Author: Claire Coleman

Publisher: Westbow Press, 2012,

ISBN:  978-1-4497-2595-2

This is a book about prayer, or rather, a book about praying. Other than sex, I can’t think of another subject as private as this one. There are many books available listing prayers for different occasions, but I cannot think of another one that suggests whom we should pray for and the direction that that particular prayer might take; the finished product, though, is left to us.

The author states her purpose directly: “The concept behind Special Intentions is simple: ‘Say one prayer, every day, for someone other than yourself.‘ “ There is a caveat to all of this, of course, and that is that one must first believe in a god of some kind. Prayer to that god then follows quite naturally.

The author Morris West expressed it well. “Once you accept the existence of God - however you define him, however you explain your relationship to him; then you are caught forever with his presence at the centre of all things.” And, West might have added, ‘then prayer makes perfect sense.’ Those who regularly say their prayers probably pray for someone they know with a specific end in mind: a prayer for Peter who is sick; a prayer for Ann who is traveling - that sort of thing. Claire Coleman suggests that we be a little less specific.

A native of Long Island, Claire Coleman teaches writing at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey. She has served on the Executive Board of such organizations as the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child and the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills, and she has also been actively involved with a number of organizations including the Township of Millburn’s Historical Preservation Commission, and the Millburn-Short Hills Parent Teacher Organization,. She lives with her family in New Jersey.

Here are some examples of the kind of non-specific prayer that Special Intentions: Remembering Others in Personal Prayer is all about:

Homeless

The cities have hundreds of them, maybe even thousands.
Small villages and towns might have one.
A homeless person.......
...pray that tonight he or she is safe, and sheltered from the elements.

Bullied

Somewhere,today a kid will be bullied......
He wishes he could be invisible in school,
and he does everything he can to be small, unnoticed,
or to disappear from the sight of others .....
Please say a pray for the bullied child today,
so that he does not disappear from everyone’s sight.

When a Pet Dies

For many people their pets are like family members,
so when the pet has to be put down
the grief and loss cut deep into their hearts.....
Say a prayer today so that someone mourning the loss of a pet
will find comfort in the days ahead.

The Third Collect for Evening Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer begins ‘Lighten our darkness,we beseech thee O Lord ...‘ Claire Coleman’s thoughtful and creative collection is designed to do just that. As ‘believers‘ she is encouraging us to ‘Lighten the darkness‘ in which others may find themselves at any given time. And if, as St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross suggests, ‘Prayer is the highest achievement of which the human person is capable‘ then Ms Coleman’s invitation is a noble one indeed.


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