fully understand why I get these occasional quiet urges to pray for a stranger. Sometimes I wonder whether it's a look of worry or concern that I sense in their face, but then I doubt that I get that good a look as I pass by. Maybe it's because I am aware that God is watching over everyone, believers and unbelievers, and cares about them, and wants them to trust Him, so He can guide them. I know He wants to be involved, but doesn't force Himself upon anyone.

But I know that God does answer prayer, even prayers for strangers. Scientists have repeatedly done controlled, randomized, double-blind experiments that time and again have demonstrated the effectiveness of prayer. In most of these experiments, the praying person and the prayed-for person do not know each other.

Even in the face of the scientific evidence, some disbelieve and try to explain it away, which is probably why these kinds of experiments have been done so many times. Professor Leslie Francis of the University of Bangor has studied 31 experiments (conducted to the "highest professional standards") into the effectiveness of prayer. And this research report, although not entirely Biblical, makes some interesting observations and arguments about prayer.


Anonymous said...

JC said...

Unfortunately, most of the scientific studies of the power of prayer do not take into account the faith of those praying. The Bible says that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16, NKJV) So who is righteous? Again, the Bible says that "righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ" (Rom 3:22, NIV) and "his faith is credited as righteousness". (Rom 4:5, NIV)