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Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 5, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
"... offers readers a wonderfully written, shimmering, accessible and wholly honest account of a journey into intercessory prayer. It is a journey that more of us might be encouraged to take because River Jordan has been willing to show us how."
-Englewood Review of Books
"I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. It made me aspire to be a better person. It made me be more aware of the strangers I encounter in my life and of how much a simple word of kindness can mean to someone. I cannot recommend this book enough - I will be buying copies to give to several of my friends."
"...an inspiring read that I hope will encourage people to step outside of their comfort zones and show a little out-of-the-ordinary kindness to strangers."
-The Parchment Girl
"Jordan has managed to write a beautiful book that I have been pushing at people for weeks."
-A Worn Path
"Praying for Strangers will bless you and alter the way you see those seemingly random people that God places daily in your path."
-Ron Hall, New York Times Bestselling co-author of Same Kind of Different As Me
"To escape her own fear - a paralyzing terror every parent of a soldier understands - River Jordan resolves to pray for a stranger every single day for a year. She finds them in bus stations, bathroom stalls, cocktail parties and parking lots . . . . 'Today, you are my stranger,' she tells them. And it's the beginning of something extraordinary. Praying for Strangers reminds us (through the power of this tiny, seemingly insignificant act) that we can never assume know the vast universe that exists inside the person next to us - or the one we are yet to discover inside ourselves. I have my next year's resolution."
-Neil White, author of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts
"By means of story, anecdote and calm persuasion, River Jordan suggests an unexpected remedy for both our cultural malaise and our sense of spiritual powerlessness: that we make a habit of praying, not for people we know, but for strangers, in an unheralded, untrumpeted gift of Grace. The very act is compelling and quietly subversive in a culture where strangers equal threat and gifts demand notice. And in the end, the gift you might be giving is one to yourself. Read and consider the wonder, which will continue to grow on you, long after the book is done."
-Janis Owens, author of The Schooling of Claybird Catts
Top Customer Reviews
It began as a New Year's resolution, promises made to self that Jordan admits she rarely keeps. But for some reason, in this particular year, with her sons in harm's way and out of her ability to protect them, Jordan managed to keep this resolution. She prayed for people she met at the supermarket. She prayed for people she met waiting in line to pay a bill. She prayed for construction workers she passed. And for the most part, not only did she pray for them, but she also told them about it.
Now, if you stop to think about this, it seems an impossible task. How many people would appreciate a stranger accosting them in a parking lot, telling them she would be praying for them? In that scenario, my first thought would probably be to back away slowly and then high-tail it out of there. The people who Jordan met each day did exactly the opposite. They spilled their guts; they got teary-eyed; they hugged her. Some even prayed for Jordan.
Praying for Strangers was less about prayer, in the end, and more about human kindness. The act of a stranger telling you they will be praying for you turns your day around, no matter the prayer. Jordan brought her resolution to people of all creeds, colors, religions, and economic statuses, and every single one thanked her.
The changes to Jordan's own life were perhaps the most miraculous. She prayed for candidates on both sides of the aisle during the 2008 presidential campaign, and a change occurred inside of her: "[M]y amazing discovery is that the longer you pray for someone, the more you lose that crust of ambivalence, that twinge of not liking them. Those things fall away, and instead sometimes there's just a flash . . . that if that person walked through the door, I'd be pleased to meed them in that moment. Somewhere in that slice of time I spent praying . . . I became less frustrated by their presence" (210).
Jordan also found people who she needed as much as they needed her prayers. At a rest stop, she met a woman who was humming along happily, seemingly in need of nothing. Still, it struck Jordan that she was "the one" for the day, and before long this happened:
"Anything special that you need prayer for?"
She nods yes as tears well up in her eyes. "My son died two months ago."
This struck close to home with me, the safety of my sons somewhat being a catalyst for this resolution. So I break my policy about public praying. Right there, in the middle of that rest stop, I wrap my arms around her and whisper a prayer for her broken heart. One mother to another. (188)
The true message of the book is, as I said before, less about prayer itself and more about caring for other humans. We all pass hundreds of strangers each day, week, month, and year, usually ignoring them as a whole. Jordan accomplished something extraordinary in her year of praying for strangers: she noticed them. She connected with them. She says near the end of the book: "It was one of those days again. For what felt like the three-hundredth time, I decided I just wasn't going to tell anyone that I was praying for them. It goes against my nature. It takes courage. It takes time; all those blessed interferences take me away from other obligations and pursuits. It takes some kind of faith to believe that my prayers might matter to a stranger. The bottom line -- it takes. But it also gives."
River Jordan--yes, that's her real name--was facing a tough New Year's Eve in 2009. Her grown sons were heading off to war, in the service of the United States, and she had no motivation to come up with a New Year's resolution. In the soil of her doubts and fears, a startling idea took root: What if she turned her thoughts outward? What if she helped carry the burdens of others through prayer? A noble thought, yes, but River tells of her journey in that honest style that has endeared her to friends and fans of her fiction. As her year-long resolution played out, she faced strangers who intimidated her, moved her, taunted, and clung to her. In her own words: "Instead of discovering how much the world needs me, I've discovered that I was the one who needed the world."
River Jordan has penned a number of novels that combine the best of contemporary literary fiction with Southern gothic nuances. Her book, "The Messenger of Magnolia Street" read like a mix of Harper Lee and Dean Koontz. How could I not call myself a fan? Here, though, in her first non-fiction book, she applies her wise, warm, and open-hearted approach to real-life situations. It is inspiring stuff, potentially life-changing even. The book not only entertains, it draws out laughter, tears, and a bubbling, infectious belief that we too can pray for strangers and be changed ourselves in the process.
What I found even more pleasing is that the book did not contain some new age nonsense or an abhorent reconstruction of my Christian faith. The book easily does not get caught up in religiosity. It can be read by all faiths and should not damage anyones core beliefs on prayer. You really get a feel for the people she encounters and their reactions. A few times I felt the storyline drifted into some uninteresting areas but it was not enough to hold back the power of the book. Nothing is perfect. Ms. Jordan did one heck of a job with this book and deserves whatever accolades are bestowed upon her. Watching the video of her above (after reading the book) gave me a self satisfying feeling. I saw someone real, and thats not common in our current society. It's a book you'll miss after finishing it. I look foward to giving it to someone else. Peace.