Although most people enjoy the excitement and delight Christmas brings, some experience heartache and pain. My friend Anna (not her real name) was one of those people. Having spent most of her childhood Christmases at the hospital with her mentally ill father, the season left a sense of dread that didn't fade as she grew older.
Anna and I had known each other for almost a year when Christmas rolled around. We met when she visited my church and asked me to pray for her. We soon developed a friendship and met often to talk and pray. As the Christmas season approached, I knew her well enough to know the holiday would be difficult for her. While I couldn't change her past, I could offer love and prayerful support as she faced another Christmas. I wondered what I could do to make our first Christmas together special. I wanted to share the joy I had for my favorite holiday in the hope that it might be contagious.
I decided to write prayers filled with encouragement, love, and hope. They would be catered just for her and serve as a tangible reminder of the words I prayed on her behalf. I modeled them after the song The Twelve Days of Christmas calling them The Twelve Prayers of Christmas.
I gave each prayer a theme that opened with praise to God and continued with blessings, Scripture, and intercession. Among the themes: friendship, joy, hope, security, healing, and love. Christmas Day was reserved for the theme of celebration, not only the celebration of Christ's birth of but also of our new friendship.
I wrote the prayers in early December so I could give them the dedicated effort they deserved without the rush of Christmas. Each prayer was one to two pages and was printed on colorful Christmas stationery. Sometimes I included a Christmas card, short story, or poem with the prayer to emphasize the theme.
I also decided to give a small gift with each prayer as a symbolic reinforcement of that day's theme. For example, Day 4 featured a prayer of security with a blanket as the gift. Another example was a vanilla-scented candle on Day 8 chosen for its soothing aroma representing peace. Here are the prayer themes and presents I used:
Present: soft sweater or vest
Present: ceramic nativity set
Present: Bible CD