Can I Pray For You?

Can I Pray For You? June 10, 2013

I left the office building to get a little air.

But the ring of white police vehicles and the clogged street outside the building told me there was something wrong.

I strode up the sidewalk, but was shooed to the other side to uniformed officer with a grim look on his face.

From across the street, I saw it. A shoe in the middle of the sidewalk.

Police Crime SceneOff to the side was a backpack. And a broken bottle.  I took it all in, uncertain of what it all meant until I saw the sheet, white glistening in the sun. Five patrolmen looked down at it, talking in low voices, sometimes into the microphone clipped to their shoulder board. They were taking notes, making chit-chat until someone else would come to lift the sheet.

I was little angry, because the placement of the sheet left a single hand was exposed to the sun and to the squeamish. I looked away, not wanting to be a voyeur, even though I felt a guilty temptation to look again. I did.

A few people were pointing up, to the third story of the parking garage. Up there was another patrolman, his flashlight panning the concrete floor.

On the other side of the street, sitting on a bench, was a woman, sobbing, clinching a handkerchief, eyes averting the scene?

I approached her. I didn’t know what to do. She was alone. I asked her if she was okay. She told me her father was missing. He had been in a fight with her mother. And he was drinking. Who was under the sheet?

All her fears were alive.

I don’t know what to say. We were from world’s apart — different economic status, different race, different age. I didn’t know her her father or his life. Did he live on the streets, or did he fade in and out of her life. Was a good man who lost his way? I didn’t know anything, but I knew what I had to do.

I reached out and took her hand and looked her square. “We need to pray. Will you pray with me?’  She nodded and bowed – an action that’s ingrained in every human if only we’ll listen to it.

I uttered some words, all along asking for the Spirit to give me utterance. And wisdom. And compassion. I felt a hand on my shoulder. And then three of four others reached out to touch her.

Prayer is power.

Prayer is comfort.

Prayer is community.

Prayer is hope.

The Power of Prayer
Photo by Leland Francisco, sourced via Flikr, CCI

For three decades I’ve believed in the power of prayer in the middle of the impossible. I’ve invited strangers, coworkers, family members, and friends into the circle and never had anyone tell me no. When your heart is crushed and your world is swirling, where else can you go?

I’ve prayed with the prodigals in my life, that they would find their way home. I’ve prayed for my enemies, that they would find love again.

I don’t know if prayer changes them, but it certainly changes me.

So the next time you don’t know what to say. Or what to do. Or how to act. Just ask,  “Can we pray?”

Have you ever prayed with a stranger? 


And can I pray for you? Send me an e-mail here.



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