Ever been prayed for by a platypus? I have been. Well, not a real platypus, but a nine-year-old boy wearing a t-shirt with the face of a platypus from a well-known cartoon show. Not only did his prayer bless me, but his willingness taught me a valuable lesson.
Our new church home periodically hosts a special time of extended worship, prayer, and refilling called Fresh Wind. Betty and I attended our first one a few nights ago. I won’t go into a play by play of everything that unfolded that evening, buts here’s a summary. The worship band led a few songs, the leader asked that if anyone needed prayer to simply raise their hands and folks around them would pray while worship continued. Those waves of worship and prayer went on for about two hours. After the band had wrapped up many folks stayed around to talk and get to know each other.
I was hanging out in the back of the church. Not too far away I heard a mom ask a young boy who’d he like to pray for. He soon pointed in my direction. “Would you like me to pray for you?” He asked. “Sure,” I replied as I knelt down so that I could be at his level. “What do you need prayer for?” He asked. I explained that I had been fighting a cold and that I had a frog in my throat. Without hesitation or prompting, he prayed that Jesus would bring healing and take the frog out of my throat. Simple, direct, and heartfelt – can’t get much better than that.
Why do we as adults make things so hard? Why do we as grownups fear the way someone will react if we enter into their space? Why do we assume that prayer is for the professional or the trained? Why do we feel that God can’t use us? We are told in the Book of Acts about the fledgling church, “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common… Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,” (Acts 2:44–46, NASB95) In this and other passages there is a deep sense of one-another-ness. So often we go to church only to receive. But what if Jesus has something greater in mind? What if we all started praying with one another?
We don’t need to make this hard. We don’t need to get super spiritual. We don’t need to get long-winded or preachy in our prayers. We don’t even need to wait until we know or hear about a need. So, next Sunday as you walk in the doors how about saying this simple prayer – “Lord, put someone on my heart.” We aren’t looking for flashing neon arrows and a sign that says “THIS ONE”, a simple tug of the heart will do. When it is appropriate, walk up to that person and like the little boy in the platypus shirt simply ask, “would you like me to pray for you?” Phrasing it that way gives the person a way out. While most folks are willing, if not desiring, to be prayed for, some may be uncomfortable. Ask them if there is anything in particular. If not, simply pray that God would grant them His grace, wisdom, and love for this day and for tomorrow. Keep it simple, keep it real, keep it heartfelt and sincere. If a young man in a platypus t-shirt can do it, you and I can do it as well.