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How to Pray for a Stranger

Christ told his disciples to be the salt and light to the world, and that includes those of us who are following Him. We are not to cover or hide our light under a basket but, instead, let it shine in the world. We allow our light to shine into the world or to those that are lost—not to glorify ourselves but to point people to the actual light of the world, which is Christ. Only Christ can bring those people who are in darkness into light. Jesus also likens us to being salt. Salt is used to preserve foods or provisions like meat, and it also makes food taste better. As Christians, we are to be the salt in the world by preserving that which is good and making the world a better place. The primary way of doing this is by preaching the Gospel wherever God has placed us. Only the Gospel can provide a permanent solution to every problem in this world. If a family is suffering from disfunction, the ultimate solution is not therapy but the Gospel. You become the light and salt to that family by preaching the Gospel to them, which changes people’s hearts and sets them free from sin. 

Whether you are a student, working professional, etc., you should witness Christ where God has placed you. Of course, preaching the Gospel should also accompany demonstrating it. We cannot just preach the Gospel alone and turn a blind eye to the needs of others. That is why being the salt and light to the world involves good works. One of the ways that we can be the salt and light to the world as we preach the Gospel is by praying for strangers.

Matthew 5:13-16

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

What is the best way to pray for someone?

Praying for strangers is one of the best ways to reach out to people and preach the Gospel to them in the hope that they would repent and believe the person and work of Christ. Most people are open to being prayed for. Just approach someone and ask them if you can pray for them, and, most of the time, they will let you pray for them. 

Before praying for them, ask them if they have any specific concerns that they would like you to pray about so you will have an idea of what you can pray for them. However, don’t just pray for their concerns alone. For example, if you meet a stranger struggling financially, obviously what you will pray for the stranger is for God’s grace to be upon him or her and provision for his or her needs. While there is nothing wrong with that prayer, it misses the point. Remember, as we mentioned a while ago, the ultimate solution to every person’s problem is the Gospel. That means even if you pray for provision and provision does come to the person, it misses the point if you didn’t include the Gospel in your prayer. Whatever the needs, problems, or concerns of the stranger you are praying for, you can always pray for it and direct it toward the Gospel at the end of the prayer.

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

1 Corinthians 1:23-24

23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Suppose you meet a stranger who is broken because he has suffered rejection from people. Of course, you have to address that particular concern of this stranger. You can pray for God’s comfort for him and healing of the mental and emotional pain that he is going through. But redirect the prayer to the Gospel; tell him that he is separated from God and a recipient of God’s wrath because of his sin but, in Christ, He is accepted by God, loved, forgiven, and even adopted into His family. He is affirmed and secured in Christ and has this joy no one can ever take from him. Here is an example of this kind of prayer:

Father of mercy, You show mercy to us in times of affliction, and You give us comfort. I pray for name of the person, that You would be gracious and merciful to him and give him comfort as he goes through tough and painful times. Heal his broken heart and bind up his wounds. Thank You, Father, because in Christ we are secured, accepted, and loved. In Christ, we find eternal life and forgiveness from our sins. We have joy in Christ that no one, even the thief, can ever steal from us. I pray that name of the person would know Christ’s work on the cross. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Examining the prayer given above, note that what is prayed for first is the person’s concern, and after that, you direct whatever situation they have toward Christ. It is essential to emphasize in your prayer what it means to be “in Christ” and that only “in Christ” can we find those things, and nowhere else. This applies regardless of the stranger’s concerns. If they are sick and in need of healing, by all means, pray for healing upon the stranger. Then, you can direct your prayer to the Gospel of Christ by praying that Christ has healed us of our ultimate sickness, which is sin, and by His stripes we are healed from depravity. Another thing is that if the stranger you approached is a working professional and he or she is bothered with matters regarding their work, then you can pray for God’s grace upon them and the strength that they need as they work. In the end, you can pray for them and direct them to Christ by praying that life’s purpose is not about material wealth, career, or prestige but about living for Christ, in Whom alone we can find our purpose. 

Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

While most of the concerns or problems that you will hear from strangers are things you can pray to God for, there are concerns that you will not pray to God. For example, a stranger says to pray that he would have more likes on social media. You cannot pray to God for such a thing because the stranger is placing his security and identity on what other people think of him, and you cannot condone that. But then, how can you pray for the stranger if that is the case? You directly pray for truth to come to the stranger, which still includes the Gospel. Here is how you can do it:

Heavenly Father, in Your presence is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. I thank You because in Christ we are affirmed, accepted, and secured in Your love. Your love is the only love in which we can find satisfaction. Thank you, because in Christ our identity is not based on what people think of us but on what You think of us. I pray that name of the person will get to know Christ and the love You can show him through Your Son. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

John 8:31-32

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:36

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Never be afraid to preach the truth in your prayer. The truth is the truth; you can never hide or sugarcoat the truth in your prayer for fear that it might offend the stranger. Remember to present the truth they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Remember that, in the end, the One Who will ultimately minister to them and their hearts is the Holy Spirit. Don’t forget at the end of each prayer that you pray for strangers to ask them if you can take a tiny amount of their time so that you can preach the Gospel to them. Do not be ashamed when approaching strangers and asking them if you can pray for them. You don’t know, but a stranger you approach may need prayer. He might be about to commit suicide but, because you prayed for him and eventually preached the Gospel, the person might instead become a follower of Christ and find eternal life in Him.