Focused prayer may be only hope

Published 1:04 am Wednesday, January 27, 2016

People are calling him crazy. He agrees, but says he is comfortable being this kind of crazy.

What is the idea causing James Twynam to get attention from all over the world, including diverse media outlets — even Fox News? It is the idea of bringing people together to pray.

Yep, this man, known as a peace troubadour, is putting together an unorthodox prayer vigil/meditation and concert in a most unlikely and dangerous setting.

On Feb. 1, Twynam, along with a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy and Buddhist monks, will sing and pray in a location in Syria, overlooking villages held by ISIS. In addition, people worldwide are stopping for 15 minutes on that day to send prayers of peace to the Middle East.

Twyman said he’s witnessed united efforts like this work in the past.

“I’ve seen it work again and again,” he said. “I was in Iraq in 1998 when millions of people offered prayers of peace for that tragic situation, and against all odds a peaceful agreement was signed.”

The co-sponsor for the Peace Vigil for the People of Syria is The Abrahamic Reunion. This group consists of Jewish, Christian, Muslin and Druze clergy, men and women, Israelis and Palestinians, working together for peace in the holy land.

“Even Fox News featured the worldwide event,” Twynam said. “It means we’ve struck a nerve, a deep and raw nerve, by proclaiming that no political or military solution will ever bring about lasting change in the Middle East. But a spiritual solution? YES!”

Can this work? I asked myself that question as I read about this event and then signed up to get updates about it. Even as I asked this, another question popped into my head.

“Is what we are doing bringing peace or simply keeping more hate and violence stirred up in the world?” I think that is a question worth considering.

I know to popular media and to a great many people Twynam’s ideas may seem crazy and perhaps idealistic, but they are not new ideas. Those who dare to believe a different approach might be a better approach are in good company.

“Most people said Dr. Martin Luther King was crazy, as well as Gandhi, St. Francis and most especially — Jesus himself,” Twynam said. “We need people who are crazy enough to ‘love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you.’”

Now, I know a lot of people think praying for ISIS, sending love to a group that seems so hate-filled, is not the way to bring peace. Again, I ask, is the world becoming more peaceful because of how we are doing things?

That leads me to another question. Do we believe in the power of prayer? I’ve heard sermon after sermon on the powerful results of focused prayer. So, do we think there is truth in those proclamations from the pulpit or are they words we hear on Sunday and forget come Monday?

I’m sure some people will call me naïve or unrealistic, but I believe there is power in focused prayer and meditation. (If you don’t like the word prayer, substitute, focused energy). It cannot do any harm.

On January 31, Twynam will release the location and time for the peace vigil. He asks us to take about 15 minutes on February 1 to join in prayers for peace. He invites everyone who hears about the vigil to be counted as being, “Crazy for God.”

Despite death treats, sadly not from Muslim extremists but most from average folks who disagree with him, Twynam says, “It’s time to be crazy in the best way possible.” He said hate-filled messages reinforce the reason he wants to conduct this vigil.

I don’t claim to know how focused prayer and meditation work, but I am willing to give a bit of my time to the possibility of a more peaceful world. How about you?

For more information or to register for this vigil, go to


Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.