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. A tear trickled down his cheek as he prayed, “Father God, I lift Bessie to you. Change her heart, and help me to lead her back to You…”
Outside, the sun crested the horizon. Congregants were starting to arrive.
Bessie cupped her hand to her mouth, asking Sue to keep a secret, “Pastor visited a liquor store with Buster. And now look,” she 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 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. I wonder if she’ll notice the whisky I poured out.”
My servant Job shall pray for you.~Job 42:8b NKUV
Pastor opened his Bible and read Job 42:8 My servant Job shall pray for you. In this passage, God invited Job to pray for three friends who’d misunderstood him. Job stood in the crossroads; if he chose to pray, his prayers could make a difference in the course his friends’ lives took. He gladly did so. No questions asked. No need for them to explain their harsh words.
This example from Job had given Pastor the fortitude to pray for Bessie.
Pastor realized that each day he prayed for Bessie, his perspective changed. He was not hopeful at first, but now, he viewed her as reachable. His intercession for Bessie had become a free-flowing move of the Spirit. At times, he wept hard for her. He knew the work of the Spirit would eventually manifest outwardly. Love would win, and he planned on continuing his intercession.
Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.~Acts 7:6b KJV
Pastor read the words Stephen prayed before the angry crowd stoned him, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. He recalled that Paul, who was at first named Saul, had participated in this stoning. Because of Stephen’s prayer, which he uttered as the mob stoned him to death, resulted in Paul’s turn-around. Paul had then become the most prolific writer of the Bible. He had become a new man because of Stephen’s final prayer.
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.~Luke 23:34b KJV
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. 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 straightened his jacket and walked towards the door. “Father God, help me to make Your Son’s story real to every person. He swung the church doors wide.
“Welcome!” Pastor greeted 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.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Copyright 2019: Prayers for Bessie: Diane Virginia: All Rights Reserved
Published: Sept 7, 2019: Christian Devotions Ministries: Martin Wiles, Managing Editor: Cindy Sproles, Executive Editor