“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 (NKJV)
The smell of fear surrounds me while prayer walking through Cass Corridor in Detroit. My arms prickle as a tan van creeps dangerously close. Across Third Avenue a middle aged woman jumps to her feet, shouts unintelligible words, and bares a toothy grin. I stumble on the sidewalk as my sneaker crunches a discarded potato chip bag. My pace slows as I carefully step around the debris.
In the shade of an Elm Tree a large group of men,women, and children crowds together. Shaking her head a mom warily watches strangers approach. Her four year old daughter stares. A deep voice startles me as a thin man waves us along, pointing further down the street.
A short distance away, I greet an older man in a motorized wheelchair. His plastic identification bracelets, labored breathing, and swollen feet reveal recent hospital visits. My heart sinks as I imagine a sick family member of my own as homeless.
I awkwardly replace my frown with an encouraging smile and frantically search for a kind word. He peppers me with questions about my identity and Biblical knowledge. “I just want to be taken to Heaven like Enoch or restored like Job,” he says, his voice unsteady with pain. I sit on the curb littered with garbage, place my hand on his arm, and give him my undivided attention.
While the sun blazes upon us, I wonder why he remains to talk. Most people stay a short while before rushing on with their day. Although a twenty year old man persistently calls his name, he purposefully ignores him. Sweat beads on his brow while I silently pray for his health.
When another passerby mentions he needs prayer, the sick man’s eyes light up like a candle. I hold his crippled hand as he cries out to The Lord. He claims the sweet promise that when two or three gather in The LORDS’s Name, He is there in our midst. (Matthew 18:20) His agitated tone calms.
Afterwards his motorized wheelchair races across the hot pavement in a bee line to the protection of the shade. His wheelchair rolls to a stop and the little girl runs to his lap. Suddenly I realize he voluntarily stayed in the sun all afternoon waiting for an opportunity to pray with believers. While the crowd accepts him, they do not accept me.
I smile as I recognize God’s gift for both of us. He sought comfort from His Lord Jesus Christ. On this day, I was the friend sent to pray with him. However in this uncertain neighborhood, he comforted me by extending friendship.
It’s not comfortable to go close to people we don’t understand. It’s not easy to set aside our own agenda and discover their need. However it is easy to hold a hand and comfort a person with prayer. Our LORD comforts His loved ones with His unfailing love, but He sends us to hold their hand.
Dear Lord, Thank you for showing us strangers who need prayer. May we have courage to reach out to a hurting heart through prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.