I couldn't shake it. By all appearances, it was a normal day in my favorite class--the Psychology of Play--, but my mind was far from focused. Every Monday and Wednesday at lunch, I cheerily waved hello to friends and waltzed into our bright classroom content with an overflowing salad. But today, with every bite I became more and more unsettled. It started a few days ago: I resolved to not pass up any opportunity I saw to pray for someone; Whether it be for physical healing, emotional turmoil, or whatever other darkness happened to be hovering that day. I was angsty in class because I had walked right past a girl on crutches who was complaining to her friend about the injury and I hadn't offered prayer. I was supposed to be helping to lead class that day, but five minutes in, while my partner was teaching, I walked out the door.
She was still there. And less people were around. Sweet.
"Hi! My name is Taylor. This might be really weird but I love Jesus and believe that He heals people so I wondered if I could pray for whatever is going on with your leg." Her eyes lit up, "This made my day!" Her friend swooned and said, "Oh, wow, ya we need so much prayer."
If you can make it past the awkward three seconds it takes to introduce and explain yourself, you feel a little invincible. These girls jumped at the offer to be prayed for but even if they had stared at me and said no, I would've walked in faith and offered love like I wanted to. And that's reward enough. God honors that stuff. It's up to him to perform the miracle but He invites us to help make the space for them.
I asked a few questions about what was going on. She said she was getting an MRI later in the day and all she knew was that she couldn't walk well and that her hip was in a lot of pain. She and her friend were on the cross country team. I said I was a runner too and understood the frustration of injuries. With her eyes glistening a little now she said, "Can we all hold hands while you pray?" Absolutely. "Jesus, thank you for these girls and for the amazing bodies you've given them. Thank you that they run well and that you are delighted when they use their gifting. Holy Spirit, come and release your healing into this leg. I command all pain to leave, right now, in Jesus' name. Leg, be healed."
She thanked me and I asked if she wanted to try walking on it to see if the pain had decreased. She stood up and took a few steps and said, "I mean it still hurts but I haven't been able to walk on it all week and now I can!" I asked if I could pray for it again and she said yes. I prayed again and thanked her for letting me pray for her. I reassured her that Jesus loved her and that He wants her healing. She hugged me and said, "Let me give you my number so I can keep you updated on how the MRI goes!" Sure thing.
I said goodbye and walked back into class and back to my salad. I finished leading class in peace. A few days later, I texted the girl and asked how she was doing and how the MRI went. She told me again how grateful she was for the prayer and said the MRI showed a stress fracture in her femur and that she was struggling with the news. I texted her back saying that I was sad with her and I encouraged her in her gifting. She thanked me again and expressed how much she appreciated the prayer.
I'm not a huge fan of the picture some Christian circles paint of 'street ministry.' It's like going up to random people to pray for them or share the Gospel is always scary and unpleasant; It's like its a spiritual goal to be attained once you're mature and brave enough; Or, it's only for the Evangelists. Growing up, I was warned about all the backlash I would get from offering prayer or speaking about Jesus' love to strangers. In my mind, street ministry was controversial, scary, but yet somehow revered. What freed me, changed my heart, and gave me courage to pursue this kind of ministry wasn't studying Jesus' evangelism method or laboring over why it was controversial. My heart changed because I let myself receive more of God's grace and the only appropriate response I saw was to lace the streets and strangers with that same grace.
Personally, I've never received backlash. I've heard stories from friends about close calls, but it doesn't seem to be the norm (at least in the US). I don't see people so much as fundamentally opposed to Jesus as much as I see them scarfing down any love that's thrown at them. If we make it clear our intentions are to love them exactly how they need, they'll take it. I just make sure that they know it's Jesus loving them through me and that He has more for them.
I know another discomfort with street ministry can be its effectiveness and the questions it can stir in our hearts. Am I left to conclude that my prayer was purposeless or ineffective because the girl wasn't fully healed? No. I announced Jesus love to this girl and prayed which always moves something in the spiritual. Because she wasn't fully healed, do I entertain thoughts that lead me doubt God's goodness and desire to heal every part of our lives? No. I can't answer why miracles don't manifest every time though we pray in faith. Maybe someone else can. But I don't dwell on that question anymore. I've decided in my heart to believe that God is good, that He is on my team, and that He will fulfill His purposes in each person's life perfectly no matter what I see in the natural. Anything that tries to challenge those beliefs I don't give any attention or power to; anything that creeps in that tries to make me question the character of my God, I stand up against.
I've found that since I've made the resolve to believe in God's goodness and His immense desire to manifest no matter what, my spirit is at peace and I'm not bothered when healings don't happen in the natural. God is still good and I am still invited to contend for His Kingdom to be made manifest on earth. Nothing cancels that assignment, and nothing challenges who my King is. Peace is found in God's character laid out in the Bible, not in the inconsistent experiences of our world. His character is what gives me hope that this world can experience more joy and love than it currently does. If I let that hope take a beating and even pick up a bat myself and join in, I'm only discouraging my spirit and creating cracks for doubt.
What I do pay attention to is how my heart is changed by stepping out in faith; I pay attention to the love ripples that wouldn't have existed had I not taken a stand against darkness. My favorite part of this story is a message I received a few hours after I prayed for this girl. It was from a friend in Cru and it read that she had seen me pray and how encouraged she was by watching me step out in faith. I purposed to respond the Spirit's promptings and from that flowed encouragement, not only to the girl I prayed for, but also for a sister in Christ.
The way I think about all this is that there's too much to be gained to not at least try responding to the Spirit. There's a new kind of intimacy to be had with God when we practice faith and courage and the sacrifice is three seconds of awkwardness. To me, it's worth it.
What I've learned about what it means to be transformed into the image of Christ, be reconciled to Him, myself, & others, and how to be His disciple.