By Dr. Jeanne Michele
Simple sign taped to a bench on the Pier. Can we pray for you? I walked by two men who smiled at me as I passed. They had coffee in two large coffee pots, packets of sugar and cream, and a big box of sugar cookies.
Can we pray for you?
Early morning walks to the end of the pier enliven my soul. The salty sea air seems to purify things somehow. I love watching the sun begin to rise over the ocean as I search for dolphins. These walks feel sacred to me. My mom always loved the ocean. She would often talk about all the sea creatures she imagined living deep within its cavernous depths. During moments like this, I particularly miss my mom.
I am always on the lookout for dolphins. My pier walks are a kind of dolphin quest. Each time I see a pod of these beautiful animals, it serves as a reminder that life is good. The last time I stood at the edge of the pier, I watched two dolphins leap and play. Their joy is contagious and always puts a smile in my heart.
Can we pray for you?
The question hung in the air and I questioned my own hesitance to say yes. I suppose I was a little afraid of connecting with someone whose goal it was to try and save my soul. Spotting dolphins was my soul saving experience, at least on the pier. I’ve never had anyone there offer to pray for me.
And yet, I believe in the power of prayer. It doesn’t matter to me which form someone’s God of choice takes, because to me God isn’t about a name, it is about believing in something beautiful, brilliant, and beyond the human mind’s ability to full grasp it. We personify the Divine based upon what we were / are exposed to. Faith is the embodiment of what we believe and the ultimate expression of God is demonstrated in the ways we extend love.
To hold someone’s hands and heart in prayer is a sacred gift from one being to another. A sort of divine human experience. To stop what you are doing and take a moment to offer a prayer to someone you love, or even someone you don’t, is a way of placing on a little salve on one of the wounded places each of us carries inside. That’s what these men quietly came to the pier to do. There were no loud and booming evangelical announcements, just two guys with coffee and a prayer.
Can we pray for you?
Heading back down the pier, returning from my unsuccessful dolphin quest, I decided that if the two men were still there, that I would answer, “Yes, of course.” I found myself actually getting excited about the possibility of being prayed for on this beautiful day, and hoping I didn’t miss the opportunity.
Then I spotted them. Not my dolphins, but rather two regular looking guys hanging out, talking with each other. I didn’t see anyone stopping for a prayer. The left side of the Can We Pray for You? sign looked a little wind-blown. I walked up to them and introduced myself. “Hi. I’m Jeanne and I would love for you to pray for me.” They both smiled and asked me if there was anything specific I would like prayed for. I thought about it for a few moments, and then thought of a couple of concerns I could use a little prayer around.
Greg said that he thought Bryan would be the best one to pray for me. So Bryan touched my shoulder and began softly talking. He asked God to lovingly watch over me and keep me safe. He reminded me that each of our lives is truly in the hands of the Divine, and that our only job was to trust in God’s wisdom to care for us in all circumstances. Bryan’s prayer was simple, sweet and exactly what I needed to hear.
I gave Bryan a hug and thanked him. Figuring that they might be collecting money in exchange for prayers, I explained to him that I didn’t have any money because all I brought with me was my car keys. He told me that they didn’t accept any money, and that if someone insisted, they simply offered the money to the next homeless person who passed their way. He told me that the two of them come to the pier every Wednesday morning and explained that the prayers are their way of giving back.
I have to admit I felt better after Bryan prayed for me. And it seemed that he did too. When you pray for someone else, it seems to change something inside of you as well. Prayer helps us remember who we are. Prayer activates hope, trust and opens us up to new possibilities.
I look forward to seeing Bryan and Greg again some Wednesday morning. And the next time I see the “Can we pray for you?” sign, I won’t hesitate to say, “Yes, I would be honored.” I may even get one on the way up and the way back!
The dolphins would be so proud!
Dr. Jeanne Michele is a Spiritual and Clinical Psychologist who is passionate about helping people work through whatever is standing in the way of living extraordinary lives as individuals and in partnership. She designs and delivers personalized programs to men, women and couples to help them create lives and relationships that thrive. Read Full Bio