Thomas, Mark, Jerry, Jason, Heather, Dennis, Ricardo, Ishmael, George, Belinda, Leo, Pedro, Sylvia, Charles, Autumn, Jeremy, Damien, John, Gina, Jessica (and her friends from Denver), Andy, Aaron, Dustin, Aaron, Justina, Mike, Faith, Erika, Rudy, Catman, Daniel, Daniel, Jennifer, Steve-O, Patty, James, May, Lee, Suzi, Matt, Mary, Tex, Ryan, Roadkill, Scarlett, Harry, Happy, Hank, Kate, Kathy, David, Tasha, William-Lee, Johnny, Lucio, Trip, Stephen, Sarah, Mamma DJ, Craig, Antwon, Allison, Cassandra, Melissa, Michael, Daniel, Qurran, Raul, John, Alabama (and the one’s whose names I am prohibited from sharing)
This is the prayer list.
Have you ever made friends with a homeless person living on the streets? And then having become friends, have you ever lost touch with that person for a spell – say maybe a few weeks, a few months, a year or more – and then met this person again after all this time has passed? Have you ever had the privilege of looking that homeless friend in the eye and say in all honesty: “I have prayed for you by name on a daily basis since the last time we met.”?
I have numerous times. And I don’t know how it feels to be that homeless person and hear that, but I think it is a powerful moment for them. It usually puts a sudden pause in the greetings.
But as you can see by my list, it is quite long. It is burdensome. Cumbersome. Hard to remember everyone on it. Time-consuming to pray for them. A challenge. Tiresome.
Today I was defeated. Not for the first time, exactly. I have fumbled names and the prayers for them on a few occasions, but today it was just too much.
I pray for people who do not know or appreciate it. To a God who has yet to answer the prayers that I have offered for years. And the churches who have shunned me and kicked me out for my trouble are no encouragement, but a discouragement instead.
Sometimes I feel anger over this stuff, but usually I just embrace patience and settle in for the long view, the long haul. But today, I just felt broke down. Busted. Tired.
These names are not the sum total of my prayers. I have a long list of thanks as well. I have personal matters I pray about. Not all of my intercessions are for the homeless either. But this list of names is the burden on my heart that drives my vocation.
I made no vow to pray for them. I just feel the hurt for them. I attempted to sleep at the all-night prayer vigil for the homeless several years ago at the Mahon Library downtown (before the city ran the homeless off the property) and my heart just broke. This is not how precious humanity is supposed to live.
There is nothing of higher value. God’s crowning achievement of creation (Gen. 1:26-27). But these humans slept outside in the cold next to a building that housed books – books kept safe and dry inside while God’s crowning achievement languished on the concrete in the cold night.
Books – inside… safe and dry.
Humanity – outside… cold and wet.
And that broke my heart.
And now the load, the heavy load of praying for them, breaks me down too. I am busy. I have things to do. I have dreams put aside so I can minister to these. I have responsibilities that have nothing to do with them, and which compete for my attention. And I am broke down from it.
Please forgive me.
I really need an answer to prayer.
Meanwhile, I am broke down.
But still, this burden won’t let me go….