By Samantha Freda
WilmingtonFAVS news intern
At Wrightsville United Methodist Church, a sort of spiritual project was taken on for this year’s Lenten Study—a five week course following a book by author River Jordan called “Praying For Strangers”.
This book was written by a woman who—after having two sons deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan—sought comfort in the act of praying for others. Jordan’s book and accompanying blog are both a reflection of her experience and a guideline for how to engage in a daily practice of prayer for others, in fact, prayer for complete strangers.
Jordan wrote this book based off of this personal experience, a time during which she would pick a person she came across each day and pray for them. In “Praying for Strangers,” Jordan describes how she would often ask a person if they minded if she said a prayer for them, and more times than not that person would have something to share with her—a reason for needing prayer.
The Rev. Bob Bauman, senior pastor of WUMC, explained how 60-70 members of the church read the book and met once a week and share their experiences of participating in this practice themselves.
“I wanted to move the congregation toward an awareness of our daily journey, the people we look past and how that cuts us off from what is around us,” Bauman said. “As we begin to really recognize these people we come across, we realize that they have stories to tell just like we do.”
In these weekly meetings, Bauman opened with his own reflections, then they broke into small groups and went over the Twelve Keys, an aspect of Jordan’s website that provides discussion points for those reading the book together.
“Most people of faith struggle with prayer. Jordan’s method offers the liberation of something as simple as just giving another person a one sentence blessing as you pass them on the street,” Bauman said.
The course, which concluded a few weeks ago, resulted in many similar responses of feeling more connected with the world around them.
“It was powerful to watch that many people share a notion of integration, and sharing stories about being unexpectedly blessed while carrying out this exercise,” Bauman said.
Wrightsville United Methodist Church, which has Sunday services at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:15, consists of about 2000 members and is located on 4 Live Oak Drive in Wrightsville Beach. Phone: 910- 262-6409. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org