Broken Prayer / Broken Heart

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.

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.

Humanity.

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….

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24 comments

  1. Agent X · July 5

    This comment sent in from a reader, copied and pasted here:

    Touching. Powerful. Humane.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous · July 6

    And I will pray for yout continued ability to pray. You are doing good. Hang in there with the Lord.I know the Holy Spirit is speaking for you with a smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. paulfg · July 6

    “I really need an answer to prayer.”

    It is enough. You are enough. Always. You cannot make others choose. You cannot make God choose to make others choose. And you cannot choose to be more than you are.

    So you are enough. Always.

    ((hugs))

    Liked by 1 person

  4. BrookeM · July 6

    Agent X, I’ll share your burden with you this morning. I’m praying for you and your entire list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · July 6

      Thanx for the prayers, thanx for bearing the load with me.

      Like

  5. Mike Ridenour · July 6

    I hear you and pray for you at this moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Strength to you!
    Perhaps a moment of music will make the difference. Listen to “Jerry”
    https://myspace.com/nikkineretin/music/song/jerry-48609831-52248210
    My friend, Nikki Neretin, wrote a song about one of her homeless patients who did disappear for a time only to reemerge a few years later. It’s a touching feel-good song.

    Peace

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · July 6

      Thanx for this feedback!

      I visited the link you posted. Still trying to figure out how to listen to the song. Will get my kids to help me! Ha…

      So glad to have you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · July 6

      Got it. Cool song. Fitting. Thanx!

      Like

  7. John Lewis · July 6

    Keep praying brother. And know you are prayed for yourself…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Broken Prayer / Broken Heart II | Fat Beggars School of Prophets
  9. Al · July 7

    “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” -Psalm 37:5

    God is with you and answers all prayers that are raised up to Him. I am praying for you and for all on your prayer list.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ryan · July 10

    I take comfort in God’s answer to Job. He doesn’t tell Job the reason for suffering, instead He just shows up, in disturbing presence. Jesus does the same thing (you know, being God and everything). In His first coming He doesn’t heal the whole world like we’d want, right all the wrongs, kill all the bad guys. Instead He just shows up in disturbing presence and offers us what we need most, Himself. Like Job, I still want to argue with God about the details… but when I’ve run out of things to say He’s there to suffer with me.

    Praying for you X. Sorry I’m just now seeing this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · July 10

      You are right about God’s answer to Job (or lack thereof). However, I am surprised you take comfort in it. Personally, I am disturbed by it. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the world…?” points out Job’s inadequacy in God’s presence in contrast to God’s, and that creates an effect in which we derive an answer … sort of….

      But St. Paul demarcates Christians as suffering people by design in Romans 5:3-5 (among other places) which plays a part in ironing out the wrinkles passages like Job leave for us as we wrestle with God.

      At the level of settling issues, I find comfort in that. I have a vocation to suffer. It is not vain. It has a grand purpose which is more grand that I can imagine.

      This much helps me.

      The fact that it involves suffering is still unsettling at other levels…

      I am no masochist. But now the onus is on me to explain the difference.

      Thanx so much for your response. Your input is highly valued here!

      God bless you…

      X

      Like

  11. Wow! what a wake up call! I never thought of it like this…books safe, dry, warm…and people outside, cold, wet, freezing! That really puts things into perspective! I’m going to reblog this! Thanks for opening my eyes once again! -anita

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · July 11

      Anita,

      Thanx for this response. Sometimes it occurs to me that I would not have this perspective except that I spent the night out there with them. (Actually, on that first night out, I wimped out and packed it in about 3 or 4 in the morning.)

      I think I need to write a post dealing with the transition that happens when you cross the threshold of other kinds of ministry into the world of poverty. There are important dynamics at work that I normally do not address or really offer due respect. Perhaps sharing and talking about those insights might help.

      That said, I do not expect every person to do what I did. It is not necessary. Some folx need to be taking ministry to the cancer ward. Others to the children’s home. Some to the far reaches of civilization and creation. We can’t all be on the streets, and I know that. I respect that.

      However some of us do need to be there. And for those who are called elsewhere, our witness and observations need to have a hearing – thus this blog. Yes. When you lay there shivering in the cold and damp, you start looking at things in a new light. You start asking, “What can be done?” And of course there are a lot of books, papers, blogs, research projects, political campaigns and so forth that address that question in various ways. They tend to be a few various ways, but they are not monolithic in their answers.

      I, of course, ask the same question, but I ask others as well. And one of them that came to mind quite bluntly that night for me was… “Why in a “Christian” town/community like Lubbock, Texas are the books kept inside and the people kept outside?” And of course, chasing an answer to a question like that is bound to lead to convicting answers.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Yep! They did something similar to the folks here in Denver on the 16th St. Mall. They picked up all their stuff in garbage trucks– shopping carts, bikes, bedding, food, card board box homes, their clothes…everything! …and told them to leave the area…but they never gave them a place to go to! It broke my heart, and made me very angry at the same time! They said they moved them because it was bad for the tourist trade! Now days, it’s all about status and money! So sad! Keep on preaching the truth brother! We all need to hear it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · July 11

      That kind of thing is happening a lot around the nation. I posted some videos different people made of such raids in Florida, California, and New Jersey a while back on a single post. You should google a guy by the name of Minister Steve. He started a tent city in New Jersey several years ago, left his job and home and went there to live and minister to folks. They built up quite a remarkable city in the woods adjacent to down town area, but after a few years the city finally put the kibosh on it. There is a LOT of footage of various aspects of that ministry on the web. Russian television did a documentary on Steve a few years ago too. Steve would up, last I knew, trying to build a tent city on a flotilla of rafts in the harbor that could move around to avoid the authorities. I think it failed, but it was an extraordinary attempt.

      In that documentary, Steve passes by huge mansion along the shoreline that serve as summer homes for the rich and powerful, but get shut down in mothballs through the harsh NJ winters. He asks similar questions as he ponders all those empty rooms with homeless people sleeping outside across town.

      As for the raids, we managed to avoid such drama here in Lubbock, but effectively did the same thing. The difference was that some non-profit ministries stepped up and arranged to provide a tent city service. This, of course, was one type of answer to my question, but in my view a very substandard answer. I wonder what Jesus would do if he were head of the body of Christ here in Lubbock. He was born in a barn, he knows what it is like. But he gives far better gifts than that. Plus, he claims those po folx are him (Matt. 25). What would Lubbock give to Jesus if he were born here? I would like to think that every Christian home in this town would bend over backward to host him in their empty spare rooms. In fact, if it were really Jesus the King of Creation, I would imagine Christians offering their “master bedrooms” and moving themselves to the servant quarters. But of course I am the only one I know of imagining that.

      I went and joined the Premier Homeless Church here in town because I had heard they were taking people in on cold winter nights despite city ordinances. I heard they got around the ordinance by claiming they were holding all night prayer vigils. As long as at least one person stayed up praying (even in shifts) through the night, this was no lie at all, but still managed an end run around the unjust law. That excited me.

      Sadly, the minister that was heading that up got sacked after a couple of years and the new leadership closed the doors. They have since brought a “housing first” program to Lubbock, but it appears to me to be a merit based program calling itself housing first. However, I do not know that first hand since I got kicked out of that church for insisting we continue the old prayer vigil type ministry. Thus, I am no longer an insider, nor privy to current policies and procedures, but relegated to the margins where this is the appearance.

      Thus, I blog.

      Thanx again, so much, for your feedback!

      Like

  13. Pingback: Adding Names to the Prayer List | Fat Beggars School of Prophets
  14. christianperkins110 · July 21

    Hang in there, brother. Ministry carries a burden, especially when dealing with the homeless. The stories you hear and the things you see can be awful sometimes. I have often wondered just how much light I’m shining, after praying and planting seeds and not seeing growth. But, as you read in my “Just Love” God responded to that. What you’re doing takes a strong person, and even then, it takes God to get you through. I thank God for what you do, I hope to learn more about it! God bless -Christian

    Liked by 1 person

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