Dear Chris

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It quickly changed as right there, in the middle of the long line that was behind me, you did something that made me uncomfortable: you asked if you could pray for me.

Dear Chris,

I don’t know if you remember, but we met in line a while ago and struck up a conversation. You opened up that you recently lost your daughter and that her death affected you tremendously and propelled you toward Jesus. You mentioned that her passing made you realize the important things in life, and none of it was worldly. What you realized was that Jesus and his glory were now your focus. I was saddened by her death yet elated to hear of your newfound focus. Our conversation quickly moved to church and where we worshiped, and all was pleasant, good, and nice. But, Chris, it quickly changed as right there, in the middle of the long line that was behind me, you did something that made me uncomfortable: you asked if you could pray for me.

Chris, you don’t know this, but I’ve always felt awkward with personal prayers loud enough for all to hear. And while I know that your voice was quiet and just between you, me, and God, I struggled to focus on your words as I wondered what all those in line thought about two strangers praying in public. Instead of focusing directly on your prayer, I was busy worrying about other people. And then it happened: “Next!” was called out—and you, Chris, were next! And I know you heard this because you started to wrap it up, but you did so at a pace that acknowledged your next-ness but wasn’t motivated by it.

But, Chris, I wasn’t only uncomfortable. I was blessed and challenged. While I’m concerned about prayer snoopers and how they feel about our prayers, none of that should be trumped by my love and dedication to God—something you clearly embody. 

So thank you. Thank you for your prayer. Thank you for reminding this pastor that it’s not about what others think; it’s about what God thinks. Thank you for challenging me to worry first about the One above, and then the one beside me, and lastly me. Thank you, Chris, for leading by example. Thank you, Chris, for reminding me that there are always people watching, and I want them to see Christians living out their faith and hope in action. I want strangers to know that I don’t worship God just behind doors in the quiet of my home, but everywhere. That no matter where I am or to whom I am talking, if I am prompted to pray, then on my knees you will find me. Thank you for being open to being used by the Holy Spirit to bless someone else. But also I want to ask you to continue to pray for me as I stop trying to dictate what the Holy Spirit is doing and become more submissive to his movements.

Thank you, Chris. Thank you for who you are, your prayer, your challenge, and your reminder of how I need to be.

Sincerely, Kelly

About the Author

Kelly Vander Woude is the pastor of Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Fort Collins, Colo. He loves to smoke all kinds of food, hang out with his wife and kids, and he enjoys trying to build things on the side, which usually just means he has sore hands, lots of mistakes, and tons of sawdust.

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