How Can I Pray for You?
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Orange Conference with a team from Saint Joseph. Orange is the curriculum that we use in our children’s and student ministries. The conference featured incredible speakers, valuable breakout sessions, and inspiring worship experiences. As amazing as all the sessions were, what has stuck in my heart and mind was a simple question and challenge.
Ryan Leak, a young author, filmmaker and speaker, spoke about the importance of being present and listening to our neighbors. He said, “Too often, we spend more time talking and preaching when we should be asking questions and listening. We should be intentional about asking questions and listening.”
He then challenged all of us to find ways to ask everyone we encounter a simple question, “How can I pray for you?” He encouraged us to take our everyday, casual conversations and view them as opportunities to care for our neighbors.
Whether it’s the barista at our favorite coffee shop, the waiter bringing our meal, the cashier at our grocery, or the person next to us on the treadmill, we have countless opportunities to demonstrate care and concern for those around us.
It’s amazing how a seemingly simple question can change the nature of a casual conversation.
At our last lunch in Atlanta, one of our team members asked our waiter, “How can we pray for you?” He paused and appeared to be a bit choked up and said, “Strength. Pray for strength.” We don’t know what this man was facing. But, we do know that he needs strength. And, so, we prayed.
On the flight home, I sat next to a young man who was flying home to Baltimore. As we shared a little small talk, the question, “What do you do for a living?” came up. After confessing that I’m a pastor, he said, “Cool. I try to be Catholic! It’s just hard with a young family.” Towards the end of the flight, I asked, “How can I pray for you?” He said, “I worry a lot about my family. I want my kids to be healthy and do well in life. Pray for my kids and pray that I won’t worry so much.” As he prepared to exit the plane he said, “Hey, I’ll keep you and your ministry in my prayers.”
A simple question that for some of us takes a healthy dose of bold courage to work into our everyday conversations. A simple question that can change the nature of our everyday interactions. A simple question that communicates that we care about and are willing to listen to our neighbors?
Will you join me in asking our neighbors, “How can I pray for you?”