I write Humanitarian Prayers to encourage people to pray for those suffering most in our world. There are two main ways that people react when they hear about something terrible that has happened or is happening: with guilt or with compassion. Here are the definitions according to Merriam-Webster.
Sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
Feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy.
I want to promote compassion by sharing my prayer intentions with others. I pray out of compassion, not guilt, and want others to do the same. I was not born with a strong sense of compassion: it developed in me as a result of extremely difficult life experiences.
If I’m talking about Rohingya refugees and you feel bad because you’ve never heard of them or never donated to refugees, I don’t want you to feel that way. You didn’t commit an offense and you don’t deserve blame.
If you believe in God as a Christian, you know that prayers can make a difference.
If you never give money, your prayers are adequate because they’re making a difference.
I believe that as a result of my prayers, one Rohingya rape survivor who wanted to get an abortion will decide not to, that one Yemeni child who was injured by an airstrike will survive long enough to receive lifesaving medical care, or that person will open their heart to welcome refugees. I may never know what results will come from my prayers, but such possibilities motivate me to pray for those in the bleakest of circumstances.
I pray out of compassion because when I read about what’s happening in the world on my Apple News app’s feed on my iPhone, I become conscious of others’ distress. Knowing the challenges other people face makes me want to do something about it, and gives me “a desire to alleviate it.” That’s why I pray.
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