Memories are curious things. A person or event from our distant past can lie dormant and forgotten in the deepest recesses of our brains for literally years at a time, only to be stirred to life in a split-second by a glimpse or sound or smell of something that calls that memory to mind.
When the face of a friend or acquaintance whom I’ve not seen for decades springs suddenly and unbidden to mind, I cannot help but wonder why. Rosalind Goforth, the wife of a Canadian missionary to China, put forth one explanation in the following poem, which I love and long-ago learned by heart:
I cannot tell why there should come to me
A thought of someone miles and years away,
In swift instance on the memory,
Unless there is a need that I should pray.
Perhaps just then my friend has fiercer fight,
A more appalling weakness, a decay
Of courage, darkness, some lost sense of right;
And so, in case he needs my prayers, I pray.
This is something I strive to practice in my own life. When such a memory is triggered, I take it as a signal to pray. If distant friends or relatives are in my thoughts, they’re in my prayers, too.
Most of the time, this just entails my asking God to pour out His blessings and strength and grace upon my friend, then going on about my daily business with nary a second thought. But on a few occasions, I’ve been privileged and amazed to later learn how urgently those prayers were needed and appreciated at the very moment they were offered.
I find this very comforting. Because I know that the God who impresses me to pray for others just when they need it most will likewise prompt others to intercede for me in my time of need (which, incidentally, is 24/7 and is also the reason God gave me a praying mother — but that's another post for another day).
When others are in our thoughts, shouldn't they be in our prayers, as well?