Has it ever happened to you where you were rushing to get somewhere and you ran into someone you knew who appeared in distress? Did you feel a little nudge to stop, listen, and love? Did you ignore this nudge and hurry away to fulfill yet another obligation and regret this later, knowing that your gift of time and prayer should have been offered? I recall this happening a while back when I should have taken the time to be present for my friend, but did not and so missed her story of devastating illness. She died three weeks later. If I had only listened to the nudge to stop, listen, pray, and love.
Another time, I listened to a gentleman whom I have known for years speak from his heart with deep caring and concern for his beloved, ailing mom. I felt a nudge (there it was again) and heard the prompting of God’s whisper to live my faith and respond. I was filled with compassion for this strong, gifted person who was living in a time of uncertainty and fear, a situation he could not control or change I could understand this; I have been there.
As we parted company, I looked into his misty eyes and said “I will pray for you; I will pray for your mom”. We hugged and he expressed his thankfulness for the prayers and he went on to deal with the matters at hand. My friend is an atheist. I continue to pray for him and his mom. I do not know about you, but my prayer list is lengthy and getting longer. The way I look at it, this is quite fine, as I extend God’s love. I believe the moments we are presented with every day provide so many opportunities to connect and respond in love and service to our sisters and brothers. There are many chances to sincerely say, “I will pray for you.”
I have been nudged to write about what I call the GNF, that is, the God Nudge Factor, for a while now. This is that little voice of wisdom and encouragement that comes from paying attention with a transparent, listening heart, hearing the prompts from God. These are our hearts as transformed by a living and loving God. The GNF, when we choose to accept it, opens our eyes and ears to respond to the never-ending opportunities to live love. I think a key way to respond to the GNF is to simply acknowledge the person we are with and the concern they may have (we do not need to know what the concern is) and to tell them “I will pray for you” and then of course do just that. We often cannot change a person’s situation or concern, but we can pray for God’s blessing upon them. Knowing others care and that they are prayed for is healing in some way, in and of itself.
Responding to the GNF requires us to be vulnerable, present, patient, and attentive. It requires us to respond without judgment and to ask God to bless others and address their needs. Of course responding to the GNF may be as I have noted here, reaching out and saying “I will pray for you,” but it includes many other wonderful and challenging service opportunities. This may include making casseroles, running errands for, or giving rides to shut-ins; serving at a mission or food pantry; providing a listening heart and ear; or a gentle compassionate hug.
The sky is the limit to such opportunities. The message in the GNF is personal to you, and the key is to take the chance to respond to God’s call in everyday situations in our families, with friends, in our churches and communities, in our workplaces, in the world, and with strangers.
Praying for others builds relationships and can also be contagious and encouraging. Being attentive to the GNF is good, very good. Take a chance and keep the words “I will pray for you” close at hand. It would be very inspiring to hear your stories of the GNF at work in your lives.
Over the years, nobody has ever said to me, “No please do not pray for me,” not even my atheist friends. God’s love revealed through the GNF and demonstrated human compassion is a wonderful thing. “They will know we are Christians by our love” (inspired by John 13:35).