On April 11, 2001 a mother five months pregnant with her second child was walking with her toddler when a neighbor walked up to her, looked into her blue eyes and said “I’m praying for you.” Time stopped and the woman instantly knew her situation was bad enough to “call in Jesus.” She was carrying the sins of her past and a hardened heart. She didn’t know Jesus and was dependent on others to pray for her. Time stopped.
She remembers 24 hours earlier when she was sitting in her husband’s car in the hospital parking lot. Earlier he told her, “My doctor called me at work, he said the blood tests were really bad and told me to get to the emergency room STAT.” So they sat together in the car and she listened to her husband managing a problem at work on his cell phone, when the conversation was terminated and the phone went silent. They both laughed and he said to her “Wow, it must be God shutting off my phone. That’s never happened before!”
In the emergency room doctors said his situation was grim: his platelet count had dropped to 1,000 (a normal count is 150,000-450,000) and a bump on the arm would cause his instant death. A few hours later her husband’s body would turn blue. Black blisters would form inside his mouth so he could no longer speak and doctors would say “we have no idea what is wrong with him, we’ve never seen this before.” Isolated in the ICU ward with gentle and caring nurses, the expecting father was finding the real FATHER in his heart. It would be three days of bone marrow tests, blood tests, transfusions and watchful nursing before the diagnosis was discovered. Three days of visiting relatives, emotional parents, fearful silence and wondering if the husband would ever see his child born. After the diagnosis of the rare blood disorder called ITP, the physical healing began while God initiated an emotional healing through the neighbor’s prayers.
Later the woman visited her her husband in the ICU ward of the hospital. Hospital volunteers greeted her in the lobby and gave directions. She looked to the right and saw a man dressed in black with a white collar, also getting directions to visit his patient. She rode the elevator with the priest and not a word was passed between them. When she arrived on the hospital floor and exited the elevator she turned a hallway to find yet another man in black with a white collar. He stepped into the room next door to the one she was visiting. Meeting her husband she joked with him “Did you call a priest?’ He laughed a nervous laugh and replied “Why…do I need one?”
The next day she was filled with fear after bad news from the doctor. Her pregnant body exhausted from holding back tears, she steps into the open elevator in the hospital lobby. A man in a black suit and white collar walks into the elevator with her and she says “hello” as they begin their ascent. She starts to wonder… “God, are you there? Did you just send me three priests and are you speaking to me?” She already knew the answer. God had found His prodigal daughter.
The pregnant woman arrived home and discovered her neighbors had united in her absence. While the grandparents were watching her three-year-old daughter, her neighbors had mowed the lawn, cooked meals and moved heavy trash cans to the curb. She was witnessing unconditional love and again knew God was present in her misery. He was real, He was present and He had not forgotten her. She was loved. The day her husband arrived home for another three months of healing, party balloons and a Welcome Home sign greeted them. Her husband cried and humbled himself in front of his neighbors. It was a moment none of us would ever forget.
Last month I had an opportunity to thank the neighbor who prayed for me, when I saw him sitting outside an ice cream shop with his wife. Though we had moved away and lost touch, God had not forgotten our journey. I told the man how his simple act of prayer unlocked the key to my heart and started a spiritual journey of my lifetime. My husband hugged the man and thanked him for his prayers. We both knew we had been hiding from God and drawing from our own empty wells, a hole in the ground, rather than drawing life from God. We shared our excitement with the man and his wife and thanked them for being neighbors who prayed.
“For most of us, prayer and God are last resorts. God is plan B. When somebody says ‘I’m praying for you,’ it’s almost like I recoil inside and think Oh, has it come to this? This is where we are now? It’s bad enough to pray?” Pastor Mark Hall, The Well
When my neighbor prayed for me, he had no idea his prayer would lead to a spiritual healing, repentance and restoration. He had no idea I would find my Father, reclaim my crown of inheritance and fall in love with Jesus again. He simply prayed. I invite you to pray for your neighbors today. Your prayer might just lead them to the Well.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16 NLT