By Diane Virginia
Before sunrise, Pastor Troy unlocked the doors of Countryside Church. It was his custom to pray for the people before they arrived. He touched the back of a pew where Bessie customarily sat.
“Father God, I lift Bessie up to you…” A tear trickled down his cheek as he prayed.
Outside, the sun crested the horizon. Congregants were starting to arrive.
Bessie cupped her hand to her mouth. She asked Sue to keep a secret, “Pastor visited a liquor store with Buster. And now look,” Bessie lifted an empty whiskey bottle from the trash, “He must be boozing it up before services….”
Pastor glanced out the window, and noticed the bottle in Bessie’s hand.
“Lord, I’m not worried about the tale she’ll spin. Buster exchanged the whiskey bottle for a ride home. That’s how the bottle ended up in the church trash. I’ll give him a ride again if he needs one.”
Pastor opened his Bible and read Job 42:8b “My servant Job shall pray for you.” Here, God was inviting Job to pray for three friends who misunderstood him. Job stood in the crossroads; if he chose to pray for them, his prayers could make a difference in the course his friends’ lives took. He gladly did so. This example had given Pastor the fortitude to pray for Bessie often.
Pastor realized that each day he prayed for Bessie, his perspective of her changed. He was not hopeful at first, but now, he saw her as broken but reachable. His intercession for Bessie had become a free-flowing move of the Spirit. At times, he even wept for her. He knew the work of the Spirit would eventually manifest outwardly even though he did not yet see any change in Bessie. Love would win, and he planned on making a difference through intercession.
Pastor read the words Stephen prayed before the angry crowd stoned him, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge (Acts 7:60b KJV).” Pastor recalled that Paul, who was at first named Saul, had participated in this stoning. Because of Stephen’s dying prayer, Paul had turned his life around, and had become the most prolific writer of the Bible.
Pastor thought about the words Jesus prayed as He died for the sins of the world, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34b KJV).” While Jesus’ enemies gambled for His clothing, He chose to extend forgiveness.
“Father, forgive Bessie, too. She’s not aware of what she’s doing.” He hoped his prayers could help rewrite Bessie’s story….
He brushed away the tear, and moved to the next pew section, praying blessings on each person who came to Sunday service, calling in salvations, healings, marital restoration, and family unity.
Pastor Troy walked towards the door. He straightened his jacket.
“Father God, help me to make Jesus’ story real to every person You permit me to minister to. Let my life be a reflection of Your grace upon my life. I want to share Your Son’s gift of salvation with every person.”
He swung the church doors wide.
“Welcome!” Pastor said, greeting each person with a hardy handshake. He knew a secret he longed for Bessie to learn—that God’s love transforms rivals into friends.
Lord God, help my prayers to be a wellspring of life for those who are far from You.
Prayers for Bessie is a fictional story. Copyright © 2019: All rights reserved: VineWords: Prayers for Bessie: Author Diane Virginia Cunio; Pen Name, Diane Virginia: www.vinewords.net