Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Praying for strangers

I like to people watch. Every so often I like to sit on a bench, on a busy campus, in the mall, at a park and just observe other people. Friends out shopping, a student scurrying to a class, parents frolicking with their children on a playground. I like to see people chatting, laughing, and just plain living. I like to imagine what their lives are like.

It's probably why I like taking evening drives at this time of year. With Christmas parties, family gatherings and christmas trees lighted in the windows, many people don't draw their curtains at night and you can get a tiny glimpse into their lives.

Once in a while, there will be someone that crosses my path that makes something stir up in my heart. There are some people, who with a glance, can awaken an aching in my spirit. I can't say it's the appearance of the person that makes me feel this way, although there are those who obviously struggle to get around each day due to physical disabilities that stir up concern in me, even pity, I admit.

But there are those people, who walk by and you can just feel the sadness, loneliness, longing, anger or bitterness in their lives. It's hard to describe. Often we can discern the condition of a person's soul after a short conversation and sometimes after only a short meeting of the eyes. It's as if they're crying out silently, pleading for help or for an answer.

I didn't realize I prayed for these strangers until one day I was so moved by one of these people that I spoke out loud. A simple "Jesus help him overcome. God bless his life." sprang from my lips, and my husband overheard me and asked, "Who are you praying for?"

"I don't know", I replied. "A stranger."

I realized that I do this often. Sometimes it's just a few words, other times it's a bit more. Out of a true concern for a stranger and a desire to help, it's the least I feel I can do for a person in need that I see in passing. Some nights thoughts of these people linger and I'll become restless, the hollow look in thier eyes haunt me, and I've cried out to God on their behalf.

Someone said that you impact or influence thousands of people in your lifetime? There are so many people around us that need Jesus. If you sit down and think about it, truly for just a minute, it's overwhelming really. I hope that merely locking eyes for a second more than what is comfortable between strangers, accompanied by a geniune smile, will make those strangers feel that someone noticed, someone cared. I know I feel better when I know there's someone out there praying for me.

I hope my small prayers make a difference in someone's life, if but just one.

Colossians 1:9-14: ..we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

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