“God, let us speak the words you want us to speak, touch the people you want to us to touch.”
I have prayed this prayer countless times as I’ve ministered to students and people around the world. As a host, we pray that for our groups, and encourage them to pray it for themselves. But seeing God directly answer that pray never ceases to give me the chills!! Tonight I had one of those moments.
Tonight was the first big night of our Spring Season, with 6 serving groups arriving to serve this coming week. As with almost every group, we kicked off their week of ministry with the San Francisco Prayer Tour. As a part of the Prayer Tour, groups visit Coit Tower, a famous landmark here in SF, and a popular tourist spot. The tower is situated at the top of Telegraph Hill and is a fantastic lookout point over the city. After giving the students a few minutes to look around, we gather them up and read this scripture.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)
We talk about all of the lights that can be seen from the lookout point, no matter how dark, foggy, etc the surroundings may be. We each have our own “schpeal” that we give, or even several versions depending on the personality of the group, how cold it is, etc., but tonight, something was different…
As I gave my normal schpeal, I found myself speaking words not a part of my normal scripts. But recognizing the words as not my own, I continued to speak. (If you’ve never experienced this, it may sound really weird, but sometimes you just know that it is God speaking through you, and not your own intellect.) As I continued, I noticed someone sitting close behind me on the half wall. Assuming he was part of my group, I considered asking him to move in front of me with the rest of the group, but decided it wasn’t a big deal. At some point I realized he was not part of our group, but I just continued to speak to my group.
As I finished, and turned to gather everyone in a circle to pray, the man sitting behind me simply said “that was a good word”. Before I could think about what I was saying, I apologized, saying I thought he was part of my group. “It’s fine”, he replied, “we’re all one group as the body of of Christ!” Before I could even get over my amazement of his response, I realized he was not alone, but with 5 other people!
I quickly introduced myself and CSM, and my students explained that they were here on their Spring Break to serve the city. Excited to meet our new friends, but understanding the time pressure that Night #1 always has, I quickly moved to continue onto our prayer portion. Not wanting to exclude our new-found brothers and sisters, however, we invited them to join us in our prayer circle. It was the most powerful prayer circle I have experienced in my 6 months here.
As complete strangers huddled together in the freezing wind on the grounds of a busy tourist hot spot in San Francisco, we poured out our hearts to God, praying and prophesying over the city below us. Praying for God to bring his love, his power, his warmth, his compassion, his salvation, his redemption, his mercy, and his justice into the city. I found myself in such a paradox: excited and moved by the Holy Spirit so obviously present in that moment as I was the last person to pray. I was speechless by the amazingness of God, but so full of words I wanted to cry out to him.
Later tonight as we debriefed, so many of my students were so excited to see how God had already answered their prayer for Divine Appointments. I was reminded of how important it is to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow his leading. We also were reminded that you truly never know who is watching or listening!
Even as I write this post, I get chills thinking about. We took a picture with both groups, and parted ways. We never found out where the other group was from, or what they were doing here in the city. But one thing we know for sure was that God put them at Coit tower at the exact same time that our groups were coming through. And of all of the CSM groups that came through around the same time, they overheard mine. And of all the times I’ve recited my script, this time God had a different script for me. And in that moment, worlds collided and we saw just how small our world is, but how BIG our God is!