A few years ago, late on a Friday night, some Christian friends and I engaged people in personal discussions about the gospel of Jesus Christ on the streets of Broad Ripple in Indianapolis. I had a friendly chat with a man in his mid-twenties. He was somewhat inebriated, though he was gladly able to state his reasons for rejecting Jesus and the gospel.
Seeing that an argument was probably not going to be productive, I simply asked a personal question: “Is there anyone praying for you?”
“Oh yeah,” he replied, “my mom is always praying for me!”
With that, he took his phone and said, “In fact, she’d love to know that I’m talking to you,” as he began to call her.
Realizing that it was about midnight, I suggested that he should refrain, but he insisted.
Amid the bustle of the busy sidewalk, I listened to one side of the ensuing exchange.
“Hi Mom, this is John...no, no, I’m fine, Mom...I’m just standing here in Broad Ripple...no, no, nothing’s wrong...there’s a guy who is talking to me about Jesus, and I thought you’d like to know.”
To my shock, he blurted out, “Here, why don’t you talk to him,” and thrust the phone into my hand.
Sheepishly, I introduced myself to his mother and apologized for obviously waking her from her sleep; I assured her that her son was safe. She was glad that my friends and I were talking about Jesus with others, even if she was still a bit confused. So, I told her that her son had called only because I had asked her son if he had anyone praying for him, and he said his mom always prays for him...and that he thought she’d like to meet me.
Choking up, she affirmed her daily prayers...and now her deep gratitude. I reminded her of the steadfast love and faithfulness of God who hears the prayers of mothers for their sons and who is still at work. I assured her that I was praying for her son before bidding her good night.
I don’t know what has happened to that son and his mother; the Lord does. I still pray for them.
What’s the point of the story? Maybe not much, other than that the Lord works in strange ways.
But, the Lord reminded me afresh that night of several realities:
- It is useful to ask non-Christians in our culture if they know of those who are praying for them; there probably are people praying for them. And it is good for them to be reminded of it.
- Mothers today still experience what Monica, Augustine’s (354-430 A.D.) mother, must have felt in the years before the Lord answered her pleas for the one she called “the son of so many tears.”
- Christian parents of unbelieving children love to know that others are praying for their children (though it is best not to tell them so at midnight, unless the Lord so directs).
- The Lord still works through prayer in the lives of unbelievers.
Note: The man’s name is generic and the quotations are from memory and are inexact. Only the two others referenced in the story could clarify this memory. If either of you happen to read this article and have corrections to offer or can tell “the rest of the story," I’d love to hear from you.