Over the past couple of years, in response to the call of God to plant a local House of Prayer, I have set my heart and will to pray for Vanier, the historic Ottawa neighbourhood where Marion and I have made our home for the past six years.
Staying motivated in prayer can be a challenge at times. The enemy doesn’t want us to pray, so he is adept at finding ways of convincing us that we are wasting our time. Thankfully, the Lord is more than ready to encourage us when we get weak and weary. It is always energizing to draw near to Him in worship and seek Him in his word. Sometimes, though, we need signs of the coming harvest to keep our hope bright.
I received one of the Lord’s signs last Saturday morning while I was out prayer walking in Richelieu Park. Marion and I had gathered with a small but vibrant group of praying friends for the fourth and final outing in Vanier House of Prayer‘s Summer 2013 series of prayer walks. I had sent everyone out to walk and pray on their own for a few minutes, after which we were going to reconvene and pray together.
I was walking along a pathway through the woods. I met a young boy who enthusiastically told me what a nice day it was, and how much he liked walking in the woods. I loved his innocent enthusiasm and spoke God’s blessing over him. He went on his way and I continued walking and praying.
Soon the path opened up onto a wide grassy area, and I came upon a middle-aged man and a young woman (I had the impression that they might be a father and daughter) lying on a blanket talking. I apologized for disturbing them and the man said “You didn’t disturb us. Actually, I wanted to ask you a question”. He then seemed a bit embarrassed at having been this open, and instead of asking his question, he said he wanted to borrow my cell phone. When he had made his call, I flashed a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit. I didn’t have long, because I was supposed to be meeting the other prayer walkers shortly, but I was sure he had wanted something more than just the use of my phone.
Lord, what do I do now?
Why don’t you ask how you can pray for them?
Brilliant idea, Lord! Thanks!
So that’s what I did. I told them I needed to be on my way because I was meeting some people who were here in the park to pray for Vanier, and I asked how we could pray for them.
The man looked at me and said, “Actually, I need forgiveness”.
This blew me away. How many people do you meet who are so open about their need for forgiveness? It was quite amazing.
I knew this was an important moment. I talked to them about Jesus. I said that forgiveness was easy – that Jesus had come to earth to make a way for us to be forgiven. The young woman then spoke up and said “Yes, but not everyone believes in Jesus”. I allowed that this was true, but affirmed that Jesus is alive and would hear their prayers. They both nodded as if this was what they had needed to hear. I then spoke a quick prayer over them and went to rejoin my friends.
What a revelation! There are people right here – right in my neighbourhood – who are hungry for the good news that God loves them and has sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for their sins.
I left the park that day feeling greatly encouraged. God had sent this man and his daughter the encouragement they needed, but he had also sent me the encouragement I needed. I knew again that our ministry of intercession was worth the effort.