Jean Newell, Associate Pastor of Sun Lakes United Methodist Church
One afternoon, I was talking on the phone with a friend who lives in Flagstaff who was getting ready to leave on a trip to visit her sister in California. Frazzled by all there was to do before she left really early the next morning, my friend asked if I would pray for her because her mind was going 90 miles a minute. Hearing the panic rising in her voice, I suggested, “Let’s pray now!”
Originally, my intention was to pray for her to have a safe trip and a wonderful time with her sister. As an afterthought, I also prayed she’d be able to complete what needed to be done, and what was left, she’d simply let go of it and be at peace with what had been accomplished. Hearing my friend laugh as I prayed took me by surprise, so thinking I had said something I shouldn’t have, I brought the prayer to a close.
It was then my friend explained, “I have to tell you why I laughed when you prayed that I’d be at peace with whatever I finished tonight. I don’t know why it is I think my house has to be pristine when I leave on a trip, but I do. What’s funny about it is … my house certainly isn’t pristine when I’m here, so I don’t know why I’m so fussy about it when I’m gone!” Chuckling over her new insight, my friend began to relax, and her voice reflected the growing sense of peace she now felt.
Have you ever prayed, intending to say one thing, and something else comes out of your mouth? It’s times like those when I believe the Holy Spirit intercedes. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what we need to hear and when we need to hear it. Maybe it’s words of comfort or words of encouragement. Maybe it is words that will give the spirit a lift resulting in a much-needed laugh!
The next time you bow in prayer, no matter what your purpose might be, don’t be surprised if your prayer takes an unexpected turn. You may not know why you pray what you pray but, rest assured, the Holy Spirit does!