“May I Pray For You?”

“Excuse me …”
“Yes?”
“What’s your name?”
“Meagan…any reason you ask?”
“Yes. Meagan, would it be okay if I prayed for you?”
“Why…”
“Well, I’d like to ask Jesus if He might help you with your eyes.”
“Ah.”

This one. It happens to most of us at one time or another. I admit that I’ve heard about it plenty of times, but didn’t experience it myself until I was eighteen or so. I hear all kinds of derisive comments about the situation, even from religious blind people. They hate pity as much as I do, and they consider the prayers insulting, or at least misguided.

I tend to react differently, and I must say that my approach is very unpopular. No, I’m not wild about the idea of people asking God to fix me. I wager that He would cure me (or not) with or without entreaties from strangers. I fight the good fight where negative stereotypes are concerned—you all know this, dearest readers—and I discourage pity as often as possible. And yet …

There is something so earnest and genuine about these offers of prayer. The requests might be misguided, yes. The desire to see us cured is misplaced, certainly. In many cases, we’re at peace with our lives as they are, and a cure is potentially frightening to many of us. So no, I don’t actively encourage anyone, stranger or otherwise, to pray for or even wish for a cure.

On the very few occasions when someone goes out of their way to ask if they can pray for me, I do my best to respond with grace. I respect and appreciate their openhearted compassion, even if I wish there wasn’t a need for it in the first place. I know in my heart that they have the purest intentions, at least most of the time. And, while I generally take issue with the “good intentions” card, there are, in my mind at least, exceptions. Will my life change in any way if a stranger goes home and prays for me? I suspect not. Will it hurt me, though? I don’t see how. Will I gain anything by berating them for even asking? No. Will I further my own cause by being harsh with them? Definitely not.

I’m at a point now where I decline these offers of prayer as graciously as I can. I spend too much time battling the idea that we’re just waiting for someone—anyone—to “make the blind to see” as it is. Still … I have to celebrate the goodwill of these people. Society is apathetic and individualistic to such a degree that these small kindnesses, however I might feel about them, remain special to me.

If you must pray, then pray for me, by all means. I ask, though, that you pray for my well-being. Pray that my various issues remain manageable. Pray that I continue to cross paths with fortune.

Don’t pray for the blind girl. Pray for the girl.

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14 thoughts on ““May I Pray For You?”

  1. Thanks so much for this post! As a Christian, I find the idea that people want to pray for me both kind and insulting. It’s like God expects THEM to take care of entreating Him for my needs, as though this is not something I do on a daily basis. I, like you, would rather they pray for open doors from prospective employers or academic institutions, advances in technology that increase productivity and independence, and open hearts and minds from family and friends to allow us to make our mistakes like all people do. Unfortunately, because a “cure” for blindness seems much more miraculous and “proof” of God’s existence and power, that’s what many wish to pray for instead.

    I don’t object to people praying for me at home or in their churches (because I only get asked by Christians, no other religious groups), but I do draw the line at their laying hands on me in public or those same churches. I’ve been prayed over more times than I care to think about.
    I believe a couple of things do the most damage by those who claim that God wants all blind people to be healed:
    1) The prevailing theory is that if we,, the blind, don’t have enough faith, then it’s our fault we can’t see. For someone who’s accepted their blindness since birth, we know this for the untruth that it is. But for those who are struggling to come to terms with their blindness – acute, degenerative, or congenital – it can cause a very serious spiritual and emotional let-down.
    2) It does perpetuate the really troubling thought that we cannot be whole, happy people without intervention, particularly public prayer.

    I have fallen prey to many of these feelings myself over the years, and thankfully realize how truly damaging they are, even if they are well-meaning.
    So, as Meagan said, pray for us, surely. Pray for understanding, for open minds, for easier access to technology… But if a cure DOES come about, it’s more likely to be scientific rather than divine, and to me, that’s OK.

    • I thought you might have some interesting insight on this one, since you’re a Christian and I’m a former Christian. I knew that my general opinion would be unpopular, but it seems that most people appreciate where I’m coming from, even if they disagree with my approach. I appreciate kindness no matter where it’s coming from.

    • I get this too often to be healthy. And more times than I can count, I’ve point blank asked myself. Are they trying to fix our blindness or fix us? As Blindbeader said, many’s the person who sees blindness in particular–and disability in general–as something that either we, or our parents, deserved for a lack of faith or some other such thing. But I think it has less to do with thinking they’re helping us and more with thinking they’re taking care of us. But it’s more than the fixing of the broken thing. In doing that, they’re also asking for a guide, of sorts, for us. Either someone to explain to us why the church is necessary (I’ve had this), or just someone to take care of the several things they can’t imagine we do on our own–like, say, ducking across the street to grab a coffee.

      The problem with this mentality, and this is why I long ago didn’t subscribe to any religion in particular, is it’s encouraged by both the culture and the literature. See songs like Amazing Grace, for example. the blind are disadvantaged. Broken. Lost, if you will. they need fixing. Finding. Saving. Bringing up to your level. So long as that’s a thing, little events like these are probably going to be a fact of life. They annoy me, but they certainly don’t make my life overcomplicated.

      • I know what you mean about the fixing aspect. At face value, it’s probably a desire to do us good. I imagine that the majority of Christians (I’m sure there are other religious groups that do this but I haven’t personally met any) aren’t overthinking it. They’re just trying to be good people, however differently I might interpret that. But I think you have a point in that the blind are always considered lowly and in need of a miracle to become equal in The Church. I’m curious as to whether any blind Christians have felt isolated by this?

  2. I think if people want to pray for me or anyone or anything else in private on their own time, OK, whatever, it’s like wishing on stars to me. But I suspect what they want is to perform their sight restoration rituals right in your face, right in public, in the bread aisle, in the coffee shop, at the restaurant, at the bus stop, very loudly for all onlookers to see. If it is that, I’m going to have to very politely and respectfully refuse and kind gestures be damned. Attention randoms, would you like to know what would be the absolutely most wonderful kindness you can do for me? Accept me right this second as a blind person, completely, without fear or doubt or reservations, and think of me as a whole complete wonderful human being just like you. That’s gonna be hard, isn’t it? Well, nothing worth doing was ever easy, so get on with it, soldiers! LOL!

  3. when I first started school we had classes every Friday called RI or religious instruction or RE religious education which I listened but never really took it in. my aunt and uncle got me a cassette of bible stories for children for Christmas one year which I listened to for a while enjoying it but I was a child back then and I eventually stopped listening to this as I’m not religious by any means or I don’t follow religion. if one wishes to follow religion it’s their choice it shouldn’t have to be pushed upon us. a couple of times I have had people try to put their hands on me and pray once it was a whole class of it but when they did this it wasn’t loud it was more softly spoken but I always felt like crying when this was done although the tears never did come I just felt weird the second time I was at a kidney kids camp and the same thing happened again but I think I am one who tries to be nice and as an aside my aunt and uncle are jahovas witnesses who don’t believe in blood transfusions at all but their religion doesn’t bother us they are family and that’s what matters. Whenever I ws in hospital for my 2 kidney transplants and then going onto dialysis my aunt and uncle never mind their beliefs still came and saw me almost every day when I was in hospital and when I was out of hospital they understood that I needed the transfusions as I was struggling healthwise at the time and as I say often times family comes before religion. I know you may disagree with that but it’s again my opinion.

  4. As one who subscribes to no particular religion (although over the years I’ve come to realize I take a more Deistic view of life), I refuse as politely as I can or, like some who’ve already posted, suggest that they pray for things like open doors with employers or that I find other opportunities to improve my life. And of course I suggest that the do it next time they’re in church instead of while we’re sitting on stools at the Karaoke bar. I had a guy not long ago who prayed that I would see the sunset that was happening right then and he couldn’t quite believe it when I said I hadn’t seen it. He said he’d pray harder and never mind when I told him I’ve never seen before and therefore can’t really miss it.

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  6. This is horrifying to me. We are adopting a 5 year old blind boy from China, and I’m trying to educate myself on how dumb everyone is going to be about him.

    How do you not go about your day throat punching everyone you meet? I applaud you.

    • Hi there. Honestly, the key is to be as empathetic as possible without being willing to roll over and take what people give. I generally do my best to be as kind and gracious as I can, since most people will not respond well to harshness. Best thing you can do with your child is to educate as many sighted people as you can, and encourage him to do the same when he’s old enough to do so. I hope all goes well for you!

      • Thanks! We are trying already. We feel at a disadvantage not having any blind people to sit down with (that aren’t 100 years old and lost sight due to eyeball old age) and talk about every day life and useful devices with.

        In the mean time, we have some Braille kids books, and we are looking into O&M. We are excited, once we realized that he isn’t scared of being blind, and so we shouldn’t be. 🙂

        Your blog is hilarious. Someone posted a link on Facebook today and I read a few of your posts. I appreciate your candor.

    • Kudos to you for adopting this little boy from China. As a personal friend of Meagan’s, a fellow blogger, and (I hope) a realatively normal human being who happens to be blind… please let me know if I can assist you at all on your journey. Meagan has stated it bluntly before: blindness can be frustrating, inconvenient, and downright demoralizing, and 95% of the time it has nothing to do with the everyday tasks of being blind, but everything to do with someone’s perceptions of the same. 🙂

      • Thanks! I’m sure I’ll have 1000 questions that I haven’t thought of yet.

        I’m trying to refrain from buying anything that technology will render useless until we can teach him Braille.

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