Recently I was challenged to start asking people, “Is there anything going on in your life that I can pray for?” It’s a real simple question, but it definitely goes past normal stranger etiquette. But my habits are predictable. My wife and I have “our” Starbucks, “our” Walmart, “our” go-to restaurants, etc. And inherently, we run into the same baristas, servers, and workers everywhere we go. On some level I felt like they were a part of our family, but I never paused long enough to even ask their name because “they’re at work” and “I’m busy.” I have my excuses, but yesterday they weren’t good enough. I went to the car wash (the most peaceful place on earth for me) in the morning and asked a woman named Amy if there was anything I could pray for… she paused and then said… “Yes, me and my ex boyfriend are having some problems. And my job is driving me crazy.” I’ve seen Amy 100 times before, but never knew her name or even a glimpse of her story. But now I do. And then we went to Starbucks and I asked a guy named Parker the same question… and he paused and said… “Yeah, could you pray for my little brother. He’s down about not getting playing time on his football team. Would you pray for him?” You got it, Parker. And then another barista named Catelin gave us our drink and I asked her, “Is there anything I can pray for you today, Catelin?” And she paused… and said… “Yeah, for happiness.”
Yesterday I felt like I was in God’s drive thru just giving Him my order for the day: Yes, can I have better circumstances for Amy at her job and that you’d be the glue that brings her and her boo back together? Or maybe, help them both realize your destiny for their life and that could mean them going separate ways. Have your way? Oh, and can you talk to the coach of Parker’s little brother’s football team and give him a few plays. Let him tackle at least 5 people, Oh God. Would you help him know that he’s not forgotten… by you? Oh and can I have a little real happiness for our new friend Catelin? She was honest enough to admit it to a stranger. And maybe that’s easier than telling the people who think you’re happy.
Every time I ask someone this question, I truly get so nervous because you have no idea what they’re going to say. “How are you” only has a few responses that you could get back: Good, bad, ok, great, decent, stellar, etc. And on some level all of those begin to sound the same because it’s common courtesy to ask, but it’s not common courtesy to care.
Amy, Parker, & Catelin are a part of our neighborhood. And I don’t feel compelled to invite them to my church. But I do feel compelled to let them know that they’re not alone and there is a God who’s crazy about them. And that may mean getting past what is just common courtesy. Happy Sunday.