I never know when my prayers will be needed or how they will be used to help others. Sometimes I am moved to pray and I do not even know why. Has this ever happened to you? Just this morning a string of events led me to an amazing discovery which I can only attribute to the Lord. The string has become a metaphor and a reminder of how interconnected humans are with one another. Hindsight reveals how much we need to look for ways to lift up people in prayer; yes, all people, even those we don't know. Allow me to explain. Normally I do not watch the news at night – it is chock full of the realities of modern life: car pile-ups, drug busts, murders and politics. However, last week I had been completely offline spending time with my mother in her last days. It was a wonderful experience to see her Christian faith stay strong to the end. I was exhausted and joyfully sorrowful after her death and day of glory. I was full of the moments spent with her and processing them slowly.
It was in this state of mind that I returned to my home to unwind before having supper. Absentmindedly I had channel surfed to our local news for a brief moment. The opening story was riveting. A dispatch of policemen were responding to a 911 call. The SWAT team went to an address in a nearby town, forced a woman and girl out of home to the lawn, commanded them to drop to their knees and began to interrogate them at gunpoint.
The problem was the police had done this work at the wrong address. The woman and girl were completely taken by surprise and shaken to the core by the events. The last news image of this horrifying incident was of the innocent girl looking straight into the camera. Her doe eyes were shining brightly with tears. She stated something about having her personal security in the neighborhood stripped away. She said she was now afraid. She looked so pathetic! I immediately started to pray for her, asking God to send her peace in the storm around her.
Her eyes and face haunted me a little too, I must confess. I continued to pray for her for the next couple of days. I hoped that the trauma wouldn’t settle in. I asked the Lord to guard her and give her parents wisdom to use the incident to teach her.
Three days after the news incident, a colleague of mine appeared in my office to offer condolences at the death of my mother. Toward the end of our conversation I asked how his family was faring. He said fine. Then he stopped and hesitated.
Slowly he shared what was on his mind. He told me about one of his daughters for whom my husband and I had been praying, and I assured him of God’s providence and care for her. The conversation then turned to this incident in a residential area where the police had mistakenly held guns to the head of a woman and girl. I said that I had seen this on the news and was immediately praying for them both, especially the girl.
He then began to stare at me. The silence filled the room as I was struggling to understand what was on his mind. What he related next was unbelievable. “Thank you so much! She really needs to know this. That girl is my daughter, the one we just mentioned. We are asking for her to be able to overcome the trauma. We pray for God to make something good happen from this incident. I confess I wanted to lash out at the police at first, but it wasn’t their fault. ”
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
I don’t know how the Lord will answer my prayer for this little girl. I just know that God is bigger than the situation. In God’s plan, I felt privileged to help carry my colleague’s burden without knowing it. He heartily thanked me again and again for the prayers.
So I ask the reader, who really benefitted from my prayer for this unknown person on the nightly news: the girl, my colleague, or me? When I heard my colleague’s description of his family’s reaction to the incident, it was amazing. His tribe had only concern for others. The family was dealing with the whole scenario with wisdom and grace. They were not blaming the police. Instead they were wondering how God would bless the whole bad scene set off by a 911 caller who gave a wrong address to the dispatcher. They also were praying for the police, the caller and their own daughter. What a great example for us to remember.
You see, it really is a God thing, because we all benefited. This is the way our God works. How thankful I am the Holy Spirit prompted me to pray. How I praise him for including me in his holy work.
We know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love him, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28