praying through the circles

We pray for those we know and love,
and that’s easy—
thanksgiving flows naturally out of what we think should be;
intercession out of what we think shouldn’t be
within the familiarity of our circles of intimacy.

Sometimes, we also pray for those we don’t know,
but for whom those we do know and love have asked us to pray
because they know and love them.
And thus is created a wider concentric circle
that expands our understanding of intimacy.

Occasionally, we pray for those we don’t know
whose circumstances we glean from the news:
the loved ones of those killed in car accidents,
house fires or random violence.
And though the initial thought may well be,
“How horrible that would be were it to happen to me,”
there remains a sense of the horror of it happening to anyone,
and an even wider concentric circle is shaped of my intimacy.

Every now and then, we pray for those we don’t know—
the unnamed persons who make up the statistics
of the unemployed, the foreclosed upon,
the homeless, the poor …
though it’s true, is it not, more of us now know
some of the people who comprise those numbers …
more of us are some of the people who comprise those numbers ….

We move in our praying from the natural ease
of simply thinking of those we know and love
into the discipline of an imagination cultivated to think of people—
all people—as people who are loved—
sons and daughters, brothers and sisters,
fathers and mothers—
just like us—
children of You, our God—
just like us.

May we pray the circles, God—
extending our love further than we knew we could.
May we find ourselves stretched, our God—
stretching ever toward your wide inclusive intimacy.

Amen and amen.

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