In my relatively short time in ministry, I have learned that while few people are apt to listen to a “cold call” type spiel on why they should give their life to Christ, very few people turn down an offer for prayer even from a stranger.
My knowledge of this began when I briefly served as a chaplain at an inner city hospital in Dallas. The policy of the hospital was for chaplains to make contact with as many patients as possible. The areas with which I was charged were the Neonatal ICU, Ante-Partum, and Post-Partum; the maternity areas, for better or for worse…too often worse.
As a newly minted pastor, I was still a bit trepidatious about walking into the room of a total stranger whose religious beliefs were unknown to me. This was quite different than the cold calls I used to make as a financial consultant. I remember those first few timid knocks accompanied by “H…hello? Chaplain here. Can I come in?.” I didn’t know what to expect. Would they call security or what? Imagine knocking on some stranger’s bedroom door in their own home…Chaplain here. Coming in.
Whether it was a happy mother with child and family or a bereft and lonely woman suffering the unimaginable, I was always welcomed in. Happy families would always receive a blessing for the new child. Grieving families never turned down a listening ear and a prayer of comfort. In fact, in the whole summer I spent at the hospital, visiting 20 or 30 patients a day, I was never turned down for prayer.
Something about being in a hospital opens a person up to prayer.
As I shoved off into the “regular world” of ministry, I assumed it would be different. I assumed that I would meet a world of resistance… but instead I met a whole world of need.
In my short four years of serving as a minister in Nashville, I have yet to find the person who refuses prayer. Church members, sure, that’s normal, but I have prayed with strangers in parking lots, grocery stores, doctors offices, coffee shops, sporting events, restaurants- you name it. Everyone seems to need and want prayer.
Something about life opens a person up to prayer.
Sooner or later we all run into something we have no control of…some situation, some illness, some bad weather, some job loss, some rejection, some addiction, some pain of which we are not master. In fact, we are all really quite vulnerable beings. Realizing this puts us in the perfect position for prayer.
In prayer we place our uncertainties before a God we at least hope is more powerful than that which seems to be dominating our lives at the moment.
At first we may timidly knock at the door. “G-god. Paul here. Can I come in?“ wondering what stranger may reside on the other side of the door of our soul. But we will always be welcomed in by a God who is ready to hear and respond, to bless and to comfort, to forgive and accept until the day when prayer will be replaced by a smile and an embrace.
In my former profession as a financial consultant, if I had told my sales manager I had never gotten a “no”, he would have said I hadn’t made enough calls or knocked on enough doors.
So I ask you. Can I pray for you?