One of the most consistent attendees at our church’s beginning of the month prayer gathering is a homeless man. He is faithfully there, respectfully sitting in the back, praying. He has never gotten up to pray when volunteers are asked for, and has never gotten up to share when opportunity is given for praise reports or testimonies….but he is there.
Now you (or I) may say he is only there to pan-handle for a few bucks, or give himself a break from the harsh toll the weather can have on a person when they don’t have a choice of whether or not to stay out in it. And that may be accurate. However, he could stay outside to do that. Yet, he chooses to come inside. He could stay and get warm, use the restroom, and head on his way. Instead, he comes in, waiting for someone to talk with him….or to talk to God.
He listens to the prayers of others. I would assume offers some of his own. I wonder if he is confused by so many people coming to pray, but then not really putting their prayers into action. This reminds me of the parable in Luke chapter 18 where the Pharisee and Tax collector both went to pray. The pharisee’s prayer tended to be pious and self-righteous, while the tax collector wailed a desperate cry of unworthiness and a request for mercy. There may not be any parallels in that parable to my illustration of the homeless man at our church, but somehow I think there might be.
Prayer is the building block of our faith. Communication with God is how He makes will known to us, and humbling ourselves before him in prayer, allows him to work that same will through us. So if we only ever allow the homeless man in to pray at the normal prayer gathering, and don’t ACT upon those prayers by helping him out, is our faith really genuine? I think of the verses in the 2nd chapter of James. I really don’t want to have dead faith.
Ultimately, this seems to challenge my thoughts on discipleship. It is not a class or something I sign up to be a part of for 12 weeks. it is a lifestyle. It is praying in the spirit, for the Holy Spirit to guide my footsteps, to surrender to His promptings, and share the gift of Himself with those He brings into my path. I don’t have the same needs as the homeless man who shows up for prayer time each month. But what would happen if I showed up for prayer with the same sense of desperation that I sense he is showing up with?
Last time I checked, Jesus was homeless…….