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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Encountering Walter

I've been praying all the time lately, (in fact, I am praying as I write this). It comes lately in five forms
1. My variation of the Jesus Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Show me favor and establish the Kingdom work of my hands that you might be glorified.

2. Praying in tongues under my breath. I received the gift many years ago. I was not looking for it. God gave it to me at the beginning of our turn toward a life of ministry. It came in my mid-30's just after going through intense inner healing counseling for a year, and learning the spiritual discipline of listening prayer.
3. Praying the Shema (with added Great Commandment) and the Lord's Prayer.
4. General Intercession.
5. Confession. 

Praying like this is having an tangible effect on me and what I am doing. For instance:

On Monday, I needed to make a bank deposit. I went to our offices on Armory Street to drop off a bag of garbage from our apartment on Main Street, just around the corner from the office. From there, I decided to walk through Thorne's Market to get to the bank.

Standing just outside the back door on the lower level of Thorne's was Walter, a tall, handsome black man who can be found most days on Main Street in Northampton playing his old guitar and singing for money even in the bitter cold. Walter knows me by name and vice versa. We have talked many times as I have been out and about on errands or heading out to meet people.

He has the gift of gab. Walter loves to talk about being a musician, about learning songs, practicing and wanting to get better. He talks a lot about that. He did on Monday too. He also showed me a milk carton he had cut in half with words he had written about being a master musician and in need of prayer - interesting combination.  He seemed pleased by what he'd written. He also mentioned he had written the words to hundreds of songs, and just needed someone to help him put the music to them.

In reality, he isn't very good, but not for lack of desire.

So we struck up a brief conversation. As it took its usual turns regarding music, Walter mentioned he has stage fright. He said he could really get a song down and be singing with abandon until someone would stop and listen. He would then get very distracted and nervous. He didn't like it at all. He looked truly bewildered by it.

God prompted me to tell him to ask God to help him when that happened. I did and he began to talk about the Lord and how he prayed to him all the time. In the process, he also started to talk vaguely about getting involved at an early age in stuff he was not proud of and made things hard. He hinted at serious drug use and needing to be away from "that crowd." He let on a bit that it might still be a problem.

I had been told previously he is an addict and not a good man.

I interjected he needed to work on that stuff in the company of people who had the same struggle and were striving to follow Jesus. I said he needed to let go and surrender his heart to Jesus completely. I added the Scripture from the Gospel of John that "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." He made me repeat it 3-4 times. I told him he could not do it alone. I told Him Jesus is the point of everything and I am praying for him.

The point of the story is I think God gave me more boldness in this encounter with Walter because I have been praying constantly. I had never talked to him that way before.  Praying continually seems to change the spiritual atmosphere creating openness and more freedom in me to be available to his work, I think.  I am experiencing similar openness every day. I like it and want more.

It's what I have been wanting since moving up here.


If you feel the tug of God to live more in the missionary mindset ask him to help you pray all the time. From our side of the table I think the Kingdom is established through fervent prayer and the freedom created in us because of it. It seems to help us be more "present" to opportunities all around us.
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