Bloomington, IN. Prayer is of the utmost importance in the Christian life. For the street evangelist, outings should begin and end with prayer, and, since St. Paul exhorts us to “pray always,” they should even be filled with it. But prayer should also be part of the “toolbox” of the street evangelist. On a recent trip to the campus of Indiana University, Mark of the IU team made use of this important “tool.”
He had forgotten to keep the question, “Is there anything you would like prayer about?” ready at hand. However, a student whom Mark had offered a rosary approached him with a sad look on his face, and stood there as if he expected more than just the rosary from him. Mark started asking him the regular questions he was asking, whether he knew that the rosary was a prayer, whether he was a Catholic, whether he was practicing, etc., and though he answered each question, he seemed interested in none of them, but instead expecting something more. Mark couldn’t put his finger on what exactly was going on in those moments, so he simply encouraged the student in the practice of his faith and let him go on his way.
Reflecting on that encounter, it occurred to Mark that the student was probably going through a difficult time and needed compassion and prayer. So he decided that the next person with a sad or pained look, he would offer prayer.
Shortly after he made that decision, he encountered another student with that look in his face. After asking him the initial questions, finding out where he is at faith-wise (he was Methodist), Mark asked the student if he wanted prayer for anything. He said, yes, his girlfriend was recently diagnosed with an illness and that it was weighing on him greatly. “May I put my hand on your shoulder while I pray?” Mark asked.
In this picture, we see Mark praying aloud for the student and his girlfriend.
Before he went on his way, the student thanked Mark and his SPSE companions for being there sharing Christ peacefully, and told him that there was another Christian group in another part of campus shouting and holding signs condemning students with insults and harsh words about judgment and hellfire. (Recall, in the gospels Christ spoke harshly only with select groups of religious hypocrites, and only then in warning.)
Praised be Jesus Christ! We all need prayer. Praying with and for others an important part of living Christian discipleship, and an important part of street evangelization. Do you have a special gift of praying with others? Would you join us and share that gift with those in need?