They had been on my mind for over a week. The imprisoned, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Our weekly gathering gravitated towards meeting a need. Help the addicted. Reach out to the recently incarcerated. Intercede for the youth being exposed to the unimaginable.
The text message came the very next day. Conversations pointing to similar needs right here in our community. A neighborhood demonstrating anger and animosity. Youth expressing thoughts creating cause for concern. Correctional facilities bursting at the seams due to overabundance of delinquents.
God, what does this mean?
Another conversation with a sister on the same page. Another the following week with a sister whose heart had been stirring. Another during our gathering just one week later, sharing their might be a program coming to our area with a heart for reaching the very same souls seemingly on our hearts and minds.
Why do we need a program from across the country, when we have the Person of Holy Spirit living within each of us? Right here, right now.
I woke up feeling horrible on Saturday. I was growing familiar with this tactic. Go after my health – my physical ability to go, reach out, follow through, complete what He had started. Hot and cold, up and down, dizzy and solid. I kept going back and forth all day and finally crashed.
I woke up this morning, completely rested. Had it really been close to over ten months since I had slept so solid? Had I not known a solid night’s rest in so long? It felt like forever since I had slept so well.
The message came. There was a thirsty woman in a community. There was a woman hungry for MORE. More than the menu religion offered. More than the constraints imposed by the culture. This woman was THIRSTY for more and encountered the only One able to provide her with a drink that would satisfy for an eternity.
I saw them in my mind again. The neighborhood just miles outside of town, I had never been to. The gals recently released or still sleeping on the cots in their 6x6 spaces. I knew that space, too. The kiddos subjected to so many things, the best hope they could conclude for themselves was to harm themselves, or worse…those feelings are relentless and often feel unshakable without Jesus.
And then I read the words, “Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, k“Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, l“Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, m“My food is nto do the will of him who sent me and oto accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that pthe fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that qsower and rreaper smay rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, t‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap uthat for which you did not labor. Others have labored, vand you have entered into their labor.”
I was getting ready to leave to grab groceries for my family for the week. It seemed as though the Lord had a couple extra errands for me to run.
Go pray at the jail.
Go walk and pray in the apartment complex.
Go pray in the trailer court.
GO and PRAY. But I can’t find the frankincense… I’m still not feeling well… My daughter will be with me… What if folks see me and wonder what I’m doing… What if they are so bitter they get angry with me being there?
Go and pray.
I didn’t let my daughter know we would be making a few stops before gathering our meat and bread for the week. I simply drove and parked to the spot closest to the jail. Walk and pray.
Strumming my hand along the course, brick walls, I prayed as Spirit led. I prayed loud, with hopes the folks just on the other side of the teeny window could hear. Down and back. Then around. There were more teeny windows on the west side of the building. Oh, cameras. What if the jailers are watching right now, wondering what on earth I am doing? Lord be with me.
Back towards the front, waiting to cross the road, what appeared to be three inmates and a deputy sat on the picnic table. Well that was fast! But really, my intercessory heart was focused on the women. There were some looks and remarks. Lord, bless them with revelation. Cross the street, in the car, my daughter waiting, we drove off.
Pulling into the apartment complex, my daughter remained quiet. I could tell she wondered what I was going to do. Where was I going to go? Invited to come along, she declined.
I’ve never been here, where do I go. Just walk and pray. Okie dokie. Walking through the buildings 801, 601, and around to the back. Who lives behind these walls? What are their lives like? Are the kids doing alright? Spirit, lead my prayers. A few residents caught me – intrigued. Lord give me words if they ask what I’m doing. Up and around and back, I continued on. A couple had been watching, lingering as they entered their apartment’s entry way. I walked and prayed. Back at the car.
My daughter remained silent. I sang the song streaming through my bluetooth’s connection…
You are not hidden
There's never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen
I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS
I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you
I pulled out onto the road. One more stop. I drove out into the country. Why had I never heard of the neighborhood out here? The houses were gorgeous. The road reflected a picture perfect fall depiction, and then we reached the second community. The signage for the park read, “Peace unto you”, if I recall correctly.
Pulling in, am I supposed to walk around here, too? Now I spoke out loud, my daughter not responding. Nope. Ok, just drive around. Another song came to mind to switch to – The Upper Room’s Break Every Chain. I turned it up, began praying again, waiting for the route. This way, then that way. My prayers were growing more fervent, believing for chains to be broken because THERE IS POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS! Spirit led prayers and fervency. My daughter looked around, in somewhat of disbelief. She seemed to ask herself what I had earlier, “Why had we not known this community was here?”
We saw a couple out and about, making eye contact and nodding a head. An older gentleman looked over somewhat exasperated. A little girl sat by the road in a rainbow tutu, appearing as happy as could be. She watched as we drove to the end of the road, turned around, and then drove back past. Intrigued, I’m sure.
My heart was arrested just before leaving the souls we had just prayed for. The song coming to an end. Seven minutes. Ha! God you are GOOD. So good I was overwhelmed and began to cry. My daughter only looked at me. We headed off to grab groceries.
As we walked through placing items in the cart, the thoughts began to creep in.
Do you really think that did any good? Pray isn’t enough. The need is greater than prayer.
Then the previous faithfulness of God, countered.
Remember praying for Ann? Just over a year later and the Lord brought the two of you together, I ministered through you, and now she has hope.
Remember praying for Missy? Again, just over a year later and the two of you were connected and I was ministering through you.
Remember circling the courthouse, praying as God led, trusting He was going to do something with the prayers of one woman who chose to rise and pray at the dawn of each Sunday morning for weeks? Now what is the result?
You are connected to the Mayor through his wife, prayers continue to go up. The weekly gatherings are taking place on the square you walked around. One business owner just off the square is now connected and beginning to grow in understanding.
Prayer initiates the process, making the request known. Remaining faithful and connected to the process is where God reveals even more tangible steps of faith to answer the prayer of those who may never know they were prayed for.
Prayer avails MUCH!
I had no idea this would be the way my day would unfold. I had no idea the posts scheduled and shared on social media were actually priming me for follow through rather than a “lip service” only. I have no idea what will come next. I do, however, have an idea regardless of the awkward looks, the suspicious glances and emptiness - I was right where I needed to be praying and God has begun to do a good work.
And I do know, God is crazy about those He loves and is determined to set free. I know He has compassion for the captives, the wounded and abused, the angry and afraid. I know His love for others is just as strong as His love for you and I.
Who are we to keep that from them if from these prayers He will be given an opportunity to make Himself known? Who am I but a woman thirsty and hungry for more? Do you know what thirst and hunger I mean? More and every last ounce of what He has, this side of heaven.