Promptings for prayer

September 19th, 2018

Have you ever woken up thinking of a random person randomly? What if those experiences aren’t bizarre but divine?

I woke up early last week thinking about an uncle — my mom’s stepbrother, Vince — who I hadn’t thought about in nearly 25 years. After my parents' divorce at seven or eight years old, Uncle Vince came to live with us right after his high school graduation.

As a child with a scarcity of consistent male role models in my life, I felt awestruck by Vince’s cool factor. In 1987 or 1988 “cool” looked like ‘80’s Rock-n-Roll hair-band posters all over his little room. He’d occasionally let me listen to music with him warning me against the woes of country music and ensuring that I grew up a respectable rocker. A curious, intoxicating smell always wafted about his room. I couldn’t identify that smell as a child. It was just the Vince room smell. So that made it cool.

After Vince moved out and his father divorced my grandmother, I never saw him again. After a few years, I never even thought about him.

Until last week.

Waking up early with a forgotten uncle on your mind who you haven’t seen for 25 years was bizarre. I made a note to look him up on social media or Google him to see what became of him. Does he have a family? Did he end up in prison over that strange smell wafting from his room? Did he start a hair-band that now travels around the country playing ‘80s covers in local bars?

But 36 hours later that research was unnecessary.

The following afternoon, as I sat at a stoplight on my way home a text message popped up on my screen. My brother wrote, “Hey, I just wanted you all to know Uncle Vince died yesterday.”

Whaaa? He couldn’t have been more than 46 or 47 years old. Besides, what are the odds that I would think of him for the first time in 25 years on the very day he died?

For two weeks now I have been processing that statistical anomaly. It seems too random.

So what if it wasn’t?

What if God put him on my mind that morning precisely because God knew what was coming? What if God was giving me a chance to pray for him, to pray for his wife, to pray for his kids? What if this random guy I hadn’t seen or thought about in 25 years needed prayer the day I woke up thinking about him?

I’m not saying that is for sure what God was doing that day. But what if he was? What if those times we think randomly of random people aren’t just weird morning tics in our brains but the Holy Spirit-given prompting us for prayer?

I’m not usually one to see either angels or demons behind every rock, but I do think I may have missed a prompting of the Spirit in praying for my long-forgotten uncle. Because, even though I’d forgotten him, God never forgot him. So my remembrance of him was an opportunity to join God’s remembrance, to join God by praying for him. As it is, my continued thoughts about him the last two weeks have prompted me to pray for his family. I don’t know them. I may never know them. But God knows them and they need prayer right now.

I offer this story to you as an encouragement: Continue to be sensitive to the Spirit, pray when prompted, and learn to see the prompts in what appears to be random.

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