Friday, December 16, 2011

Praying with strangers

A friend of a friend was reviewing a book of daily prayer (Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals) meant for groups drawn from multiple traditions to pray together, either on occasion, or regularly. An interdenominational psalter of sorts. It's hard to know how a prayer book works without actually praying from it (which prompts me to think what kind of review I might write for my various breviaries, now and when I first began using them, but surely that is another set of posts!). Quaker FOF thought that for this kind of prayer resources, praying it with others from various traditions would be even more helpful in assessing the strengths and frailties of the text.

And so I found myself on a wringingly wet Wednesday praying the Anima Christi in a packed campus center with a stranger. "Blood of Christ, inebriate me..." we proclaimed. I wondered at the end of it all what those around us thought, or if what we had done in this oh so public space was just part of the general hubbub, hidden in the noise as my scientist self might say.

Quaker FOF wondered whether it felt awkward to be praying with a stranger. My first response was no, it didn't feel awkward. (Which is in part a commentary on FOF's delightful welcoming and warm soul!) When I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, most days I pray with people I know well, some of whom I have known for decades. But part of what I treasure about the Hours is the notion that I am praying with so many people I don't know. That this specific prayer is arising in all corners of the world, all the day and all the night, from people I will never meet this side of heaven, but who have chosen as I have to join in the work of praying with and for strangers.

I suspect that there is no such thing as praying with strangers. A willingness to join together to call on the Transcendent is a willingness to acknowledge an intimate truth, the sort of thing one does not share on first meetings with strangers or casual acquaintances: I believe in God. I pray.

FOF and I were both intrigued that The Prayer of St. Francis, and the Anima Christi are the prayers specified for Midday Prayer every day.


  1. Simply beautifully put.

  2. Mmmmm. Blessed be.

    This sort of example of interconnectedness and community -- how you and QFOF connected; your experience that there might well be no such thing as praying with strangers -- brings me joy.

    ("And joy, as Grandfather said..." *smile*)

  3. As a hermit I always pray alone, and find that I am never alone.