A pastor friend of mine is a regular at his neighborhood YMCA.  He was a powerlifter as a young man and still enjoys pumping iron.  You cannot miss Mark coming.  He looks part biker, part Rabbi, part Santa.  He has one of those awesome beards that I will never successfully grow.  He can preacher curl more than any preacher I know.

Many people know him at his Y.  He will talk to anyone and something about him makes people want to approach him.  He is a curious fellow.  Did I mention he is also an amateur illusionist, has a PhD. in Old Testament, and lived in a Marxist kibbutz in Israel for a few years?

One of his regular conversation partners is a good old Baptist.  They talk Bible and theology in between sets. The guy can talk nonstop.  One day he came up to Mark with a tired look on his face and said, “I’ve had the worst two weeks of my life.  My wife died and my adult mentally challenged son doesn’t understand it…I guess I don’t either.”

Mark listened to him, consoled him and shared some comforting scripture which this man could recite from memory.  The man walked off and continued his workout. 

A few minutes later he came back and talked some more about it.  He was really struggling.  He looked over at his son about 10 paces away.  His son was happily going about his day not seeming at all affected by his father’s struggle.  

Mark listened more to the man’s grief, and talked some more with him of the resurrection and the promise of peace.  The man walked away and did another set.  He came back and talked some more.

Mark said at this point the Spirit began to nudge him, “He needs prayer.”  No more talk.  He put down his weights, placed his hand on the man’s shoulder, and began to pray.  He prayed for the man and his big little child.  For peace and understanding.  For hope and healing.  For comfort. 

The man stood there for a moment with tears in his eyes. No more talk.  He nodded with gratitude, took his son, and went home.