Earlier this week, I was walking near Herald Square (always a busy part of Manhattan) and came upon a group of people wearing red aprons that read, “Prayer changes things.” I’d seen this site before in another part of the city, so I knew right away these folks were out there to pray with and for anyone passing by. The aprons come from Prayer Stations, a ministry that provides supplies and training for Christians to offer intercessory prayer for people walking down the street or in any outdoor public space.
I was rushing to an appointment, but I still stopped for prayer because I was excited to be on the receiving end of a prayer ministry similar to mine. Moreover, I needed it. I’d recently learned that my grandfather was actively dying, and I’d just planned a trip back home to say “good-bye.”
The person I stopped to pray with turned out to be a Baptist pastor from Indiana. He gave me a word of advice for officiating my grandfather’s funeral when the time came - use his first name (not “Papa”) throughout the service to make sure I don’t get too choked up. Then he held my hand and prayed a very simple prayer.
Many of the things I observe and hear from people in my own street prayer ministry became true for me. I cried. I thought how this was just what I needed right when I needed it, and God must have known that. I felt strengthened, spiritually nourished, and a little more ready to deal with what lay ahead.
As those red aprons affirm, prayer does change things, primarily because prayer changes us. This change usually happens over time, but you can feel it in the moment too, especially when someone prays for you. On the trip home to be with my family, my father said, “You know the Holy Spirit is all around, but sometimes you can feel it sock you right in the gut.” Sometimes you can feel the Spirit warm your heart. It’s a welcome feeling, and one that builds my faith and trust in Jesus. In praying for my grandfather, I hope his heart is warmed too.