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What the homeless taught me about prayer

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This is a very stirring message, a glimpse at the true heart of Christ!

The Word on the Street
What the homeless taught me about prayer
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by Philip Yancey

"If you're writing a book about prayer, you should hang around the homeless for a while," said my wife, a veteran of inner-city ministry. "Street people pray as a necessity, not a luxury."

Her advice made sense, especially after I interviewed Mike Yankoski, a Westmont College student who, along with a friend, left school for five months to live on the street. (His book, Under the Overpass, tells the story.) Mike told me that homeless people, having hit bottom, don't waste time building up an image or trying to conform. And they pray without pretense, a refreshing contrast to what he found in some churches.

I asked for an example. "My friend and I were playing guitars and singing 'As the Deer Panteth for the Water' when David, a homeless man we knew, started weeping. 'That's what I want, man,' he said. 'I want that water. I'm an alcoholic, but I want to be healed.' As I spent more time with David, I realized that a connection with God is his only hope for healing. He simply doesn't have the inner strength. He relies on prayer as a lifeline."

Mike estimates that a quarter of the homeless people he knows have an active Christian faith. When I visited a coffee house for the homeless in Denver, I found no shortage of street people willing to talk about prayer. Bill, a wry, articulate man who attended a college prep school, told me of several answers to prayer while hitchhiking. Once, he said, "God sent a biker with the very tools I needed to repair the vehicle whose owner had offered me a ride. Think of the odds against that happening in Salina, Kansas!" As he talked, he packed and unpacked a hand-rolled cigarette.

Scott, a young man who could sell saltwater to a sailor, shook my hand firmly, looked me in the eye, and started witnessing to me. He had just moved off the streets into a halfway house and was trying to kick a cocaine habit. "I checked myself in after I got a $9,000 inheritance and blew it all on drugs in a couple weeks. Now I go to 12-step groups every day and attend church as well as two different Bible studies." Scott prays all day long. "It's the only thing that keeps me straight."

As I listened to the homeless relate their prayers, I was struck by the prayers' down-to-earth quality—indeed, their resemblance to the Lord's Prayer. "Give us this day our daily bread": They all had stories about running out of food, praying, and then finding a burrito or uneaten pizza. "Deliver us from evil": Living on mean streets, these believers pray that daily. "Forgive us our trespasses": Deep down in each lay buried secrets of shame and regret.

From my time with the homeless, I learned a new meaning to prayer: It can be a safe place to bare secrets. Those of us fortunate enough to have a spouse or a trustworthy friend can share our secrets. If not, at least we have God, who knows our secrets before we spill them. (The fact that we're still alive and loved shows that God has more tolerance for whatever those secrets represent than we may give God credit for.)

John said, "the best ministry I can offer is a long-term relationship. I hope that over the years and decades street people learn to trust me as someone who can handle their secrets. I hope that trust will gradually spill over to God. I tell people who encounter the homeless that eye contact and a listening ear may be more important than food or money or Bible verses. They need to connect in some small way with another human being, someone who sees them as a person of worth."

© 2006 Christianity Today

Luk 5:31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

2Co 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
 
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My daughter and I stayed in a shelter for women and children for 5 months in the spring and summer of 1999. I saw several mothers in there come to Christ. People who are at a low spot are ready to look and listen for the answers. The answer is always the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

I don't live in a shelter anymore, but I do participate in a womens' jail
ministry. Many of these inmates are at a low point and God is pursuing them with His precious Holy Spirit. God promises to be close to and heal the broken-hearted (Psalms 147). If they seek Him, they will surely find them.
 
Member
"I tell people who encounter the homeless that eye contact and a listening ear may be more important than food or money or Bible verses. They need to connect in some small way with another human being, someone who sees them as a person of worth."

This message here is strong and correct. Most people to this day think, "oh I give." They give money, money flows, money is everywhere! But a person to listen and talk to another person is treasure. The best thing you can give another person is your time. From human to human. Money is worthless, in the end it means nothing; what these people need is Christ, through Him and with faith God will provide. Our bodies do not crave money, objects, needs, and or wants, we think through these things we create happiness. Wrong. All we are doing is looking for Christ.

If you'll allow me to throw something else into the air, everyone has prayer requests. We all have wants and needs. When two or more are gathered, God answers. Its good to get away from the wants and needs and pray about nothing. Lock yourself away and just talk to Jesus. Even if it is you calling His name, CALL IT! He will answer back!
Jesus!! Kevin!!
Jesus? Kevin?
JESUS! KEVIN!
Its such a beautiful thing. Just talk to Him, without any needs or wants. Try it... He is waiting for you.

:smile: God bless you all!

My love,
Kevin
 
Member
If you'll allow me to throw something else into the air, everyone has prayer requests. We all have wants and needs. When two or more are gathered, God answers. Its good to get away from the wants and needs and pray about nothing. Lock yourself away and just talk to Jesus. Even if it is you calling His name, CALL IT! He will answer back!
Jesus!! Kevin!!
Jesus? Kevin?
JESUS! KEVIN!
Its such a beautiful thing. Just talk to Him, without any needs or wants. Try it... He is waiting for you.

Amen Kevin. Yes we only have to call. As you say........such a beautiful thing. Just call out His name........Jesus.............Jesus......its.........

Just the mention of His Name

God Bless All
 
Member
I live near a large city and I visit that city's downtown area probably two or three times per month. I used to shun the homeless people who panhandled on the streets there. I would go out of my way to avoid them. But the Lord started to work on my heart and Matthew 25:45 began to be burned into my heart: "Whatever you DID NOT DO for the least of these my brothers, you DID NOT DO for Me."
I don't go out of my way to avoid them now and I give at least one of them some money if I have money to give. One of them began to recognize me on the street each time I came by and we struck up a friendship. The last time I was downtown, I didn't see him. He wasn't at his usual "station" and I found myself missing him and praying that he is o.k.

God has given me a heart for people........All People, just as He has a heart for All People.
SLE
 
Member
thank you sharing this it has really touched me. Amazing our great King is with all who call him.
 

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