I mostly believe in the power of prayer. I have no solid proof that praying for something or about someone actually works, but as a person of faith, albeit not of the rock-solid kind, I like to think it helps. And I don't see how it could hurt. Right? I am looking at you, my faithless/atheist/agnostic blogging friends (and I will really be looking at you at the end of this post as well).
As I commented in another blog (probably in several blogs, actually, and perhaps even here), last year, a priest said that God answers our prayers, but not necessarily how we want them. I liked that thought. Well, not so much that it means I may not get what I want, but more so that it helps to explain why sometimes legions of people pray for something for days and weeks, and then it all seems for naught as they did not get what they so fervently prayed for. I can't say that if I prayed for something major, like the health of a loved one, and I did not get what I wanted, I would be okay with that. But thinking that my prayers are being answered in the way God planned helps me in everyday things.
Regardless, for me, praying is pretty personal. I tend to do it at home or at church, and I am not one to broadcast it. Which is why I often get annoyed when people or a news entity on Facebook posts about something bad that happened, and several or even dozens of people post that they are praying. It would be weird for me to pray for people I don't know or don't know well. But even if I do know the person, I don't feel the need to announce on Facebook that I just prayed for them. The whole thing seems a little insincere to me.
And that leads me to the larger point of this post: Should you pray for someone if you were not asked to? Will the people you saw on the news who just lost their house to a fire know or even care that you sent your prayers to them? What if they don't believe in God? Is it enough if you do, or will it just be offensive to them? And what about when you read about someone's exciting news or difficult event in their blog or twitter feed? There have been times I wanted to say, "I will say a prayer for you that you get through this" or something to that effect, but I don't if I know the person is not a believer or if I am unsure. So I may instead say something like, "I will keep you in my thoughts," even though that seems almost insincere to me. But I just don't want to risk offending that person.
Prayer can be a tricky thing, and it is obviously something I have thought about. What do you think about praying for people who don't necessarily want your prayers? If you don't believe in God, would you be offended if someone prays for you? Whether or not you are a person of faith, does it make sense to pray for random people? Is it a nice gesture that can't hurt or somewhat pointless because you have no connection to them?
I find myself ending this blog with "Like a Prayer" (Madonna) and "That's Why We Pray" (MC Hammer) rolling around my head. Maybe I better pray that that goes away...
P.S. I have a job interview on Thursday, and I will happily and gratefully accept your prayers, positive vibes, wishes of good luck, and anything else positive you might want to throw my way. :-)