Prayers from a Stranger

Last week was busy . . . and stressful. My list of projects at home and at work had become a bit overwhelming. By Friday morning, I was was completely worn out and ready for the weekend.

I really didn’t have time for visitors in the office, but our sanctuary is always open during the day, especially for those wanting to pray. A pastor acquaintance brought some friends by to see our church, and to pray with them before they left town. Happy for even a brief chance to stand and stretch, I greeted our guests, and walked them to the sanctuary doors. The friends were siblings, a brother and sister from India, committed since childhood to lead others to salvation.

I was delighted to meet Brother Joe and Sister Jessie. I learned that their travels later in the day would take them to Dallas, Texas for a prayer gathering. Our church was their last stop on the way to the airport.

As much as I wanted to sit and hear more about their ministry, I needed to get back to work. They prayed together in the sanctuary for about 30 minutes, and then stopped by my office again to thank me before leaving. The exit doors clicked shut behind them, but a moment later I heard the door open again. Sister Jessie shyly came into my office and smiled at me. “May I pray for you?” she asked.

Heaven Sent

I have no idea what may have prompted Jessie to return and pray for me, but I know who did. This godly woman, who I had met only moments earlier, was prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray for me.

Sister Jessie stood by my side and gently laid her hand on my shoulder, praying words of love, strength and encouragement over me. It was like a soft, soothing rain shower falling on the parched desert floor. Tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes as her prayer concluded.

What do you say to someone who prays into your heart? I could only thank Jessie, and hope that she knew how her prayer had touched me. She asked me if I had ever been to India, and invited me to visit. We exchanged hugs and contact information, and then she was gone.

Connected by Faith

The rest of my day went smoothly. By 5:00 p.m. I had completed every project that had been weighing me down all week.

Kind words and a simple prayer — offered by a stranger — helped to lift the burdens that were weighing me down. Those healing words from Sister Jessie’s heart were a powerful reminder of the connection I share with all my sisters and brothers in Christ worldwide. We may be separated by the physical boundaries of distance, but our hearts are joined by our faith in Jesus.

The Ultimate Gift

When online shopping became widely available, I was convinced I would never use it. I liked shopping in the outlet mall and department stores, perusing the sale flyers and hunting for bargains. I wanted to see the merchandise up close and try the clothing on for size. You can’t do that with a virtual shopping cart.

Then Christmas came along. 

The stores were hot and over-crowded and people were crabby. Everything was picked over and I could never find the right size and color. The checkout lines were endless and the return lines were even longer.  And forget about finding a parking spot within reasonable walking distance to the store! By the time I got home I was exhausted and in a “Bah-humbug” mood. It was time for a change.

For the past two years, I’ve done most of my holiday shopping online. I avoid Black Friday mall madness, opting instead for Cyber Week sales. When I do venture out, it is usually to support one of the small local shops where I can find unique specialty gifts in a more relaxed setting. They even serve refreshments and offer free gift wrapping!

My mom once told me that my dad liked shopping on Christmas Eve when we were kids. That blew my mind. Wouldn’t that have been nerve-wracking, worrying about finding a particular gift so late in the season and at the last possible moment? 

Today, although I am grateful for the convenience of modern technology, I long for the bygone days. Once upon a time, Christmas was simpler, and it saddens me that our children and grandchildren will never know those days except through TV movies, family photo albums and stories shared around the table.

But perhaps we can still create meaningful traditions with our families that capture the true meaning of giving. We can provide Christmas gifts for homeless children in our community, spend time with a homebound senior, or bring a meal to new neighbors. These may seem like small gestures, but by giving to others, we remind our families why we are celebrating this special day.

““You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬

Jesus came into this world to shine light into the darkness. He brought the gift of light and love, giving hope to those who felt lost and alone, He continues to shine that same light today, and His presence is felt through the hands of others who hold, help and heal.

There is no greater gift we can give at Christmas and all throughout the year.