God told me to cross the street [God Talk]

He didn’t use an audible voice, and he didn’t send a column of fire. It all came through divine imagination.

As we walked and prayed in our neighborhood, I observed that many people stood in their yards and at their cars on the opposite side of the street. Previously, I’ve kept to the right side of the street on our prayer walks. I imagined myself crossing the street and asking one of them if I could pray for them. I imagined asking, listening, and suggesting that I pray for them right then and there. I imagined the possibility of a rich exchange with eternal benefits. I imagined Jesus revealing himself through our conversation.

Then I asked myself “Why shouldn’t I cross the street and approach the next person I see? What’s the worst that could happen?” At worst, I might get a blunt “No” or maybe an argument. It’s highly unlikely that someone would pick up a rock and try to stone me right then and there for offering to pray. 

With that, I crossed, asked, listened, and prayed. A lady was preparing for a car trip out of state. I prayed for safe travel. She thanked me and we walked on.

Perhaps I left her with something to think about on her drive. Perhaps God has already sent someone else to her to continue the conversation that I started (or continued). Perhaps she’s already surrendered control of her life to Jesus, and now she is sharing her good news about Jesus with people that she meets.

The possibilities I imagine are enough to keep me crossing and approaching people. I have to remember that God wants to do much more than I can imagine, if I just ask.

2 thoughts on “God told me to cross the street [God Talk]

  1. danielz says:

    I like continuing to push and challenge your ideas. I’m doing this cause I find them interesting in that they are different. I am encouraged that you’re listening and responding to God. If I’m coming off like a jerk, let me know. To my ear, this sounds a little bit like the street evangelism I used to do in college with Crusade. Approach a stranger with a highly spiritualized question or proposition (i.e. – Can I pray for you?) and see what happens. I was all about it college and felt expectant that people would simply breakdown right there, spill it and come to Jesus. I’ve since moved away from this strategy, because I found that that didn’t really happen. The faith “card” tended to put up more walls than it tore down. People saw a religious caricature of me, rather than really me. I wonder if alternate form of strategy might be to walk across the street and just start up a conversation. Introduce yourself and inquire about who they are and what they are up to. Get to know them. If/when something comes up that you could pray for, offer to pray. Then you might look for opportunities to chat again. Instead of running from “the Jesus/prayer guy” they might look forward to a chat with the “interested neighbor.” In fact, they might even open up the door to watch a game with them, or have a meal. Suddenly, you’d be sharing life with them and they might begin trust you as a person who lives out a life consistent with his beliefs. How much more power does your example of prayer and strength of faith have now? How much more real might the issues and needs communicated get once you become a trusted friend?My contention is that simply by leading with an interest in human relationship, rather than spiritual support, more value will be communicated and more doors will be open. Of course, that suggests that you have to be willing to put in the hard work of developing a friendship. You gotta be willing to get stuck in the quagmire that is life for many people and live with them through it. A relationship is far less safe. But in the end, a better fit for the gospel in our modern context.

  2. Joel Zehring says:

    Thanks for the input, bro! No jerkiness detected, just authentic questions based on your experiences.I totally agree that I run the risk of type-casting myself as "the Jesus guy" in the neighborhood. I'm not sure if that's all bad, but I definitely don't want to alienate people unnecessarily. These prayer walks are by no means my only avenue of evangelism. We've cultivated a few relationships with our neighbors that have spanned several years, and have not included any overt altar calls or "come to Jesus" talks. With these neighbors, we share food, talk about everyday life and help each other on home improvement projects. I've gotten to know a few of my neighbors pretty intimately, discussing work struggles, relationship struggles, family histories, and even religion and beliefs. They know that I believe in God, and they know that I pray for them, and they accept me for who I am in that. That said, I think it's a mistake to assume that people don't want to have explicit conversations about spiritual life. Most people probably don't want to talk about it 24/7 or argue about it, but many people are currently wrestling with the questions "Do I believe in God?" and "What do I believe about God?" If any of these people are leaning toward the belief that God exists, then my approaching them on the street for prayer is possibly a refreshing sign that someone else believes in God, and God does exist, and God rewards those who earnestly seek him. Rather than alienating people from God, I believe these types of encounters can actually endear people to a loving God who uses serendipitous, honest, explicitly spiritual conversations to express his love for us. I'm probably not the first person to mention God to these neighbors, and (God willing) I won't be the last. Which is all to say this: I'm all for relational evangelism in the right context, I'm all for evangelistic prayer in the right context, and I'm all for straight-up street preaching in the right context. God can use it all, and historically, he has. What do you think?

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