Most Common Prayer Request

Would you like to guess what prayer request I hear from the Guests at the Lighthouse Mission the most?  There is one prayer request comes up with far greater frequency than all others.  Care to take a guess at what is most often at the forefront of the hearts and minds of the Guests at the Lighthouse?  When a Guest asks me to pray for them, what is that they want the most, that feels the most desperate, that feels like something only God can do?  

If you guessed that the people experiencing homelessness would most frequently ask for housing, you’d be incorrect. 

If you guessed that the people who cannot feed themselves would most frequently ask for food, you’d be incorrect. 

If you guessed that the people who do not have a job would most frequently ask for work, you’d be incorrect.  

I often pray with the Guests for housing, food, and work, and we talk about these things frequently.  Yet there’s still something else that is the primary source of motivation, shame, passion, and desire for the majority of the Guests that I’ve had the chance to know.  

The number one prayer request I hear from the Guests of the Lighthouse Mission is to be reconnected to the people they love.  By a country mile this is what we pray for the most.  It’s the distance they feel from their parents, it’s the pain they’ve caused their children, it’s the separation they feel from their spouses, it’s the bridges they’ve burned from their friends.  What they hope for the most is to be reconnected with their family and friends, and it often feels the most hopeless, and so we pray together.  

I remember praying with a man who had been an abusive alcoholic, and needed to be separated from his wife and kids.  Now he was clean and sober.  But there was still so many necessary steps he needed to take, which would take years, before he could start the process of trying to regain their trust.  And would they even want to trust him again?  We prayed for perseverance, faith, hope, and a willingness for him to continue down this path regardless of if his family would take him back or not.  He wanted to love himself enough to do this, no matter the outcome, and so we prayed that his love for Christ would orient everything else he loves.     

I remember praying with a woman who was six months pregnant, and she was sobbing because she knew her baby would leave the hospital with Child Protective Services, and she was going to leave the hospital alone.  She wasn’t clean and sober “all the time” and didn’t have any way to care for a baby, and yet she didn’t know if she’d ever see her baby again.  We cried together, and we prayed for the health of her baby, and we prayed that she would follow God in becoming the sort of woman and mother that she wanted to be.  And that, when she was ready, she’d be able to find her child again. 

In the midst of the sadness and pain, there’s a lot that I receive from my friends experiencing homelessness.  One of my greatest joys is receiving the frequent reminder of the importance of staying connected to the people I love.  Look, I can be impatient with my my kids.  I can be selfish with my wife.  I can let the stress of work impact how I treat the people around me.  I can grow weary of doing good, of putting the needs of others ahead of my own, of attending to how others receive me.  And I am more patient, less selfish, and more attentive to my family and friends because I am friends with people who help me keep my priorities straight.  I’m a better husband, father, family member, and friend because of my friendships with the Guests at the Lighthouse.   

So when I think about Church, I get excited when I think about cultivating worshipping communities where other people can experience the gift of friendships with people on the fringes of life.  Keeping us focused on loving ourselves, our families and our friends, even when it’s really difficult, is just one example of how the poor can guide all of us in what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God.