Did God Really Say. . .?
They come. From north to south, east to west and across the oceans, they come. From the congregation of twenty-five to the mega church of 5000 and four services, they come. The semi-annual meeting of our denomination takes place in various cities around the country in August, the hottest month of the year and they come. They come for renewal, reunion and evaluation.
On this night in 2001, they came. On this night, the head of the denomination brought the crowd to tears with his message about the difficulties of ministry. He called the discouraged, the battered who needed a fresh anointing and encouragement to the altar.
They came. Pastors and wives, tears streaming, holding hands, joined by the leadership of the denomination. Men placing their hands on their brothers’ backs, women embracing, the room swelled with prayer.
That’s when I saw them. A short, chubby, couple with coal black hair. From behind, they had matching green shirts; even a quick look belied them as double knit. He was wearing khaki with his wife in cream double knit pull on pants. Their hands clasped, she used her free one to brush at her eyes. They had come, out of place aesthetically, but clearly in need of a touch from God.
“Go, pray with them,” the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. I shook it off.
“Go pray with them,” He spoke into my heart again.
“Not me,” I answered from my brain. “This room is full of distinguished
Christian ministers, evangelists, missionaries, ordained and licensed. Who am I?”
“Go”, the Holy Spirit was shouting inside me. I looked up from under my
lashes of my bowed head to see if someone else had heard.
“Not me,” I argued the more. “Everyone in the room would wonder who I am
to step up.”
The next voice I heard was one who had successfully deceived me many times.
“You’re just trying to draw attention to yourself. You wanted to be a pastor’s wife,
but you’re not!”
“Go!” the Spirit thundered.
“Yeah,” the other voice said, “Go, make a spectacle of yourself.”
I sat down in my chair and the Holy Spirit went silent. I didn’t feel like praising
or worshipping and He wouldn’t be pleased anyway.
I looked away when the double knit couple turned to go back up the aisle.
Later, much later, I tossed and turned in the hotel bed unable to sleep. My
daughter in the other bed rolled over toward me. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t sleep. I refused to listen to God tonight in the service.”
“God told me to go pray for someone but there were so many people there,
much more qualified to pray than me, I didn’t do it. I feel bad.”
Guilty was the real word, but “bad” sounded better.
I saw her shadow sit up in the bed across the room, “The double knit couple?”
“He told me too. And I thought the same thing.”
We were quiet for a minute, and then we hit the floor between the beds on our
knees. Several minutes passed while we repented and called out to God for the
nameless couple. Then my nineteen year old daughter asked a haunting question,
“Is it ever wrong to step up and pray for someone, whether God ‘tells’ you too or
We agreed that it couldn’t be, that Satan had used our weakness. Certainly,
we never want to be motivated by pride. However, there is a distinction between
God’s correction and Satan’s deception. And we decided that “bear ye one another’s burdens means just that.” Paul’s letter to Timothy “exhort” (ed) him to pray for all men, “FIRST OF ALL”. James is famous for his words on praying for others. Why would we wait for God to tell us to pray for someone, He already has! Repeatedly in His Word.
From that day on, I vowed to never let a person stand alone at an altar, in a
hospital waiting room, a courtroom, a graveside. And to the couple in double knit
who did stand alone, tears streaming down their faces, feeling and looking out of
place at the front of auditorium back in 2001, I think of you often. I pray you
continued your ministry. I missed a divine appointment with you that night and
robbed both of us of a blessing. I hope we meet in Heaven and the Lord allows us
to know each other.
The experience taught me a lesson that has served me well since that hot August night.