Carol stopped by the office today asking for rent money. Her son has a rare disease that has weakened his immune system and she has not been able to work enough to pay for this month. Though we were able to give her part of the rent and offer her some food from the food pantry, she still needed more. After handing her the check an awkward silence came over us. It was clearly time for her to leave. She had the money, what more could be done? Then God began to tug at me, “Pray for her.” Hesitating for a moment, I invited her to sit down and pray with us.
Though I am positive that God told me to pray for Carol and her son Matthew, I’m not sure about what he did next. From my perspective it seemed that God had left the building. I had no sense of how to pray for Carol or her son. In seeking his direction, I only stumbled over my words and prayed a very clumsy prayer with a lot long, awkward pauses. If my friends heard it, they would never again ask me to say the blessing before a meal. It was that bad. Just a lousy prayer filled with Christian cliches.
As the prayer mercifully came to an end, Eugene, the pastor, had now joined us and the three of us struck up a conversation. Carol began to ask questions about the church and Eugene filled her in, avoiding any kind of pressure for her to attend. We shared that there will be a newcomers lunch this Sunday and that a women’s Bible study meets every Friday down the road from her.
The questions kept coming and the invitations were extended. She was very interested in meeting people and making friends. It turned out that she is fairly new to the area. In addition, her husband had passed away several years ago. It became clear to us that she was genuinely in need and that we can really help her.
The conversation eventually ended and we promised to keep in touch with her, passing her number to a few ladies in her area. Carol left and we went back to our work.
In pondering our time with Carol, it hit me that God had been there in some very real and powerful ways. The prayer was his bait, laid to make us sit down. The prayer was a mere set-up for the conversation that God wanted to happen. While I would not say that my prayer for Carol and her son was worthless, it certainly was not the only thing God had in mind. God essentially brought life through some relationships. Eugene and I were thrilled to see how God connected us with this person who needs God and his church so badly.
By the way, we’re still praying for Carol.