In my more cynical moments, I sometimes wonder if the reason that our church gets so many calls, from other parts of the city and county, asking for help with rent and utility bills, is because our name starts with a “B.” I imagine someone sitting down with the Yellow Pages, turning to the section listing churches, and calling Antioch Baptist, Alice Bell Baptist and then Ball Camp. We try to help those who live in our community and those who show up on our doorstep. In such cases, we do what we can, which is never all that needs to be done; but it is something.
A few nights ago around ten o’clock or so, my phone rang. There was a voice mail on my office phone. I punched the buttons and listened to the distressed voice of a woman. She was calling because she needed prayer. More specifically, her family needed prayer. I heard her tears as she told of her husband’s severe addiction problem. From her description, it was apparent that this problem puts her husband, herself and their three children at risk. “Please pray,” was her only request before the message ended.
I could not help but wonder what had happened that night that prompted her call. What was it about the situation that had caused her to call a church that she had never been to asking for prayer? She was calling late at night. Was she expecting someone to answer the phone, or was she just desperate to get the word out that her family was in need of prayer, and glad to leave her request in as many church voice mail boxes as she could contact? In my mind, I pictured her in her kitchen, at her wit’s end, not knowing what to do about her situation. Afraid and uncertain, she did the only thing that she could think of to do — she cried out to God. But that was not enough. There must be something more. So she started crying out to God’s people one local church at a time.
When people come to the church during the week asking for help we have a measured way that we respond to them. This woman called asking only for prayer. I am sure in a family with three children there are likely to be financial needs, but she did not mention any of them. She did not ask for money. She did not even leave a phone number so that a follow-up call could be made. She ask that we pray for her family, and especially for her husband.
Can we help this woman and her family? Sure we can. The one resource we have that has no limits is an open and intimate relationship with God. God is always available to us and eager to meet us in prayer. We can pray anytime and all the time. This woman is asking something of us that we have in great abundance. When you pray, will you join me in lifting up this woman’s husband? Call him “Tony” if that will help to focus your thoughts and concerns for him and his family.
Sometimes when people ask us for help, we are not able to do as much as the situation requires. Sometimes people come and tell stories that seem more than a little far-fetched, and that leave us feeling like they are trying to take advantage of our generosity. Sometimes our funds are short and our resources are limited. Not this time. This time, we have a great abundance of what is needed. We have the love that God has shown to us through Jesus Christ. Prayer was all that she asked for. Will you pray?