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Review: Praying for Strangers

April 1, 2011

When both of River Jordan‘s sons were being deployed – one to Iraq and the other to Afghanistan – she knew she had to do something to help herself deal with the worry.  River doesn’t consider herself particularly religious and certainly considers her relationship with God to be private, but it came to her that in order to help herself she had to pray for others.  So, her resolution for 2009 was to pray for a different stranger every day.  As she would go about her business, she would spot someone she felt might need her prayers and they became her stranger for the day.  She thought about her stranger all day and prayed for them that night.   At first, she kept it to herself but very quickly found herself compelled to approach the stranger and explain her resolution to them.  This was totally out of character for the introverted Jordan, but, to her, it seemed like the right thing to do.  To her surprise, the strangers’ reactions were almost always positive and thankful.

Jordan found that her resolution often made a difference in others’ lives and definitely made a difference in hers.  As she would recall the stories to her husband each evening, he would urge her to write them down and the result is her new memoir, Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit.

I’m much like Jordan in the fact that I’m not overly religious and certainly don’t wear my religion on my sleeve, so I was surprised at just how moved I was by this book.  I think I was crying by page three and cried off and on throughout the book.  Jordan’s words are so eloquent, sincere, and compelling.  I was engrossed in the book from the very start and needed to know every stranger’s story.  Jordan learned so much about humanity and our need for connection with others and shares what she learned in Praying for Strangers.

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.

Challenges: Memorable Memoir Challenge

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
43 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2011 6:35 am

    Sounds like a touching story Kathy. I like when a story moves me.

  2. April 1, 2011 7:04 am

    I would love to do something like this. I imagine it really is quite uplifting for the soul! Love the sound of this book.

  3. April 1, 2011 7:46 am

    Years ago when my husband was ill a stranger approached him and asked if it was ok to to pray for him. Although it was a very Christian prayer (my husband was Jewish) he was touched by the act. I never forgot the moment either.

    I’m adding this one on my TBR list — thanks!

  4. April 1, 2011 7:55 am

    I am often one who prays for others, and the premise of this book sounds so intriguing to me. I believe that prayer really works, and the fact that Jordan went around praying for strangers is so heartening to me. I would love to read this book and am going to have to keep an eye out for it!

  5. April 1, 2011 7:55 am

    Nice review, Kathy. I sounds like an emotional, thoughtful book. I’ll look for it.

  6. April 1, 2011 9:03 am

    Kathy, thank you so much for highlighting this book. I love the concept of praying for strangers. I have often prayed for family and friends and even just friends I saw across the room on Sundays, but I don’t recall praying for a stranger. It’s very intriguing. I am a big believer in prayer and so I’ll be on the lookout for this book.

  7. Michele@aReadersRespite permalink
    April 1, 2011 9:06 am

    Sometimes a book is brought to your attention at precisely the right time….this is one of those….thanks for that.

  8. April 1, 2011 9:40 am

    Wow, crying by page 3 – looks like this is one that could make a difference in one’s life!

  9. April 1, 2011 9:45 am

    Wow, this sounds like such a fabulous book. I love when a book moves me like that. I’m going to keep my eye out for this one.
    P.S. I really think you’ll love 13 Little Blue Envelopes. 🙂

  10. April 1, 2011 11:05 am

    This seems like such a moving book! I’m not a very religious person either, but I am sure I would love this book as much as you did.

  11. April 1, 2011 11:43 am

    A very compelling review, of a book I really want to read.

  12. April 1, 2011 11:49 am

    Would really want to read this book,nice review!

  13. April 1, 2011 12:16 pm

    What a wonderful idea she had. And, to let people know you are praying for them. The video made me tear up so I can imagine what the book will do to me. I’m buying this one. I can’t wait to get it from the library.

    • April 1, 2011 12:17 pm

      Sorry, that was me. I forgot to log out of the Foodie’s Reading Challenge.

  14. April 1, 2011 1:05 pm

    For years I’ve tried to make it a point to say nice things to people and smile at everyone. Sometimes I just get a frown or a stare in return, but normally people smile back, or thank me for a complement on their clothing or whatever little thing I’ve done. It never fails to make my day better.

  15. April 1, 2011 1:06 pm

    This does sound like a very touching book. Wonderful review, Kathy. 🙂

  16. April 1, 2011 1:09 pm

    This book sounds so touching. To pray for someone every day and write about it is a really moving thing to do.

  17. April 1, 2011 1:47 pm

    Oh man! I have been waiting anxiously for this book to come out!!! I wanted a copy so badly at SIBA but all I got was the flyer – believe it or not I STILL have the flyer! I’m off to order the book right now…thank you for the lovely review and reminder it was coming out!

  18. April 1, 2011 1:53 pm

    wow, that sounds powerful..not sure if I am up to crying through a book at the moment, but I will have to keep it in mind.

  19. Beth Hoffman permalink
    April 1, 2011 1:55 pm

    Lovely review, Kathy. I’ve heard so many good things about this book!

    Happy weekend!

  20. April 1, 2011 2:21 pm

    WOW — just WOW! I think it’s incredible that this book had that reaction for you! Sounds powerful!

  21. April 1, 2011 3:08 pm

    This book sounds wonderful, something that would give all of us the pause we need in our day to day lives. I should check this book out.

  22. Pam Keener permalink
    April 1, 2011 3:15 pm

    Thanks for introducing me to another book I need to read & thanks for the review.
    Love & Hugs,

  23. April 1, 2011 3:41 pm

    Lovely thoughts…it sounds like a book that really can make a difference.

  24. April 1, 2011 4:19 pm

    Wow. This sounds so profound. I love this idea. I must add this to my TBR. Thanks for the review and for bringing this to my attention.

  25. April 1, 2011 6:15 pm

    This sounds like an amazing book, Kathy!

  26. April 1, 2011 8:29 pm

    What a powerful book, to hold you like that right from the first few pages!

    This is one that you were introduce to at SIBA? I’m not familiar with the title (well, I am now … thank you!)

  27. stacybuckeye permalink
    April 1, 2011 9:19 pm

    This book lloks amazing. Any book that makes you want to be a better person is a keeper. And it says volumes that you’ll be giving it to friends.

  28. April 1, 2011 10:35 pm

    I had not heard of this book before, but I ma now adding it to my TBR list. Thanks.

  29. April 2, 2011 6:05 am

    You made me want to read this. The cover somewhat reminded me of Murakami’s After Dark. I’m going to look for this book.

  30. April 2, 2011 12:37 pm

    It’s amazing what one person can do to that touches people’s lives. We all have the capacity to be spiritual and to use that gift to comfort and help others.

  31. April 2, 2011 3:52 pm

    Wow, this sounds like a powerful book. Thanks for the review!

  32. April 2, 2011 6:18 pm

    This has to be one of your best reviews yet. I am definitely adding it to my MUST READ NOW. She must be an incredibly strong woman to touch the lives of complete strangers through the simple gesture of a sincere & heartfelt prayer.

  33. April 2, 2011 7:44 pm

    This review has moved me to seek this book out…I’m much like you in regards to not wearing my religion on my sleeve, but I’m filled with faith and pray daily. This one sounds like an incredible book!!

  34. April 2, 2011 7:46 pm

    This does sound powerful and memorable. And what a creative way to deal with her worry.

  35. Thoughts of Joy permalink
    April 3, 2011 5:08 pm

    What an endorsement! I’m curious and am going to watch the YouTube you provided.

  36. April 3, 2011 8:41 pm

    I love this post! What a wonderful woman, what a wonderful testimony, what a wonderful way to live (not to mention deal with one’s worry). Thanks for this great post, Kathy!

  37. April 4, 2011 9:29 pm

    WOW~ I’m so appreciative of all of these comments. River is a fellow author friend of mine and I love seeing this. I’m hoping this book starts a movement–and this is exactly how it will happen. Thanks again for the great review, Kathy!

  38. April 6, 2011 2:15 pm

    Normally these are the types of books I don’t touch with a ten foot pole, but considering how much you enjoyed it and you aren’t an overly religious person..that has my interest with this one. I’ll have to keep it in mind. I’ll probably recommend it to a lot of family too since they are religious and it sounds like something they would like.

  39. April 7, 2011 5:54 pm

    Wow – an interesting and wholly unexpected reaction! Thanks for putting it in a bit of context for those of us new to your blog – and for a really whole-hearted recommendation!

  40. April 8, 2011 6:34 am

    What a gorgeous looking cover! I’m so glad you loved this book so much.

  41. April 28, 2011 3:23 pm

    There is a difference in religion and spirituality. This is a beautiful example.
    This made my day. Thank you.

  42. May 4, 2011 4:45 pm

    Oh Thank you one and all for your comments. I certainly understand those who say they wouldn’t normally read this type of book — trust me. I never meant to WRITE this type of book. I think when you read it you will see that it is really about our making a human connection in the world and how our life can be enriched by it. Kathy – thank you so much for featuring Praying for Strangers and it was a pleasure to finally meet you in person in Greenville!

    Many blessings,

    River Jordan

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