Faith Stories: The Transformative Power of Prayer
God was up to something in my life when I decided to participate in St. John’s Neighborhood Prayer Ministry a couple of years ago. Praying publicly had always felt uncomfortable to me. When I heard of the effort to go around to the neighbors surrounding St. John’s to pray with them, I was not inclined to participate. However, there was a nudging to do so, which at the time I attributed to helping my friend Kathy who was organizing the effort. Plus, I had heard they were going out in threes and not everyone had to pray. As I reflect, I realize God led me to that experience to learn the transformative power of prayer.
I ended up praying out loud with the neighbors a couple of times. But what touched me more than I ever anticipated was listening to those who were praying and the response of the people being prayed for. There were many examples that moved me but two have remained in my memory. I remember the woman who was alone and troubled and needed our presence that day. After praying with her, she broke down in tears. Our presence gave her the opportunity to let loose and let others share her burdens. Another day we found two men outside their home. They smelled of alcohol and appeared inebriated. But they accepted our offer of prayer and one of them started praying aloud himself. He said the Lord’s prayer so fast, it was almost comical. But at the same time, it was moving to hear him confess to being trapped in alcoholism and asking God for help. This experience praying with our neighbors shaped me in unexpected ways and prepared me for the next task that God knew was coming, even if we didn’t.
When Theresa Sandifer was contemplating her call to “feed my sheep,” Pastor Juan advised her to ask a handful of people to pray for her. Theresa asked me to pray about her calling. My prayers were about asking God to work it all out with Theresa. I was nowhere in that mix. After praying like this for Theresa and her calling, God spoke to me and asked me where my place was in this. He was preparing me to take the part I’ve had in the Shepherd’s Market so far. The next thing I knew I was leading the prayers at the opening of every Food Pantry day. I recently learned that some have said I say beautiful prayers and have been asked to lead prayer in other places. I look back now and see that God was shaping me through those prayers in the Neighborhood Prayer Ministry. I feel like it has all come full circle.