this article at First Things about praying for Christopher Hitchens. For those not following the issue, Hitchens is one of the self-named "new atheists" who has attacked all faith, but especially Christianity with books such as "The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice" and "God is not Great". He was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and is undergoing treatment. A number of Christians have advocated praying for him.
What caught my eye in the original article was a statement made by The Anchoress:
I suppose if someone asks you not to pray for him, you shouldn’t.I disagree. If someone asks me to hit them, I don't feel obligated to oblige them. If my kids ask me to stop making them do homework, I certainly don't stop. Why? Because even if the person doesn't like it it is something they need. Let's face it, we all need prayer. So why should I stop praying for someone, even if they don't like it.
Of course, the secondary question is "should we pray for Mr. Hitchens? Certainly there are many people who have cancer, many of them Catholics. Perhaps I should pray for them instead, since I'd be helping a person stay alive whom I thought would make the world a better place, rather than helping someone who is bent on keeping souls from salvation. On the other hand, perhaps I should pray for him, since the bible teaches us to pray for our enemies. On the gripping hand (you win the geek award if you know what that refers to), Christopher Hitchens is not my enemy.
I must admit that I have not yet prayed for Mr. Hitchens, but if and when I do I will be praying not just for him to survive cancer, but to conquer his fears, his drinking problems, and whatever else, to find the peace and joy of a loving God.
And if you are deciding for whom to pray, please think of me. I promise I will never ask you to stop.