It started off like a typical day at the park. I was walking the trails, listening to music on my phone, and enjoying hearing the sound of a nearby waterfall.
I came to the end of the first trail, stopped, and looked at a sign that had a map of the park. I normally would continue on the trail to the right, as I know the trail well. But for some reason, I felt a strong urgency to cross the street and take the trail to the left. I wasn’t sure where this trail would lead or what I would see, but I sensed that I was supposed to take it. So I went.
About 5 minutes later, I was walking along, and up ahead I saw a woman laying on the ground, crying out in pain. Four other people were surrounding her. As I walked closer, this thought came to mind, “Julie, you need to stop and pray for her.”
Before I go on, you should know that I used to be the girl who would never pray out loud, even if I was with a small group of people I knew. Praying out loud made me nervous. I was afraid I would say the wrong thing or not sound “spiritual enough.” It’s taken me years to be able to pray out loud, but it’s still something I’m not completely comfortable doing. So the thought of walking up to and praying for a complete stranger is definitely outside my comfort zone. I’ve never done it before, but the closer I got, the more I sensed, “Julie, you NEED to stop and pray for her.”
So I stopped. The woman, who was in her 60’s, was now sitting up, but in obvious pain, and had multiple scratches/cuts from her fall. It appeared that she had slipped on a tiny crabapple that was on the path and now she wasn’t sure if her ankle was broken or badly sprained. Her husband dialed 911, and the other people who initially stopped left, since they knew help was coming. I, however, felt compelled to stay. As her husband was talking to the emergency dispatcher, I sensed once again, “Julie, you need to pray for her.”
I bent down and introduced myself, and after a few seconds of “small talk,” I said, “Would you mind if I pray for you?” She welcomed the prayers, and right there, in the middle of this unknown trail, I prayed for a complete stranger. It wasn’t a long prayer. It wasn’t super spiritual. It was a simple, heart-felt prayer for help, comfort, and healing.
After I prayed, this thought came to mind, “Now stay and talk with her to distract her from the pain.” So as her husband continued to talk to the emergency dispatcher, I stayed and talked with Sara.* Despite her pain, she was able to carry on a conversation with me, and we even laughed a few times.
Her husband eventually got off the phone, and as we were waiting for the ambulance to arrive, he said to me, “When I was on the phone, did I hear you pray for my wife?”
I wasn’t sure if he believed in God or how he felt about prayer, but I said, “Yes. I felt led to pray for your wife, so I did.”
He said, “Thank you.” And then he reached out his hand and said, “I’m Dan.*"
The simple act of praying for someone tears down walls.
Prayer creates bridges – not only between us and God, but between people. By praying for one another we become connected to each other.
We continued talking, and I discovered that Dan and his wife are both Christians.
I told him, “I wish I would’ve met both of you under different circumstances,” and Dan replied, “You were here when we needed prayer. I don’t know of any better circumstance than that.”
A few minutes later, the park ranger and ambulance arrived and I said goodbye.
I continued walking the trails for another hour and reflected on what had just happened.
I believe God gave me the prompting to take a different trail today because He knew Sara was going to fall. I believe God prompted me to stop and pray because He knew it would comfort her in a time of distress. I believe God could have used anyone to do this, but for some reason He chose me.
Sometimes, God’s promptings may cause us to step outside our comfort zones.
If I’m honest, I don’t always listen to these promptings. But when I do, and I see clear evidence of God’s hand at work, it always encourages me to follow the next prompting.
Today, I was prompted to pray for a stranger, but she has always been known by God.
What is God prompting you to do?
*Names have been changed.
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.