Some of the best moments of my life have been marked by the decision to hold hands and pray.
One of the places where I have learned the most about holding hands and praying is The Lamb Center, a day shelter for homeless and poor individuals in Fairfax. Many of the guests that spend the night at our church when we host the Floris Guest House each year spend their days as guests of The Lamb Center.
At The Lamb Center, we hold hands and pray at least six times a day as a community. We pause, we gather, we join hands and we bow our heads. We talk to God about what has happened so far in our day and what is coming next. We acknowledge how much we need our Heavenly Father and how much we need each other. We say thank you, and we ask for help. No fancy words or rituals, just a moment to say, “We love you too, Lord.”
In this community, prayer is a part of the moment-by-moment rhythm of each day, as natural as breathing. If I’m honest, this kind of “praying without ceasing” is a way of living to which I have always aspired personally but have never been able to consistently maintain on my own.
One of my favorite times of prayer at The Lamb Center happened this past summer. In June, after years of waiting and hoping, we celebrated our beautiful, brand new building with an enormous party. Over 400 people wandered through and took tours of the place God built in answer to thousands of prayers. Community leaders spoke, we cut a red ribbon with giant scissors and we took hundreds of pictures. It was a day brimming with joy, laughter and gratitude.
Two years before, we set out to raise $4.5 million to build a more welcoming place of respite for poor and homeless individuals in our community. When the party started that Sunday, we were joyfully celebrating the fact God had already provided $4 million toward our goal through the generosity and prayers of his people, an amount beyond our wildest dreams.
When the party ended, as if all of the above wasn’t enough, we found out someone had agreed to pay the final balance on the building. All $4.5 million was provided, and the building is paid in full! Without a mortgage, we will be able to pour all future donations into services for our guests. As we held hands and prayed our closing prayer of gratitude that day, I was not the only one in tears. Truly, a miracle!
So what is the message here? If we hold hands and pray six times a day, God will give us $4.5 million and the desires of our heart?
Not really. But maybe?
Holding hands and praying together is full of hard things like humility, vulnerability, intimacy and expectations. We admit we don’t have all the answers and we need help. We acknowledge our lack of control and our reliance on things much bigger than ourselves, both God and the power of community. We let down our guard, and we take off our masks of superiority, pride and independence. We can’t see what is coming when we bow our heads and close our eyes. As we widen our circle, we discover some of our hands are a little bit dirty, or sweaty, or freezing cold. Sometimes, holding hands and praying together can be uncomfortable or awkward.
Yet, every single time I hold hands and pray with someone else, I experience the tangible presence of God. I can’t always say the same when I pray alone. We reach out our hand and humble our hearts to pray:
- gathered at the table about to share a meal with people we love
- headed out to serve for the day on a mission trip
- preparing to go on stage with fellow cast members
- enjoying coffee in a dear friend’s living room
- searching for healing and answers in the face of illness, anger, tragedy or grief
Holy and profound things happen when we hold hands and pray. Healing, forgiveness and transformation happen when we hold hands and pray.
Miracles happen when we hold hands and pray.
Originally published on www.kellyjohnsongracenotes.com.