I love prayer, truly. God knows the heart of this sometimes spacey and scattered servant of His: I do love seeking His face, His hand, His heart, His will, His mind. I wake each morning and look into His Word and ask for His eye to guide me. I plead His protection, guidance, and loving-kindness for my husband, my child, my family, and my friends. I then swing my feet out of my king-size bed to face a day that seems to have any further conversations I may have with God squarely in its crosshairs, and with one well-aimed blast, can hit my heart of prayer, smashing it into powdery ash.
This can still happen on any given day, but for many years, it happened every day. But I finally had enough. I submitted myself to God, told the devil to get lost, and got intentional about praying without ceasing. I created prayer prompts to place around my house, and a rustic red box filled with river rock now sits on the bathroom counter with scriptures to pray through and another near the front door with names of people to pray over. But my prayer life was still small and consisted mostly of praying about my day, my life, my friends, my home, my work, my soul, and my needs.
So I read books on praying around the world, around the country, and around the town. I listened to preachers preach and teachers talk about missions, malaria, and martyrs. Still with little to show, however, in the way of big, bold, others-centered prayer. I decided to go to God about it.
Not long after, my mom read an article about a guy named Brandon and his odd, incessant habit of taking photos of random people in his city. He began asking those people about themselves, eventually got noticed, and now he photographs people all around the world. She loved the story, and though I thought it was kind of cool, I was busy and didn’t really think much more of it – until a few months later when I stumbled across Brandon’s Facebook page: Humans of New York.
My breath caught in my throat. I saw photo after photo of old men, young ladies, squirming infants, beautiful women, and restless toddlers. They featured sweet smiles, cascading tears, hard faces, soft eyes, and tussled hair. There were Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, atheists, and searching souls. Americans, Ukrainians, Iranians, Jordanians, and Africans graced the page.
Businessmen, mothers, refugees, farmers, and the homeless all found their place here. And each had a story. Short though it may be, it was their story – the story they wanted to share with the world.
I didn’t even have time to think about how this page would affect my prayer life, I just prayed.
I prayed healing and comfort for the chubby brunette who said she “would never forget the day” she was placed into foster care at just 10 years old after her mama committed suicide.
I prayed for the handsome, white-bearded New Yorker whose best piece of advice is, “Don’t make eye contact.” and asked that some tender yet tenacious Christ-follower would have the opportunity look into his icy blue eyes and tell him about Jesus.
I prayed for the strength and joy of the Holy Spirit to dwell and reign in an refuge center filled with children from war-torn countries, and for the workers to exhibit the love of Christ.
I spent an hour pouring through pictures, weeping and praying over those precious souls made in the image of the Creator and worth the blood of Christ.
Humans of New York has transformed how I see humans everywhere, and they now stir my heart of prayer. The hyper boys playing soccer in the field near my home, the weary mama pushing a shopping cart in the grocery store with three little ones in tow, the elderly lady with a scowl and a limp, the mailman who walks across my newly manicured lawn – they all have a story, too. “What is it, Lord?
“Whatever it is, draw them and guide them. Reveal your love and your will. Destroy the work and strongholds of the enemy. Loosen knots of worry and depression. Heal body and soul. Strengthen mind and heart. Wrap them in your love. Grant peace. Give joy. And most of all, may they come to know you as Lord and Savior.”
All photos credited to and property of www.HumansofNewYork.com