The power of praying for strangers.  

I woke up a few mornings ago to the news that in Willesden, North London (a stone’s throw from where I used to live), a woman had been shot and several others arrested, as part of a police anti-terrorism campaign. There were mixed reports, some initially saying that the people arrested were 20, 23 and 16.

16??? 

How does a kid, aged 16 get arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences?

When I was 16, I was a little bit in love with an actor called Andrew McCarthy (‘Pretty in Pink’), didn’t know the difference between the Bros twins (which was Matt? Which was Luke?) and spent an awful lot of time worrying about boys. 

Terrorism? Destroying the people who lived in the community around me? Leaving roads in rubble? Hearts and lives broken? 

Well no, not really. Though the news that my favourite group was playing at the Manchester Empire made me fall melodramatically at the feet of my parents, begging to be allowed to go to a concert.

So, how, at 16 (or even younger) does a person end up with such rage and bitterness in their heart?  It’s no doubt related to their environment and the messages they’re indoctrinated with.  I’ve got no experience or knowledge of psychiatry or brain processes (unless you count my GCSE in Psychology, and really, you shouldn’t) but I DO know that I can pray.  

Admittedly, it’s quite hard to pray for people behind closed doors, who I don’t know or can’t picture, but lately, as I’ve been driving home from work, I’ve been praying for individual people that I drive past. 

Lest you think I’ve somehow got the intercessory life cracked and am outrageously super-holy, I’m definitely not.  But this is my way of fighting back against the statistics which say people are less interested in God than ever before.  What if we could change our country, with some ‘driveby prayer’ on a regular commute every day?  Silently praying blessing for the man opposite us on the tube? Or asking God to impact the life of the woman next to us on a plane?

At first, it feels incredibly silly. You don’t know who you’re praying for, or even if they’re already a believer (could be!), but after a while, it starts to become a bit of fun.  

Lord…see the bald man over there in the white trainers…could you bless him, give him a chance to hear about you?

God…the woman on the crossing with a stick..she looks like she’s in loads of pain. Could you heal her and let her know that you did it?

The world really is in turmoil at the moment and many of us feel powerless in the face of all this change, terror and seeming instability.  

But what if ‘Driveby Prayer’ has an impact in eternal ways we’ll probably never see?  

It’s worth a try…

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