If you sensed the Holy Spirit prompting you to pray for a stranger, what should you do?
I caught a short question and answer recently on a Christian television show – – – and I don’t even know the name of the show – – – The host was answering viewer mail and one of the questions was, “What should I do if prompted to pray for a stranger?”
The host emphatically answered that you should go ahead and make supplication.
So far, so good. I agreed completely. If prompted to pray for a stranger, then by all means, do it. Seriously.
But the television host went on to explain that he thought you should approach the stranger and ask permission to pray. So the scene might be one of walking up to someone in a Hy-Vee grocery story (“where there’s a helpful smile, in every aisle”) to say, “The Lord just prompted me to pray for you and I wondered if that would be okay?”
The host stressed that he has never had someone reject such a request, implying that he has, on numerous occasions, approached a stranger and said, “God just put it on my hear to pray for you . . .”
We ought to break this down into two questions.
- If I feel prompted to pray for a stranger, should I do so?
- If I feel prompted to pray for a stranger, should I approach him or her and ask permission to have a word of prayer?
As I have posted in the past, I am a firm believer in secret prayers. Not only do I think there is a place to pray for strangers, but I have done so on numerous occasions. I have a small dream that when I get to the other side, I’ll be able to read the files on how secret prayers have been answered. But I don’t have a biblical defense of my hope. I just think it would be kind of cool. But heaven will be wonderful either way.
Anyway, if we really believe in the power of prayer, is it necessary to tell the person we are praying for him or her? Wouldn’t it be better to just pray?
And how wise is it to approach a stranger and offer prayer?
Thoughts? Under what circumstances?
Maybe there is a third question, “Should I expect the Holy Spirit to prompt me to approach strangers and ask permission to pray for them?”