Not a month goes by that people don’t stop me in the street and ask to pray for me, lay hands on me, ask God’s help to heal me. I feel as awkward and uncomfortable about it now as I did many years ago. However, I think I’ve finally worked out why I feel this way, and a few days ago when it happened again I smiled and firmly declined the offer and moved on.
In the past I had found it awkward to say no because I hadn’t formulated a reason that satisfied me, I only knew I didn’t want to be prayed over. Yet I believe in the power of prayer. I pray. I know that there are people who pray for me. I don’t necessarily believe that there is a power that will intercede specifically to answer my requests. Maybe this power will, maybe not. One important thing that prayer does is help me sort out what I really want, and what I can do about it. My mother used to say “God helps those who help themselves.” My praying can motivate and inspire myself, give me courage, strength and some understanding of my journey.
People who approach me in the street have no humility or respect for the power of my own prayer, and the prayer and thoughts of others. I don’t like their arrogance that their intercession will achieve more than others, or their assumption that my prayers have not already been answered. I don’t trust their motives. I suspect that many approach strangers because it feeds their own sense what their spirituality means to them without considering the spiritual beliefs of others. This is offensive. I suspect that it feeds their need for power or affirmation of themselves and does more to nourish their own spirituality and faith than that of the person they’re approaching. In my heart I’ve always known that it’s not right. I think that it’s potentially disempowering and demeaning; it’s disrespectful and arrogant. And that’s why I say no.